5 (Unexpected, Predictable, and Surprising) Legal Technology Trends in 2020


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We were all shocked at the start of 2020, yet the momentum of technological change and innovation ensured a steady flow of new products. She has identified five trends that divide them into three categories: unexpected, persistent, and surprising.

Trends I think are noteworthy – unexpected: impacts of COVID-19; Predictable: State court analytics and innovative workflow tools; Surprise: Legal news re-emerges as a competition hub among major legal publishers and technology markets emerge.

Unexpected: Trends Related to COVID

COVID alone triggered four sub-trends:

  • The emergence of domestic law and ephemeral publications. The top legal vendors were no more willing to track county health department releases and executive orders to governors than a regular law firm. To make matters worse, these “documents” have been released in countless social media formats, texts, tweets, Facebook pages…. What does the law firm do?
  • Librarians and knowledge management professionals have entered the void and established protocols to define and harness the untidy universe of the COVID-19 ephemera.
  • Law firms have become publishers of the original COVID-19 resources (leveraging local documents used by librarians).
  • Legal publishers have put out unprecedented amounts of free legal resources covering COVID-19 issues. I covered this trend at a previous ATL Mail.

Continuing Trends: State Court Analytics and Workflow Tools

Government litigation analyzes – California was ground zero for developing federal and state analyzes. Gavelytics And the Udicata They were among the first startups to tackle the analyzes of government litigation challenges. Lex Machina, The leader in federal litigation analytics, entered the state litigation analytics market with the launch of California and Nevada units in February.

Westlaw And the Bloomberg Law Which previously launched case analytics, continues to build case analytics content. Start up trellis And the Unicorn Join the state analytics party in 2020. Fastcase / DocketAlarm They continued to build state litigation analyzes and announced late year the acquisition of Judicata.

Workflow tools

  • Summary analysis tools. Casetext Launch the groundbreaking motion crafting tool supporting artificial intelligence, ComposerAt the Legal Tech conference in January. Compose uses AI to define legal arguments and standards tailored to a jurisdiction and legal case. Parallel search ships related previous site to support arguments.
  • Casetext invented a new class of screening tools with the launch of CARA in 2016. And it took a few years for all of the major tech companies to catch up. Lexis Nexus And the Bloomberg Law They launched their feed analysis tools in 2020. Westlaw launched their brochure analysis tool Quick check In this product has been utilized in construction A prompt judicial examination. This tool was created for judges and can analyze up to six documents and produce comparative reports.
  • Among other workflow tools launched in 2020: Wolters Kluwer added an Practical dashboard And the Thomson Reuters HiQ 5.4.3 Update Analyze AI contracts with integration with Contract Express.

Surprising Trends: News Guides and Legal Technology

Is Lexis’ monopoly in jeopardy? If you look at the trends of 2020 – the answer is yes. Lexis has had a de facto monopoly on legal news for the past decade. Not only did they buy Law360 in 2012, but over the years they’ve made exclusive deals with the Wall Street Journal and American Lawyer Media. In 2014 they purchased the Newsdesk news aggregator. I have repeatedly asked out loud why Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg – the two media companies – have failed to compete directly with Law360.

In January, FastCase and US Attorney Media announced the launch of legal news products.

  • Fast Case They launched the first Le Street Media A newsletter that not only presents news, but simulates analytics from Docket Alarm’s news analytics product.
  • ALM Advertise an innovative news briefing Legal radar Now it is described as Law.com Radar. Offers a “Urgent” news feed for younger lawyers who consume news on their phones. News items are referred to as “light signals”. After initially focusing on litigation news, they added “urgent deal” news to transaction attorneys in November.
  • Thomson Reuters Back in March 2020, I met Tony Kinnear, the new president of Thomson Reuters the legal profession. My message to Kinnear- Thomson Reuters needs to compete with Law360. It might be a coincidence, but in October 2020 Thomson Reuters launched a legal news product Westlaw today.
  • Bloomberg Law It cemented its position in legal news with the acquisition of the Office of National Affairs in 2011. It once described BNA as the “A + Student in a Tie” nerd for legal publication. Since his appointment in 2018, Joe Breda, head of Bloomberg Law, has focused on transforming the company’s historically dense regulatory news offerings into more modern, streamable, clickable, and contextually appropriate presentations. Legal news Products. In the past year they added built-in interactive visualizations including law firm rankings and appointed Editor-in-Chief from the National Law Journal.

Technology markets

First of all it must be mentioned that markets are basically organized guides. Some also provide cloud environments where new products can be tested. I wasn’t expecting this at all however, I have a deep understanding of why Marketplaces are needed. A Google search for something like “legal practice management tools” can yield 8 million useless results per second. You’d better e-mail your colleagues for product recommendations. What is an attorney / tech / librarian to do? Enter the technology market.

  • Renin Kurt It was created by the law firm consortium and is a kind of legal app store launched in January with a mission: “Make it easy for law firms and legal departments to adopt and manage modern, cloud-based software applications without having to trust company or client content to a rapidly growing world of built-in SaaS providers. Vertically. “
  • Thomson Reuters Announce two initiatives. Thomson Reuters Market (Beta), is an online marketplace where attorneys, technologists and knowledgeable experts can research, experiment, and purchase a wide range of Thomson Reuters solutions. Thomson Reuters legal home page It is described as an “integrated digital launchpad” where subscribers can access their Thomson Reuters products as well as information about external products that may be combined with or linked to Thomson Reuters products.
  • The law firm launched Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe The observatory, “An interactive platform providing data on more than 600 legal technologies on the market today. The observatory, created by Orrick’s innovation team, describes what each technology does and includes data on management diversity to help legal departments strengthen the focus on vendor rights.”
  • LegalTechup Last fall, husband-and-wife tech team Chris Ford and Nikki Schaeffer launched a significant new technology resource: With. Legaltechhub (LTH) is a structured database of legal technology tools, which is enhanced with comprehensive and accurate labeling and classification of more than 600 legal technology products.

2020 trends in context. Competition drives innovation. The continued expansion of judicial analytics products for state courts is important not only to the practice of law but also to the impact that this data can have on access to justice. Workflow tools allow lawyers to focus on top-level analysis and provide quality assurance checks. The competition in legal news is long overdue. Technology markets offer a profitable profit to the sellers and law firm clients. Products can be located and tested more easily, technology experts and knowledge can more easily assess the market and identify existing technologies and what needs a custom internal solution. Will the emergence of an ephemeral law during COVID lead to a long-term change in legal publication? I don’t see any signs of that yet. No major publisher has announced its commitment to the ongoing collection of native materials. So the long-term impact of COVID on legal deployment may be the emergence of law firm’s knowledge management teams at law as permanent aggregators and publishers of local law updates and databases to support the needs of their clients.


Jean O’Grady is a knowledge strategist / librarian / attorney with more than 30 years of experience leading the transformation of research and knowledge services in Am Law 100 law firms. She is the author of a book Dewey B Strategy The Blog, which monitors the evolving landscape of technologies and companies transforming business and law practice.


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