Legal tech trends taking shape in 2022

What’s the latest in legal tech this January? iManage‘s legal practice lead Jenny Hotchin walks through the outcomes-driven digital discourse taking shape in SME legal.

Jenny Hotchin, legal practice lead|iManage|

Have you hit a 2022 reset? Or is it business as usual in these unusual business times? As always, there is a lot to think about. The topics, trends and emerging requirements that bubble to the surface every January reveal themselves in articles, podcasts and webinars. It is an exciting time for legal technology, as its outcomes start to shape discourse of growth and strategy.

Blue skies ahead for the cloud

In an article for Legal IT Insider, Macfarlanes’ CIO Andrew Powell shared some survey-based insight about the cloud conversation for law firms. It is a matter of ‘when,’ and not ‘if’, firms are migrating some or all of their systems to the cloud that will fundamentally change the legal tech landscape and law firm infrastructure in the year(s) ahead.

The survey shows that “whereas over 70% of firms’ document management systems were on-premises pre-pandemic, by next year, that figure will be 35%.”

Change should always be motivated by business outcomes. Reasons may include growth, environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and improved client experience and value. The change itself may cause some short-term disruption, but the payoffs are the rich rewards in end-user collaboration, extended knowledge utility and documentation security.

The convenience truth

When looking at consumer behaviour, one perceives a human need to unlock convenience. The likes of UberEats, DoorDash, Ocado, and Shopify are technology-enabled commerce platforms centred on consumer utility, convenience, and comfort. We’re seeing the same appetite for convenience translating into the legal technology sector.

Law firms want to make it as easy as possible for their people to get work done, not just in terms of greater efficiency but also with respect to how client interact with their law firm(s) off record. We know from the Thomson Reuters Legal Department Operations report 2021 that legal tech investments are up, and simplifying workflows fuels this acceleration.

Time to get social?

2021 saw the social media savvy lawyer come to the fore, and this year is likely to be no different. Some legal professionals seek to make a connection that they physically cannot, as watercooler conversations dry up. Many are using social channels to raise their profiles, others tapping into the opportunities it brings to share knowledge. Perhaps, in tandem with the first motivating factor, some are using it to generate new business.

The Lawrina Blog, in its 2022 trends piece, shows ABA research putting 80% of law firms having an active presence on social media platforms. As with many industries, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are where the conversations happen, but the conversation is also bubbling away on more niche platforms.


My hope for 2022? Any endeavours to improve, refine, and maximise the end-user convenience and client value of making knowledge work is orchestrated around the principle that legal tech can only succeed with people delivering better business outcomes in tandem with technology. End-user adoption of legal-tech enabled ways of working is what achieves the outcomes law firms are seeking with their technology investments.

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