Emerging Technologies to Impact Practice of Law

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By Yin Wilczek

Aug. 7 — Emerging technologies are likely to have a big impact on legal practice in the near future, according to a new survey of attorneys and general counsel.

In a poll of 350 legal practitioners sponsored by Robert Half Legal, more than a third—34 percent—predicted that emerging technologies will have the largest effect on the practice of law in the next five years.

Coming in at second was corporate governance regulations, identified by 19 percent of the respondents. Privacy and data security concerns came third, identified by 18 percent of the respondents.

Increasing IT Collaboration 

A separate poll of 175 corporate lawyers from the largest U.S. and Canadian companies sponsored by Robert Half Legal found that attorneys are increasing their interactions with information technology professionals.

Almost half of the respondents in that survey—44 percent—identified litigation and e-discovery as the main issues driving their legal departments to work more closely with IT specialists.

Forty-one percent of the respondents identified data privacy and security as the next factor leading to the close collaboration with IT.

Managing large amounts of data is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for law firms and companies, John Reed Stark, president of cybersecurity consultant John Reed Stark Consulting LLC, told Bloomberg BNA.

Warehousing and managing disparate and unstructured data, as well as searching and producing information from it, are major challenges, said Stark, the founder and former chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Internet Enforcement, in an Aug. 7 interview.

Technology and Law 

Stark also said that technology and the law have become intertwined. “Data breaches are the perfect example of that,” he said.

Stark noted that myriad legal issues arise in a data breach incident response, including the forensic analysis aspect of the breach, interfacing with regulatory and law enforcement staff and agencies, and interacting with shareholders, partners and vendors. Following from that, class or derivative actions may ensue, he said.

“In every single data breach, there are so many legal issues that it has evolved into where the counsel, the lawyer, becomes the quarterback of the incident response,” leading to “very large engagements that last a long time,” Stark said. “And the problem is never going to go away, and the challenges are only going to get significantly and exponentially worse.”

Poorly Prepared 

Meanwhile, 60 percent of general counsel respondents in an Aug. 5 Consero survey said their companies still are not adequately prepared for a possible cyber breach.

In the Consero poll, the respondents listed compliance and ethics and data privacy/security as top priorities.

In other highlights, the Robert Half Legal survey found that law firms are:

• becoming more flexible in their use of alternative fee models;

• differentiating between high-value and commoditized legal services; and

• increasing the search for specialized legal expertise.


To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at ywilczek@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bna.com

Robert Half Legal study, “Future Law Office 2020,” is available at http://www.roberthalf.com/legal/industry-resources/future-law-office-2020-redefining-the-practice-of-law.

The Consero study is available at http://consero.com/sixty-percent-general-counsel-believe-company-isnt-adequately-prepared-defend-data-breach-consero-survey-reveals/.