Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Trends In Law Firms and Legal Publishing: Pure Speculation From the Serious to the Fantastic

A few ideas on what we might or might not see develop in 2017....


 Thomson Reuters Predictive. 2017 has to be the year when Thomson Reuters launches a  predictive product for lawyers. Early in 2016 Thomson Reuters rebranded  itself as "The Answer Company." They entered into  a relationship with IBM to gain access to IBM's Watson artificial intelligence technology. Several months ago TR announced a predictive legal product for financial analysts.   TR has remained silent as their competitors large (Lexis/Lex Machina, BloombergBNA)  and small  (Ravel, Ross, CARA,LitIQ) launched a variety of headline  grabbing predictive and AI research products. TR has been quietly investing in their Innovation Labs.  TR owns all the same data which is driving their competitors predictive and AI products... so what are they waiting for? It has to be a predictive product that goes a step beyond their competitors - or they would have already launched it. Perhaps a product that combines transactional and litigation data? Perhaps a product that integrates predictive data into  a workflow/drafting tool? I can't wait to see what it is.  I expect TR to be hosting an especially interesting launch party at the AALL conference in July. I hope I am not disappointed.


LexisNexis Will Not Purchase Any New Products in 2017. They will spend the year integrating all the  premium resources they have bought over the past 5 years (Lex Machina, Newsdesk,  MLex, Law360, Knowledge Mosaic,  Intelligize ...)  into a single game-changing integrated platform. OK I don't think this is actually going to happen - just putting it out there in case Lexis Nexis CEO, Mike Walsh is reading my blog today. I seriously think it is time to stop collecting the crown jewels of the legal market and start building some synergies between these resources.

BloombergBNA will Purchase WoltersKluwer or WoltersKluwer will Purchase BloombergBNA
It has been rumored that Mike Bloomberg planned to give BloombergLaw 100 years to  beat out Thomson Reuters and Lexis Nexis and become the dominant legal information product in the US. Bloomberg Law has been on the market for less than a decade and has faced some serious headwinds. By now, Mr.  Bloomberg  has certainly begun to notice that it is a lot  easier to get an investment bank to sign on to  a multi-million dollar subscription than it is to  slide a million dollar product into a law firm budget.  The zero based budget still reigns  in most law firms, so these two legal publishing giants WoltersKluwer and BloombergBNA  could benefit from combining their product lines. Both publishers have  been dominant players offering regulatory expertise and could gain  additional market share in a legal market competing to anticipate and track the regulatory uncertainties arising from the incoming Presidential administration.


Reinvent Government 1993 Style
The Trump Deregulation Watch  Shortly after  I  moved to Washington DC at the start of the Clinton administration in 1993,  President Bill Clinton launched the  Reinvent Government Initiative which was supposed to dramatically streamline regulation and shrink the Federal Register and the CFR-- the official sources of all US regulations.  I recalled front page photos of  President  Clinton and  Vice President Al Gore posing with pallets  of the regulatory materials they planned to eliminate. Will the CFR actually shrink over the next 4 years?  Let's look at history... in 1993 the Code of Federal Regulations was a 200 volume set. In 2016 there are 248 volumes. So the long term outcome of the earlier "Reinvent government initiative" has resulted in a 25% increase in the CFR volume count in the past 23 years.


Law Librarians will Put an End to Fake News By Creating a "Uniform System of Web Citation." Just as judges toss briefs  which fail to cite authorities for all legal propositions, it is time to require  "news" websites to include cite-able authorities. Law librarians should collaborate on a new publication which  I propose to be called The Uniform System of Web Citation. This publication will include 400 pages of rules following the example of the "Blue Book" Editors. The "Blue Book" rule 18.2.1 on citing Internet sources  provides an  excellent inspiration point:
 18.2.1 General Internet Citation Principles (p. 180)
(a) Sources that can be cited as if to the original print source.

When an authenticated, official, or exact copy of a source is available online, citation can be made as if to the original print source (without any URL information appended). Many states have begun to discontinue printed official legal resources, instead relying on online versions as the official resources for administrative or legislative documents. The federal government is also moving toward increasing access to online versions of legal documents, though it continues to publish official print versions.

(i) Authenticated documents.

When citing to such materials, The Bluebook encourages citation to “authenticated” sources: those that use an encryption-based authentication method, such as a digital signature or public key infrastructure, to ensure the accuracy of the online source. Generally, an authenticated document will have a certificate or logo indicating that a government entity verified that the document is complete and unaltered.

If all fake news authors were required to read "blue book" style rules before posting  any "news" - sheer boredom and mental fatigue alone would dramatically reduce the volume of nonsense posted to the web.
 (Lest anyone mistake this blog post for real news - let me be clear - this is a suggestion -- not a fact.)

Pop Up Law Firms Emerge in DC -  It will be HUGE!
Pop Up Law Firms in DC  Remember the Occupy Wall Street Camps which sprung up in parks around DC in  2011? I wouldn't be surprised 2017 brings  "pop up" law firms to DC.  Law firms without DC satellite  offices know that something "huge" is about to happen in DC and they want to be part of the action.  In a nod to ongoing client demands for efficiency, smart  law firms will gain a DC presence without having to  spring for an $80 per square foot lease by establishing a "pop up" presence on the National Mall.
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Every Law firm will Have Robot Lawyer - but they will not be practicing law. This new breed of robot will drive lawyer efficiency by having one function -- they will be  password robots. They will  troubleshoot all password problems and be the repository for all 1,000+ passwords which the average
lawyer  manages in order to access everything from the law firm network, to their  daily news subscriptions, CLE training,  health care accounts, voicemail, meal accounts, travel reimbursement accounts, the spam blocker account, the time and billing account, client extranets and the 500 specialized research platforms each lawyer needs to practice law. Password robots will reduce time wasted on lost passwords, password resetting, trying to remember the password you made up 2 minutes ago because it conformed to the 16 arbitrary criteria required for reset and has no mnemonic qualities,  mandatory password strengthening exercises, clearing cache of old passwords, synching mobile and network device passwords and replacing laptops which have been flung across the office in frustration at the appearance of a random  "your password has expired message."  Password robots are expected to boost lawyer productivity by recovering 10 to 20 hours of wasted time per month which translates into an estimated $100,000  increase in annual billable time per lawyer.

And it none of this happens... there is always next year.

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