I had 7 predictions for 2016. Here’s how they fared:
Robots will not take lawyers’ jobs (at least not in 2016).
While a few law firms have definitely embraced the “hiring of a robot lawyer” trend, robots are far from being as sophisticated as lawyers at practicing law. Our jobs are safe!
The billable hour will not go away.
While law firms are embracing fixed fees and alternative fee arrangements, the billable hour still dominates. However, this is an area that’s ripe for disruption and innovation, so stay tuned.
On-demand legal services will improve and expand.
Avvo’s definitely on top of its game, but entrants like 1Law are joining in on this segment of the legal tech market. Providing clients the lawyers they need is a new way to combine law and technology, and provide access to justice that’s been long overdue.
E-discovery services will become easier to use and faster.
There’s a reason the top players in e-discovery are getting funding. They are building top-notch products that are helping lawyers parse through millions of documents quickly. They are getting faster, more accurate and affordable. Keep an eye on Logikcull and Everlaw and their developments.
Alternative Business Structures will come to fruition.
I think I was more enthusiastic than realistic about the prospect of alternative business structures, but this definitely did not happen in 2016, and it may not happen for years to come.
Alternative business structures have been embraced in other countries, but the US has fallen behind. While there is limited evidence that they are better for the clients who utilize these services since it is a fairly new concept, lawyers can definitely see the benefits of working with other business sectors in providing their services. Check out Legal Zoom and J&M’s practices in this ABA Journal article.
Biglaw will embrace work-life balance.
Some firms are definitely embracing a work-life balance and providing alternative work arrangements, such as flexible hours and working from home. Others however are all talk and no action.
We’ve definitely seen some firms struggling to keep up with firms who provide these benefits and focus more on delivering value than billing their clients more. However, biglaw is far from embracing this trend entirely. At least we see a step in the right direction. Stay tuned.
Courtroom Technology will slowly improve.
While courtroom technology still has a long way to go, some counties are requiring e-filing all together. Cook County, Illinois recently notified lawyers that e-filing is now mandatory, and to sing up for training. This is definitely a step in the right direction and we will see more of these requirements in the near future.
Stay tuned for my 2017 predictions.