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Legal technology predictions for 2014

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Legal technology predictions for 2014." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Legal technology predictions for 2014

Every year, I take a stab at forecasting how lawyers will use technology in the coming year. Now it’s time for this year’s predictions. So, without further ado, here’s what my crystal ball tells me.

First, let’s take a look at social media. Clearly this is a phenomenon, not a fad, despite many lawyers’ assertions to the contrary over the years. It’s obviously not going away and for that reason, lawyers are now flocking to social media in droves. That trend will continue and lawyers’ participation in social media will increase markedly in 2014.

LinkedIn will be the gateway drug, as it has always been, with Facebook coming in second. Participation on both of those platforms will continue to rise. Twitter will also see a slight rise in usage, although not nearly as dramatic of an increase as the other two.

But the true winner with lawyers next year will be Google Plus. I believe that platform has truly come of age and many lawyers will begin to prefer it for online interaction over all others. One of the most popular places for lawyers to interact will be in lawyer targeted communities such as “Lawyers on G+”, a very active community with over 3,500 members, and “Cloud Computing for Lawyers”, a community that I started that focuses on legal technology issues.

Next up, mobile technology usage by lawyers. Of all new technologies, lawyers have embraced mobile tools the fastest, with 91 percent of lawyers using smartphones in their law practices and 48 percent of lawyers now using tablets, according to the results of the ABA’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey. These numbers will continue to increase and I expect that next year 96 percent of lawyers will use smartphones and 64 percent will use tablets.

Another emerging trend is wearable technology, such as smart watches and Google Glass. Wearable technology is, in my opinion, the next stage of mobile computing and will serve to enhance and in some cases, replace smartphones. But 2014 isn’t going to be the year that lawyers embrace wearable technology. A small percentage of adventurous lawyers will test the waters, but an increasing interest in the possibilities that these tools offer won’t be seen until mid-2015 and it won’t be until 2016 that we’ll see lawyers begin to use these products in their practices in any noticeable way.

And last but not least, cloud computing. 2014 will be a big year for cloud computing. It will be the tipping point and I predict that 50 percent of lawyers or more will use cloud computing tools in their practices by the end of 2014. By way of comparison, according to the ABA’s Legal Technology Survey, in 2011, only 16 percent of lawyers reported using cloud computing in their law practices, with that number increasing only slightly in 2012 to 21 percent. But in 2013, 31 percent of all lawyers now use cloud computing software to manage their law firms. That percentage will increase to over 50 percent in 2014 as lawyers truly embrace the cloud and all of the benefits that it offers. Online storage and back-up will lead the way with Web-based law practice management systems coming in second.

So there you have it — my legal technology predictions for 2014. Tune in next year to see if I was right!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.