In lots of techniques, 2021 felt like the yr that would never end. The pandemic dragged on, and new variants popped up like whack-a-moles. The ensuing instability resulted in an improved reliance on remote working software, as attorneys set into put technological know-how that supplied the versatility that their corporations wanted to transition to a dispersed workforce should the need come up.
As a result of the know-how adoption, some businesses, like law corporations, expert sizeable advantages, including enhanced performance and profitability. But the fast change to distant do the job also uncovered vulnerabilities in some organization IT devices. The resulting barrage of cyberattacks and laptop network infiltrations made headlines all through the calendar year.
Also, the improved adoption of distant operating instruments experienced the close outcome of contributing to a notably fast paced yr for authorized tech-sector investments. There was an inflow of venture funds and non-public equity funding all through the calendar year, alongside with a amount of file-placing original general public choices and a lot of noteworthy mergers and acquisitions.
The distant performing pattern also impacted regulation company recruitment. Some legislation corporations have been significantly less than accommodating when it came to the flexible work arrangement requests from their employees, which includes law business associates, who had develop into accustomed to distant function. As a outcome, some workforce selected to pursue other job chances, which brought about a labor shortage at the associate amount in regulation corporations.
In other words, if nothing at all else, 2021 was an eventful 12 months. Pinpointing the top five authorized technology news stories of the yr was not straightforward, but the widespread thread of distant work and its consequences filtered by means of the newsworthy things that created the checklist.
1. The distant perform revolution
Considering that the start out of the pandemic, we have cautiously emerged from our homes soon after each individual surge abated, hopeful that the pandemic was lastly nearing its finish. But alas, we’ve been mistaken every and each individual time, and any return to normalcy has been postponed until some later stage in time.
Each individual time we went by way of that approach, it grew to become ever more crystal clear to legislation business leaders that this was a very long-time period scenario that referred to as for very long-term alternatives. The jury-rigged IT techniques that regulation firms experienced in area that allowed staff members to remotely entry their regulation firms’ premises-based mostly devices weren’t going to slice it. Not only did that style of IT set up improve vulnerability to cyberattacks (see below), it also considerably minimized productiveness and effectiveness when firm employees worked remotely.
For people explanations, throughout 2021, law corporations ongoing to strategically commit in cloud-based software package that streamlined distant work processes. So a lot so that in accordance to the success of a survey performed in August and September by MyCase, Legal Marketplace Report 2021: Classes Learned from the Pandemic, 88% of lawyers surveyed described that their corporations employed cloud-based computing, up from 76% before the pandemic. On top of that, 46% claimed that their companies had invested in distant working software as a direct final result of the pandemic.
2. Cybersecurity threats on the rise
Notably, just one of the driving aspects behind the uptick in cloud computing software utilization was cybersecurity. Firms, together with legislation firms, that had been using a Band-Aid solution to remote do the job were being increasingly facing cyberattacks against their firm’s on-premises components. During these attacks, poor actors put in ransomware on the firm’s computers or premises-dependent servers and then held the firm’s knowledge hostage until eventually a ransom was paid.
For illustration, in July, Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, a company that handles issues for large corporations, which include Ford, Boeing, Exxon, Marriott and Walgreens introduced that it experienced been a target of a ransomware attack that most likely exposed Social Protection figures, passport figures, payment card data, healthcare information and facts and biometric facts.
Nevertheless, law firms relying on cloud-based mostly software program had been frequently spared from the threat of ransomware. For these firms, any business info that was saved or backed up in the cloud usually was immune from the cyberattack. Cloud-dependent storage offered safety and furnished regulation companies with an inexpensive choice to premises-based computing. Even far better, an additional reward of the cloud application used by all those corporations is the crafted-in organization resiliency delivered, because cloud-based application is obtainable 24/7 from any site, making it uncomplicated for organization staff to collaborate and get work done—no matter where they happen to be.
3. The ‘great resignation’
Of study course, the thriving transition to remote operate whilst a boon for lawful experts was a double-edged sword for authorized employers. The comfort and flexibility available by distant work brought about law business employees to reexamine their priorities, with numerous demanding extra adaptable perform arrangements on their return to the office environment.
Legal professionals who experienced come to be accustomed to performing from house were disillusioned with the idea of returning to the business on a total-time basis. Regulation agency leaders, on the other hand, experienced distinct expectations, and lots of insisted that deal with time reigned supreme. As a result, many lawful specialists joined the “great resignation,” resulting in a dearth of legal expertise at the affiliate level in the face of rising desire for legal products and services, pushed in component by the growth in M&A transactions occurring throughout all corporations.
4. Funding, M&As and authorized tech consolidation
Talking of M&As, the authorized technological know-how house was not immune from the speedy uptick in action. The significant selection of mergers, acquisitions and funding rounds in the legal technologies place that commenced in 2020 ongoing in 2021 and accelerated as the calendar year went on. The drumbeat of PR bulletins has hardly ever ceased, and it was from time to time tricky to preserve up with the dizzying range of transactions occurring. By one particular estimate, as of September, $1 billion was elevated, in comparison to $510 million invested in 2020 and the past all-time substantial in 2019, when $989 million was invested.
A hotly debated subject matter encompassing the enhance in activity was irrespective of whether it was caused by the pandemic or was basically a predictable and organic acceleration that would have happened irrespective. Possibly way, it is indisputable that a file-breaking total of income flowed into the authorized technological know-how area in 2021.
There had been also a important variety of acquisitions, resulting in the unparalleled consolidation of lawful know-how corporations. What follows are the additional notable illustrations, although there ended up numerous other folks that are not listed below.
5. First general public choices
Just as noteworthy as the funding spherical and acquisitions have been the 1st-at any time U.S. preliminary community offerings in the authorized engineering space. All three occurred more than the summer time, and each individual enterprise under represented various spots of the lawful technologies arena: on the net authorized solutions, business enterprise application for larger sized regulation corporations and e-discovery software.
Of program, IPOs really do not necessarily guide to untold enterprise achievements, as evidenced by the shenanigans occurring down under on the heels of the botched Nuix IPO from previous December. Almost instantly soon after the IPO took place, the hassle started for Australian-based Nuix, a perfectly-acknowledged e-discovery application corporation.
Investigations centered all over insider trading had been launched inside of a subject of months. Presently, Nuix is also experiencing at minimum two course motion lawsuits brought on behalf of shareholders. Before this yr, the CEO and the chief financial officer stepped down, and the long run continues to be unclear just one particular calendar year after the preliminary IPO.
No issue how you slice or dice it, 2021 was a year to be remembered. The instability of the pandemic had the shocking result of fueling a tumultuous, unpredictable and financial investment-weighty calendar year in the legal engineering business. With a further COVID-19 variant generating its way across the United States and the lawful know-how house showing no signals of slowing down, who is aware what will occur future? A single factor which is particular is that it is sure to be interesting.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-primarily based lawyer, writer and journalist, and she is the legal engineering evangelist at MyCase, a company that presents lawful apply management computer software for smaller firms. She is the nationally identified creator of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both of those published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Prison Legislation in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes normal columns for ABAJournal.com and Higher than the Legislation, has authored hundreds of article content for other publications and routinely speaks at conferences concerning the intersection of regulation and rising systems. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].
This column demonstrates the opinions of the author and not always the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Affiliation.