2022 – a world changed by the pandemic. The rise of machines. And inevitably, the year lawyers will finally get it. Or maybe not.
Al-Karim Makhani, VP of Consulting at TLS, picked the brains of five experts on what they saw as the key legal tech trends for 2022. From data-centric class actions to new cities being built in Saudi Arabia, one thing that’s not going away is the importance of the human touch.
Group Action Claims
It looks like there is no end in sight for the marked increase in consumer protectionist legislation, says Rajuan Pasha, head of TLS London’s Project Management teams. Notwithstanding the decision in Lloyd v. Google UKSC 2019/0213 – decided on the technical vehicle for representative claims rather than the underlying merits – group claims on data privacy and other areas will continue to grow in size and number. Combine this increase with a concomitant surge in litigation funding, and this fast becomes a lucrative and complex area for lawyers and technologists alike.
When managing large numbers of claimants with varied and disparate data, traditional forensic workflows honed on the data of large corporations will miss the mark. Technology, and likely simple technology, will have to be brought into the fold to collect from disparate classes rather than disparate data sources. Tools do exist within mainstream platforms. Relativity, for example, tracks individual claimant processes. But lawyers and technologists will have to design ways to identify, extract, store, aggregate and analyse information from vast numbers of unrelated individuals.
Claimant management will be as important as sophisticated AI solutions. The latter will see earlier deployment, particularly in test cases. Firms specialising in group actions usually take a selection of 10 or so claimants to ‘test’ their case. Taking the evidence used in these test cases and modelling them out within the whole class can inform prospects of success. In 2022, we will likely see firms like this working closely with legal technologists to further focus traditional e-discovery tools.
When dealing with third-party funders, real-time cost reporting tools will become mandated. These already exist but will fast become part of the entire workflow for the profit drivers of group claims.
— Rajuan Pasha, Director
The CMA will finally rise up post BREXIT
Post-BREXIT, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made clear that it would reclaim its position as a global leader. In his final report on competition policy, “Power to the People,” John Penrose MP made compelling reading around faster decision-making, ease of doing business, levelling up and leveraging technology in all its guises. The CMA similarly parroted these notions saying that it would work with other sophisticated global regulators to develop best practises. Add to this the anticipated increase in caseload and investment in personnel, resources and infrastructure, and we think it is going to be a landmark year for the CMA in the way they operate.
The CMA must leverage technology in the same way companies and law firms do. With an anticipated increase in resource-intensive mergers and antitrust and cartel investigations, companies and their counsel will need to rely on e-discovery technologists to provide them with efficient, cutting-edge workflows to ensure compliance and a higher success ratio. This approach has allowed the DOJ and FTC to build sophisticated protocols that parties understand and adhere to, statistically quickening time to market (or not). Whilst those protocols are best known for technology-assisted review (TAR) and predictive coding, the structures they provide can also be applied to machine learning in translation tools for large-scale, foreign-language data. We look forward to what the CMA gets up to!
— Sasha Toussaint, Director
Prolific ‘Non-Traditional’ Data Continues to Expand Horizontally and Vertically
We have seen a significant uptick in the requirement to disclose instant messaging data within the litigation and arbitration spaces. This includes data from mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, and from collaboration platforms like Discord, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. According to a 2021 executive survey published by NewVantage Partners, WhatsApp – fast becoming a prevalent source of data in contentious proceedings – saw 65 billion messages exchanged daily. The platform is used in 180 countries in 60 languages, and 5 million businesses use WhatsApp Business to connect to their customers.
Whilst none of these technologies are particularly new, their elevated status from an evidentiary standpoint is unsurprising given the events of the past two years and the move to remote work. However, each of these platforms presents its own challenges vis-à-vis ensuring that data is preserved in a forensically sound manner and ultimately presented to legal teams in a review-friendly state. In parallel to this, more mainstream technology tools are being released with back-end e-discovery modules. Whilst these can be helpful, they are limited by their inability to identify, preserve or collect data defensibly.
We anticipate the variety of data sources will continue to expand prolifically in 2022, and those of us tasked with extracting data from them will continue to build solutions at the same pace.
— Alex Seigle-Morris, Vice President
Good Customer Service is More Important Than Ever
In a world where outsourcing, data-centric decision making and time- and cost-saving technology have become integral to bottom lines, what can’t be replicated without a human touch?
The focus of most tech development is efficiency, but the legal industry has fostered a level of reactivity unmatched in professional service spheres – the Big 4 may beg to differ but the last we heard they are law firms too. Those in purely client success, business development and sales roles are, ironically, more important than ever. They must ensure that above all the modernisation, digitisation and AI, they retain relationships. Business has and always will be about people. We have seen this firsthand. There will always be technology that is quicker and has heightened analytics or a better dashboard. But ensuring projects are delivered on time, bad news is delivered swiftly and clearly, that a moment is taken to ask about your weekend or how your family is doing – these are the qualities we will need to dig deep to find in 2022. A quote we take to heart at TLS is, ‘Customers may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.’ – Unknown
The innately human quality to connect, empathise and engage with others is not yet backed by AI. Clients in the legal space will continue to demand top service levels, and law firms and providers must keep this in sight in 2022 to succeed in this competitive market. In a (hopefully) post-COVID world, customer service professionals must identify unique and powerful methods to reconnect with their clients and shore up trust.
— Danielle Giannecchini, Regional Director
Emerging Markets: The Middle East Seeks to Re-Establish Itself as a Central Cog in the World’s Merry-Go-Round
As growing global markets continue to reshape the future of politics, economics and healthcare, the UAE once again comes to the fore in 2022. Dubai’s working week has shifted to align with most of the world. This step away from the traditional Islamic week shows Dubai’s appetite to solidify itself as the Middle East’s preferred outpost for international business. Qatar will stage the first Arab-hosted FIFA World Cup, only the second in Asia. Hyper-construction of football stadiums, airports and railways has led to huge contracts, many of which are now in various stages, including alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
The most marked development for 2022, however, is likely the huge progress and investment in and by Saudi Arabia. An increasing number of professionals are moving to the region, and work is being done to assimilate them into the local culture. On the legal technology side, Saudi Arabia is already showing signs of accelerated, historic progressiveness compared to the rest of the region. Lawyers and technologists have mandates to explore existing technology options but also to build out new ones themselves. Given legal tech is encroaching on every echelon of legal service delivery – this positions the Kingdom in good standing.
Lastly, the contentious and non-contentious construction industry continues to boom in Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The region’s arbitrations have always been high stakes and data heavy. The more data produced – emails, CADs, Aconex, drone video, body cams – the more sophisticated and powerful the tools to interrogate them must be. Experience in such arbitral disputes will help legal tech providers in the region to solve problems before rather than during the inevitable storm.
— Michael Deeker, Director