The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time when the experts make their predictions for the year to come. The field of legal technology is no exception. Most of the predictions focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and security, but there also are predictions with regard to the legal market in general, the cloud, and eDiscovery. Let’s have a closer look.
The American Bar Association’s 2018 Legal Technology Report revealed that in 2018 fewer law firms invested in legal technology than in 2017. Because of this, experts expect a stagnation in the amount of law firms who are investing in legal technology. The amount of money being invested by law firms still is increasing, as is the amount of money being invested by legal technology solution providers. The legal technology market itself is therefore expected to keep on expanding.
Experts do not anticipate significant changes in the software and services that the lawyers are using, nor in how law firms are charging their clients. The market of Alternative Legal Services Providers (ALSPs) will keep on growing, and some of these Alternative Legal Services Providers will come into their own as major players.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
IBM predicts three major breakthroughs in the field of AI which will lead enterprises to increasingly advance, scale, and trust artificial intelligence. These three breakthroughs are:
- Causality will increasingly replace correlations: at present Machine Learning algorithms discovers patterns, i.e. correlations, but the nature of those correlations still hasn’t been qualified. The breakthrough will consist in qualifying those correlations and determine what is cause and effect.
- Trusted AI will take centre stage: methodologies are being developed for a better cooperation between humans and AI, where humans can trust the output generated by AI systems.
- Quantum computing could give AI an assist: technologies like Deep Learning require serious computing power. Quantum computing has the potential to dramatically increase computing power.
The experts that Forbes Magazine consulted make five predictions:
- AI increasingly becomes a matter of international politics
- A Move Towards “Transparent AI” (i.e. where AI systems can reveal how they draw their conclusions. This ties in with the concept of “trusted AI”, mentioned above).
- AI and automation are drilling deeper into every business
- More jobs will be created by AI than will be lost to it.
- AI assistants will become truly useful
In a separate article, other experts predict a rise in applications that combine video, voice and AI to improve human interactions, sales, customer service, and meetings.
More specific to the field of Legal AI, experts predict an increase in smart contracts, as well as an increased use of blockchain based solutions. Law firms are becoming smarter in what technologies to use, which leads to a higher adoption of legal AI: AI will augment existing solutions. AI is also expected to play a more important role in the design of legal software and its interfaces. One expert predicts that the increased usage of AI will lead to lower fees, thus facilitating access to justice. One of the fields that is expected to grow is legal analytics (including judicial analytics). As a result of this the roles of Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO) will become more prevalent in law firms.
A lot of the predictions have to do with cybersecurity. Law firms have a lot of valuable data and are prime targets for cybercriminals.
One of the world’s foremost experts in building AI systems to detect malware points out that cybercriminals have started using what he calls “offensive AI”, i.e. AI systems that are specifically designed to attack computer systems. As a result, malware, e.g., gets smarter and better at evading protection against it. In turn, cybersecurity companies are increasingly using AI as well to ward off cyberattacks and to detect those technologies that are aimed at evading protection.
All experts anticipate cybercrime will rise in 2019. They expect increases in:
- Data breaches and data leaks, with an emphasis on the latter
- Browser crypto-mining, or crypto-jacking, i.e. where your browser is hijacked to mine cryptocurrencies
- Web skimmers: just like you have hardware to illegally clone credit cards, web skimmers use websites to illegally get your credit card details
- Expert specifically expect an increase in botnets that use “Internet of Things” devices
- Dedicated Denial of Service (DDos) Attacks
- Financial crime, i.e. cyberattacks on banks and other financial institutions
- Email social engineering attacks, also known as BECs, or Business Email Compromises
- Exploit kits, i.e. web-based applications that redirect users to malicious sites where they attempt to exploit a browser vulnerability to infect the user with malware.
Cloud servers, too, are in trouble in 2019. Cloud servers have slowly become the favourite target of cryptocurrency mining trojans.
As more and more hacking tools are becoming available, experts foresee an increase in underground communities of hackers and cybercriminals.
Malvertising will continue to gain sophistication in 2019.
Over the last years, law firms have increasingly started using cloud technologies. That growth is expected to continue, as law firms have largely overcome their hesitance to use cloud-based solutions.
The GDPR has had a great impact on legal eDiscovery. As more and more countries (and States within the US) are implementing similar legislation, experts believe we are reaching a tipping point for the protection of personal data privacy in legal discovery.
2019 will also see new ways to exploit the power of analytics across the entire e-discovery workflow. ‘Active learning’ will be used as a supplemental tool to support traditional reviews. And as eDiscovery requires data transfers to service providers, those transfers will increasingly become targets for hackers and cybercriminals.
We are also witnessing an increasingly globalized eDiscovery, and as a result there will be an increase in demand for translations.
In 2019, we will approach Blockchain more realistically. Many fantastic visions of 2017 and 2018 were a little ahead of schedule, and many projects have failed to deliver. With a more realistic approach, Blockchain will finally move past the hype into reality and Blockchain adoption is expected to spike across sectors, and to start converging with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Security experts anticipate that Blockchain will help prevent unauthorized access. They also see advancements in privacy-preserving techniques for blockchain: these techniques combined with blockchain can enable new decentralized applications that protect data while providing users with transparency and control over how data is used.
To address the issue of energy consumption costs, which are skyrocketing because of the computing power needed, in 2019 we will also see hardware-based acceleration of cryptographic techniques.