10 years ago, Jack Newton and Rian Gauvreau revolutionized legal practice management when they introduced Clio, the industry’s first cloud-based legal practice management platform. Over the past decade, there’ve been a myriad of advancements and changes in legal tech—and the stage has definitely been set for the next ten years of innovation and invention.
To get a view into the future, we asked members of Advocates, the official Clio community, to share their predictions for the next 10 years in legal tech. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:
1. (Finally) paperless practices
“Paperless, paperless, paperless! We can already go paperless and take our whole office to court with us in a laptop, iPad, or tablet. Most judges are already willing to view documents on these devices and do not require paper copies in court. I believe, and hope, that soon the legal profession will adopt the paperless lifestyle completely.” – Tania Bartolini, Attorney, Law Office of Tania Bartolini
2. More remote work
“I think traditional offices will start to disappear as more people are able to work remotely. This will also allow firms to spread across states by joining with other lawyers in other states to branch out with satellite offices to attract a wider client base. I also think that a lot of jurisdiction issues will start to go away as it becomes easier to work with local counsel in other jurisdictions to represent your clients.” – Leslie Lelii, Office Manager, Virtus Law PLLC
3. AI and DIY
“I see A.I. taking over alternative dispute resolution with small consumer cases, and the expansion of DIY apps when it comes to contested family matters or estate matters.” – Todd Ver Weire, Lawyer, Law Office of Todd W. Ver Weire
4. Court appearances by video
“I would imagine video-conferencing will become the way all court appearances are handled in the future.” – Tiffany Hoyhtya, Bookkeeper, Fischer, Rust & Stock, PLLC
5. Online filing only
“I’m ready for all courts to allow online filing of pleadings and payments of fees as well as full access to docket sheets and PDFs of filed documents! In Texas our Federal and district courts are all online, but many of the courts do not allow access to the docket or documents. Some counties charge extreme fees for docket searches alone.” – Kay Marley-Dillworth, Paralegal, Rivas Goldstein LLP
6. Less reliance on lawyers
“I think we can expect client’s demand for swift responses to only go up and their willingness to solve legal problems themselves to increase as well. People are going to rely more on their friends for advice on the law or on who to represent them than they will on speaking to actual attorneys.” – Joshua Borken, Law Office of Joshua Borken
7. Lawyers that work more like doctors
“The next ten years will see a fundamental change in what it means to practice law. Technology and the disaggregation of labor it encourages will push the legal profession closer to the model of the medical profession. Lawyers, like surgeons, will be able to practice at the top of their license, using the creativity they learned in law school to invent and test new ways of serving clients. All routine legal tasks will be able to be handed off to tech tools and other legal professionals.” – Jordan Couch, Attorney, Palace Law
8. More portable scanners and printers
“Smaller, more easily portable scanners and printers. You can carry your whole office in your briefcase!” – Stephanie Harkness-Moxley, Paralegal, Susan Harman-Scott, Attorney at Law, PLLC
9. A millennial push for more tech
“Given that millennials are now the most represented demographic in the workforce the next ten years will see the end of the ‘innovation gap’ (Bob Ambrogi’s term for technology’s failure to meaningfully impact the access to justice gap). Millenials are generally significantly more comfortable with new technology than previous generations.
As a result of that we are already seeing millenials in positions of power (usually small firms and non-profits) push for the adoption of technology and resist outdated ethics rules. As the demographics of firm partners and (perhaps more importantly) legal consumers shift toward the millennial generation that trend can only grow.” – Jordan Couch, Attorney, Palace Law
10. Mobile will become the thing
“‘Mobile’ will no longer be a thing; it will be the thing, so we won’t even have a special name for it anymore.” – Owen Hathaway, Managing Attorney, the Law Offices of Owen Hathaway
Finally, to round out our list, Owen had eight other specific predictions for the next decade of legal tech:
- Legal industry software will close the gap with other industries …
- … But legal tech will always lag due to compliance overhead (and thankfully so—we should be more careful than most other industries).
- Courts will lag even further behind than the rest of the industry.
- Artificial intelligence will increasingly take over manual tasks thus streamlining workflows.
- Generational turnover will speed up tech adoption in law firms.
- At least three ‘major’ law firms will be ruined by technology failures.
- At least one of those failures, if not all three, will be due to data breaches.
- Bankruptcy courts will accept electronic signatures without a wet-ink paper backup, but not until late 2027.
What are your predictions for the next decade of legal tech? Join the discussion in Advocates to let us know.