2015 Legal Technology Predictions
As 2014 draws to a close, it’s once again time for me to take a stab at predicting how lawyers will use technology in the coming year. I’ve been making these predictions for years now; sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. But either way, it’s always a fun endeavor to put my predictions out there and then see if they come to pass. So, let’s get started, shall we?
First, let’s take a look at social media. In 2015, overall social media use by individual lawyers for professional purposes will essentially plateau. This is because the main social media platforms —LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter — are saturated with lawyers and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for newcomers to stand out from the crowd.
Nearly all lawyers now have profiles on LinkedIn so there’s very little room for LinkedIn growth next year. Facebook use by individual lawyers will increase, but more so for personal use than professional use. This is because this platform has become more of a social endeavor for most individual attorneys, although lots of professional connections continue to be maintained on Facebook. Twitter use will likely decline slightly in 2015 for individual lawyers because it’s a difficult platform in which to gain a foothold and many eventually abandon it for other social media platforms that provide more instantaneous results.
However for law firms, social media growth will increase slightly in the coming year, with most firms viewing their social media presence as a necessary branding measure. LinkedIn pages for firms will see an increase since so many lawyers are on LinkedIn. Firms will also increasingly use Twitter since it is such a public way to establish a firm’s brand. Finally, Facebook pages for firms will see an increase as well, but at the slowest pace, given the more social nature of the site.
Google Plus use for both lawyers and law firms will remain the same. This platform had great potential, but unfortunately Google never opened up the site to third party platforms, which makes it difficult to incorporate Google Plus into a daily social media sharing routine. So growth has stagnated and use of the site has declined somewhat.
Next up, cloud computing. I predict that lawyers’ use of cloud computing will increase in 2015 but not as much as I had predicted in prior years. The unexpected NSA revelations and announcements of major hacking events in 2014 put a damper on the uptick in cloud computing.
But one thing that has become clear in the past year is that these types of events are inevitable regardless of whether data is stored on premise-based servers (such as those located in law firms) or on servers owned by third parties, as is the case with cloud computing. In other words, this year lawyers will begin to use cloud computing more often as they realize that what matters is the security measures in place that protect files, not the location of the servers that house the data. So, I predict that we’ll see an overall increase of 10 percent in the use of cloud computing by lawyers, with solo and small firm attorneys leading the way.
Finally, let’s take a look at mobile computing. Lawyers have embraced mobile computing more quickly than any other new type of technology. This trend will continue in 2015, with wearables leading the way. The majority of lawyers already use a smartphone so the increase in smartphone use will be small — perhaps 5 percent. Nearly half of all lawyers use a tablet in their practice and that number will increase only slightly in 2015 to approximately 55 percent.
But it’s wearable technology that will really make waves in 2015 — specifically smartwatches. As I predicted last year, only a small number of lawyers used smart watches in 2014. But with the release of the Apple Watch in early 2015, that will change. By the year’s end, I predict that 10-15 percent of lawyers will be using smartwatches and then by the end of 2016 that number will increase to at least 25 percent. And by the end of 2017, nearly 40 percent of lawyers will be using smartwatches.
Other wearable technology, such as Google Glass, won’t take hold in the legal profession anytime soon, although some innovative lawyers will find ways to use them in their practices.
So there you have it! My technology predictions for 2015. Check back next year at this time to see which ones were spot on and which ones totally missed the mark!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.