Who is the modern legal professional of the 2020s? For the most part, it’s someone who is no longer going into the office five days a week wearing a suit or professional business attire and carrying a briefcase. Gone are the days of printing out hundreds (even thousands) of documents into binders to prepare for a trial, running from client meeting to client meeting, catching flights from city to city.
Now, the modern legal professional might be someone who works from home and all that comes with it. That can mean a dog barking in the background on Zoom, conducting depositions from their living rooms, sending Slack or Team messages to their colleagues, and going into the office just one day a week to pick up some mail or to attend the now odd in-person client meeting.
The reality is that the day-to-day for modern legal professionals has changed dramatically, and technology must adapt in order to keep up with their changing needs.
Cloud Solutions Are Everywhere (Not Only within Ediscovery)
A critical way for lawyers to keep up with the times is the reliance on cloud software. With a remote workforce comes a need for tools that facilitate remote collaboration. In recent years, many forms of critical work have shifted to the cloud. Whereas cloud solutions were seen as more optional to an organization, the past couple of years have proven that it’s an obligatory part of a growing organization.
Communication. Legal professionals have added to their tech stack with digital communication tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Chat. People are communicating — for work and for personal reasons — on the internet, leading to more and different types of discoverable data.
Productivity. Project management tools, especially for geographically dispersed teams, are a must for legal teams in order to maintain visibility into team members’ schedules/availability and the work that is being done. Same with assigning work out.
Cloud storage. Legal teams are storing documents in various places online, including secure cloud storage options, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.
These new digital tools have transformed the legal industry and have created ambiguity about what the future of legal work looks like.
Ediscovery Predictions for 2022
We recently conducted an internal review of how Everlaw users are leveraging the platform (complete insights can be found in our Year in Review Report). Based on what we saw in 2021, here’s what we see coming around the corner in 2022. COVID forced people to consider new technologies and paradigms, which can be beneficial in many ways.
We will likely see an increase in dispute resolution, regulation, and the following:
A greater variety of file types (video, mobile, chat) means longer and more complex review periods. Recorded video conference calls are discoverable evidence, and if you’ve ever been a participant in one, you know how long meetings can take (people ramble!). Automated transcription will become crucial for parsing through audio/video data. Also, the need to collect, process, review, and produce structured mobile device/app, chat, and message data types will accelerate as data volumes increase in size.
More organizations relying on cloud services will result in more discoverable data from unusual sources. In the next year, more companies will be consuming cloud SaaS (software-as-a-service) platforms (e.g., Salesforce, Google Workspace, Box, DocuSign) to help solve business problems. Again, this will result in more discoverable data, and legal teams will need an efficient way to review data and information from these cloud services. Software providers will need to keep pace with the new file types and provide a way to easily upload and view these unusual file types.
Automation technology will increasingly influence decision-making. Whether it’s prioritizing documents to review by leveraging predictive coding, or assigning documents out to multiple people to review, legal teams will increasingly be relying on automated technology to speed up cumbersome processes. We’ve already seen an increase in certain workflows, like legal holds and redactions, and we expect this to continue into 2022.
Remote work isn’t going anywhere, and collaboration is still paramount. Remote depositions, hearings, and trials are here to stay. Fewer lawyers will be traveling to hearings and motions, and more legal work will be done virtually, as has already been the case. That being said, collaborative features like real-time editing and secure sharing of documents must be part of any ediscovery software platform. This evolving work style will be pervasive by the end of the next year.
In conclusion, we saw a lot of changes in 2021, especially those surrounding remote work and increased reliance on cloud platforms. 2022 brings with it a slew of varied and increasingly important data types, more emphasis on security, and remote collaboration.
Are you interested in learning more about recent legal trends and ediscovery predictions for 2022? Download a free copy of “Lighting the Way: 2021 Ediscovery Trends & Everlaw’s 2022 Predictions” to learn more!