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Musings about legal tech trends

December starts the trends of future predictions, including for the year 2016. Predicting legal tech trends is no different. So let's start off with two recent articles and highlight a part of each article, offering up our take on what they predict. Because it's much easier to be an evaluator than an originator; we'll talk about our own ideas of what the future holds later in the month.

First up is Zach Abramowitz and his post about legal trends for 2016.

One of his four trends to watch is legal marketplaces. He sees this as a trend, but raises this framework. We agree.

two big questions face legal marketplaces: (a) whether they can prevent lawyers and clients from working around their system and making side deals and (b) whether or not the frequency of use will provide enough volume to make these marketplaces profitable.

That's an issue with most marketplaces. He talks about UpCounsel and whether they can not only build the marketplace, but also defend it. At Patdek, we think of this as a type of matchmaker service. Sure there are other features offered as part of the service, but what keeps the clients and lawyers coming back? A big question. Without a value-add delivery platform, side deals could become pervasive. Other than the match, and maybe some payment mechanism along with forms, it's going to be long-term tough to fend off competitors.

We agree this is a trend, but not necessarily that UpCounsel, even as a first mover, can weather competitors.

Next up is Mike Susong describing legal tech tomorrowland (free subscription required). He quotes Ben Weinberger of Prosperoware and how analytics will bring a new direction to the practice of law:

It’s about intelligent analytics. It’s about algorithms to search through mountains of data and knowing what to look for. It’s about programming and about understanding what we can find in those mounds of data. Law firms already have a ton of data and they have ways to dig through it. The most efficient way to get through is automated systems that are programmed intelligently to look for patterns. That’s the AI we are talking about right now—asking questions in an intelligent, informed and educated manner that are based on prior history and outcomes to deliver the correct result.

Artificial intelligence is still going to take time everywhere, including the legal sector. At best, we believe that maybe there's some methods that will help with categorizing data. But learning how to reason and resolve legal issues, we're still at least 2-5 years off from that. It would be great to predict outcomes to figure out what path to take, but isolating the operative facts, accounting for bias, parties involved, and so many other issues is a fair amount of data to understand and reason about.

That's our take on these two predictions. More to come.