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In numerous ways, 2021 felt like the 12 months that would in no way end. The pandemic dragged on, and new variants popped up like whack-a-moles. The resulting instability resulted in an amplified reliance on distant performing application, as legal professionals place into position know-how that furnished the overall flexibility that their firms essential to transition to a dispersed workforce ought to the need to have come up.
As a final result of the technologies adoption, some organizations, like law corporations, skilled major rewards, which include enhanced effectiveness and profitability. But the swift shift to remote operate also exposed vulnerabilities in some business IT methods. The ensuing barrage of cyberattacks and computer network infiltrations created headlines all over the calendar year.
Also, the increased adoption of remote working equipment experienced the stop result of contributing to a especially fast paced calendar year for authorized tech-sector investments. There was an inflow of venture funds and private equity funding in the course of the calendar year, along with a variety of report-environment first public choices and numerous notable mergers and acquisitions.
The distant doing work craze also impacted law firm recruitment. Some legislation corporations have been considerably less than accommodating when it arrived to the versatile work arrangement requests from their staff members, together with regulation company associates, who experienced become accustomed to remote function. As a end result, some staff selected to pursue other occupation possibilities, which brought about a labor lack at the affiliate degree in regulation companies.
In other terms, if nothing at all else, 2021 was an eventful calendar year. Pinpointing the major five legal technology information tales of the yr wasn’t quick, but the frequent thread of remote perform and its effects filtered by way of the newsworthy items that produced the checklist.
1. The remote perform revolution
Considering that the start out of the pandemic, we have cautiously emerged from our houses immediately after just about every surge abated, hopeful that the pandemic was finally nearing its conclusion. But alas, we have been mistaken each individual and every single time, and any return to normalcy has been postponed right up until some later on stage in time.
Every time we went as a result of that system, it turned ever more clear to legislation firm leaders that this was a very long-time period situation that identified as for extensive-term remedies. The jury-rigged IT methods that law firms had in place that allowed employees to remotely access their regulation firms’ premises-based programs weren’t likely to lower it. Not only did that form of IT set up maximize vulnerability to cyberattacks (see underneath), it also significantly lessened productivity and performance when company workforce labored remotely.
For all those good reasons, in the course of 2021, legislation companies continued to strategically commit in cloud-based mostly program that streamlined distant function processes. So much so that according to the outcomes of a study done in August and September by MyCase, Legal Field Report 2021: Classes Uncovered from the Pandemic, 88% of attorneys surveyed reported that their companies made use of cloud-dependent computing, up from 76% prior to the pandemic. Moreover, 46% claimed that their companies had invested in distant doing the job software package as a direct final result of the pandemic.
2. Cybersecurity challenges on the rise
Notably, one particular of the driving elements powering the uptick in cloud computing program utilization was cybersecurity. Businesses, which includes legislation corporations, that were being getting a Band-Support solution to distant function were increasingly facing cyberattacks in opposition to their firm’s on-premises components. During people attacks, bad actors mounted ransomware on the firm’s desktops or premises-dependent servers and then held the firm’s knowledge hostage until a ransom was paid out.
For example, in July, Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, a company that handles issues for substantial organizations, such as Ford, Boeing, Exxon, Marriott and Walgreens declared that it experienced been a target of a ransomware assault that possibly exposed Social Protection figures, passport figures, payment card information, medical facts and biometric knowledge.
Even so, regulation corporations relying on cloud-centered computer software were being often spared from the danger of ransomware. For those people firms, any company information that was saved or backed up in the cloud ordinarily was immune from the cyberattack. Cloud-based mostly storage presented defense and supplied regulation corporations with an reasonably priced alternative to premises-primarily based computing. Even far better, an included benefit of the cloud application made use of by individuals companies is the built-in enterprise resiliency presented, given that cloud-based software package is available 24/7 from any spot, making it easy for business workers to collaborate and get work done—no subject where by they take place to be.
3. The ‘great resignation’
Of program, the successful transition to remote function while a boon for legal gurus was a double-edged sword for lawful businesses. The usefulness and versatility available by remote perform brought about regulation company staff members to reexamine their priorities, with several demanding a lot more adaptable do the job arrangements upon their return to the office environment.
Lawful professionals who experienced grow to be accustomed to functioning from property have been disillusioned with the thought of returning to the business office on a total-time basis. Law business leaders, however, experienced different anticipations, and numerous insisted that facial area time reigned supreme. As a result, quite a few lawful professionals joined the “great resignation,” ensuing in a dearth of legal expertise at the associate amount in the confront of growing demand for legal providers, driven in part by the growth in M&A transactions going on across all firms.
4. Funding, M&As and authorized tech consolidation
Talking of M&As, the legal technology area was not immune from the immediate uptick in action. The large selection of mergers, acquisitions and funding rounds in the legal technology place that started in 2020 continued in 2021 and accelerated as the calendar year went on. The drumbeat of PR bulletins has not often ceased, and it was from time to time challenging to hold up with the dizzying range of transactions occurring. By a single estimate, as of September, $1 billion was lifted, in comparison to $510 million invested in 2020 and the earlier all-time large in 2019, when $989 million was invested.
A hotly debated subject encompassing the boost in exercise was irrespective of whether it was triggered by the pandemic or was only a predictable and all-natural acceleration that would have transpired irrespective. Both way, it is indisputable that a history-breaking total of income flowed into the legal know-how house in 2021.
There ended up also a significant range of acquisitions, ensuing in the unparalleled consolidation of authorized technology providers. What follows are the a lot more noteworthy illustrations, despite the fact that there were being lots of many others that are not mentioned beneath.
5. Initial general public offerings
Just as notable as the funding round and acquisitions ended up the initially-ever U.S. preliminary general public choices in the legal technology place. All a few took place more than the summer time, and each individual corporation below represented various areas of the lawful know-how arena: online legal expert services, enterprise software program for much larger law corporations and e-discovery computer software.
Of course, IPOs really do not necessarily lead to untold small business good results, as evidenced by the shenanigans going on down below on the heels of the botched Nuix IPO from very last December. Pretty much instantly soon after the IPO took place, the trouble began for Australian-dependent Nuix, a well-recognized e-discovery application organization.
Investigations centered all over insider trading ended up introduced within a matter of months. Now, Nuix is also dealing with at least two class action lawsuits introduced on behalf of shareholders. Earlier this calendar year, the CEO and the chief money officer stepped down, and the upcoming remains unclear just 1 calendar year immediately after the first IPO.
No subject how you slice or dice it, 2021 was a calendar year to be remembered. The instability of the pandemic experienced the astonishing final result of fueling a tumultuous, unpredictable and investment-heavy 12 months in the authorized know-how market. With a further COVID-19 variant making its way throughout the United States and the lawful know-how space showing no symptoms of slowing down, who knows what will appear subsequent? Just one factor that is selected is that it is absolutely sure to be attention-grabbing.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-centered attorney, creator and journalist, and she is the authorized engineering evangelist at MyCase, a business that gives legal practice management application for smaller firms. She is the nationally recognized creator of Cloud Computing for Attorneys and is co-writer of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Affiliation. She also is co-creator of Prison Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes normal columns for ABAJournal.com and Earlier mentioned the Regulation, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications and regularly speaks at conferences with regards to the intersection of legislation and rising technologies. Abide by her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be achieved at [email protected].
This column displays the views of the author and not always the sights of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.