Hindsight in 2020
A look at my 2020 predictions and how right (or wrong) they were!
In the immortal words of Miley Cyrus, 2020 came in like a wrecking ball and threw just about everyone on the planet onto an unpredictable and crazy rollercoaster that we still have yet to exit. Given just how crazy a year 2020 has been, I thought it might be fun to take a gander back at my own predictions for the year and see just how right or not so right they were! These predictions were originally published in Legaltech News by Zach Warren, let’s see if they stand the test of time (and a pandemic).
“Ediscovery will continue to be bombarded by atypical data sources as ephemeral messaging, IoT device data, collaboration tools and app-based information becomes increasingly relevant to investigations and litigation. Savvy providers must capitalize on advanced analytics and all the tools in their toolboxes to manage this explosion in terms of variety and volume of data. Advanced analytics will become increasingly the norm as linear approaches simply become untenable.”
This prediction definitely hit the nail on the head, but not for the reason I would have anticipated. Adoption of atypical data sources like collaboration tools, short-form communication, and video conferencing are indeed through the roof, but not through general organic growth so much as triaging a global move to virtual workforces as a result of the pandemic. Rapid adoption of short-form applications like WhatsApp has bridged the gap for teams grounded from traveling, and there has been a dramatic Zoom Boom. Collaboration tools like Slack have also seen a surge in adoption as a result of an increased need to collaborate.
This proliferation of new data types combined with an increased need to support ediscovery anywhere or at any time despite social distancing has dramatically increased adoption of cloud technology and next-gen providers like DISCO. This shift from legacy has the dual benefit of bridging the socially distant gap and offering tools with extremely robust analytics and AI baked in at no additional cost.
“Broadly speaking, we can expect increased complexity of cyber attacks, deep fakes and compromise of IoT networks and devices. Specifically in legal, given the 100 reported breaches in 2019 alone, I anticipate we will see an increased velocity of law firm, consultancy and service providers breached. There is a wealth of information across a multitude of top corporations available at these targets, and bad actors have taken note. Increased scrutiny of security posture for providers and outside counsel is a must.”
As predicted, cyber breaches generally and in the legal space in particular saw a surge in 2020. As with the prior prediction, a major factor was the pandemic for law firms and service providers alike. The rapid and dramatic shift to virtual in a matter of days for organizations with next to no work-from-home infrastructure or policies created a major vector for bad actors to exploit, namely, the use of personal devices and/or misuse of technology by employees unfamiliar with the unique risks posed by working from a home office. Additionally, rapid adoption of new atypical technology to bridge the virtual gap caused its own set of vulnerabilities (Zoom-Bombings and more).
A recent survey of 200 IT professionals found that remote workers contributed to 20% of breaches in 2020 and 28% of the IT professionals admitted they themselves used their personal devices more than work-issued ones. Three Am Law 200 firms have had high-profile breaches so far in 2020 as have multiple bar associations and countless smaller firms. According to a study by the American Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2019, as many as 25% of all law firms have been compromisedin some way by hackers and the vulnerabilities of remote workforce are likely to amplify that figure in 2020 and beyond.
This increased vulnerability is likely to continue well into 2021 and potentially longer as some organizations permanently shift to at least some non-nominal percentage of the workforce remote.
“2020 will be the year that true AI enters the legal market, moving us beyond antiquated 50 year old machine learning methodologies and into application of outcome predicting software, model sharing across data sets and work product generation. I believe 2020 is the year we move from AI hype to AI in practice.”
One positive thing that has come out of the seismic shift to a virtual work force is increased cloud adoption and more legal practitioners embracing next-gen legal technology. This shift (combined with the new entrant to the legal technology market, DISCO’s cross-matter AI) is contributing to truly AI-powered offerings in the legal technology market. The bag-of-words approach used by legacy technology has been replaced by fastText which is able to dig deeper into the linguistic nuance of coding decisions and fully examine documents, taking into account the order, meaning of words, and sentence structure to arrive at intelligent decisions in a fraction of the time.
The majority of law firms are not yet using AI, but increasingly some level of TAR, data visualization, and conception analysis is being deployed. As cloud limitations continue to fall by the wayside due to requirements of remote workforces, I anticipate the adoption of next-gen tech will continue to spike. With that adoption, legal practitioners are being introduced to AI that is more like Netflix than legacy TAR 1.0 in terms of intuitiveness and ease of deployment. I anticipate this adoption surge wll trend well into next year.
Bottom line, I’m a genius, as well as a clairvoyant…
I kid, but considering the swirling vortex of chaos that 2020 has served up, the predictions I made at the end of 2019 seem to have stood the test of time. How have your predictions weathered the never-ending storm that is 2020?