What NewLaw will look like in 2022

23 January 2022 By Lauren Croft
law tech

System integration, the Great Resignation, and changing client needs will all be key factors in the NewLaw space in 2022, according to the Ashurst Advance team.

Based on observations over how the NewLaw space has developed and evolved over the course of 2021, the Ashurst Advance leadership team has weighed in on what lies ahead for the industry in the coming year and beyond. 

According to the firm, clients will continue to step up their investment in legal operations as the benefits become increasingly proven across corporates from all industries, financial institutions and public sector bodies. This will go hand in hand with exerting increasing pressure on law firms to demonstrate how they are deploying a full range of delivery expertise, not just legal, in order to drive beneficial outcomes for clients.

Hilary Goodier, partner and co-head of Ashurst Advance, said that after the pandemic, simplicity would be key moving forward.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“As we enter year three of a global pandemic, I think the motto for 2022 will be simplicity as we all strive to manage the ongoing disruption to our lives and our work. I think clients will be looking for holistic solutions to business problems and firms who can bring a more innovative and multi-disciplinary lens to solving clients’ problems will ultimately be the winners,” she said.

“This drive for simplicity will also hopefully see a more integrated and end-to-end approach to legal technology – the ongoing efforts to perfect point solutions only drives complexity in the legal tech space which I predict will slowly (but hopefully not too slowly) be replaced by a much-needed ecosystem led approach.”

Similarly, Matt Goff, head of digital services, said that compared to a turbulent 2021, the road in 2022 “now seems clearer”.

“Clients now have access to a wide range of technology and understand the opportunities this brings. The internal disruption within in-house teams has provided an open door to explore change together, which is already having a significant impact and is an opportunity to think about where law firms’ value-add fits in in a broader sense. Whether that’s a complete agile workflow solution/service on a discrete matter or forming part of a process run and managed in-house – becoming an extension of our clients’ businesses. This period of rapid change has provided a fantastic opportunity to transform the way law firms work with our clients,” he said.

“2022 is an excellent opportunity for law firms to be bold together with our clients and demonstrate value-add as a business that utilises all of its people and wider expertise by selling itself, not just high-quality legal advice.”

PROMOTED CONTENT

In addition, clients will increasingly adopt legal project management and NewLaw services for efficiency’s sake, Renee Amundsen, head of legal project management and process improvement (APAC), predicted.

“We expect demand for and adoption of legal project management (LPM) services by clients to continue to grow as they have become used to the efficiencies and benefits delivered through advanced approaches in legal service delivery. This demand will be underpinned by further integration of legal process and continuous improvement approaches with legal project management delivery, in turn eliminating waste and enhancing lawyers’ and clients’ experience when collaborating on business projects,” she explained.

“To meet increased demand and achieve even better outcomes LPM practitioners and lawyers need smart legal project management technology to support the delivery of a maturing service and further enhance our clients’ experience.”

Furthermore, the industry will see further acceleration of deployment of technology, particularly workflow, but focused on tech that is easily integrated with existing systems. The market for talented NewLaw professionals will also increase, and firms will fight to keep top talent – particularly following the Great Resignation.  

Linda Grace, head of Ashurst Advance Reach, anticipated that 2022 would see significant movement in the legal talent market, “particularly early in the new year as candidates give greater consideration to their career needs and goals”.

“While retention will be front of mind for most organisations, 2022 will also present an opportunity to reassess resourcing needs and take advantage of the availability of new talent. We foresee demand for flexible talent will continue its upward trajectory as firms and in-house legal teams continue to resource to the core and use flexible resources to meet peaks in workloads, fill short-term skill requirements or to backfill newly vacated positions,” she said.

“As we saw in 2021, the importance of geographic location of team members will continue to decrease as organisations enter a post-pandemic market and emphasis will instead be placed on desirable skills and cost. From a talent perspective, this will provide greater choice of opportunities and allow for career pivots in trying new specialties or industries.”

Iain Brown, head of advanced delivery services, predicted that in addition, collaboration would be paramount this year.

“2022 will see a continued shift towards ever closer collaboration between law firms and in-house teams. This will involve true partnerships where law firms become viewed as an extension of the in-house team both by those teams and by a client’s internal stakeholders,” he said.  

“Clients expect efficient and effective delivery in terms of how a law firm executes work from their side as standard but they will increasingly expect firms to provide support to in-house teams around their own processes as part of a broader collaborative solution design where clients and law firms work in a streamlined, integrated manner. This type of value add will become routinely expected by in-house lawyers over and above mere task execution by their law firm partners.”

And whilst the NewLaw space remains an “untapped” industry, Scott Mackintosh, head of operations and projects, said that firms that can master system integration would come out ahead in 2022.

“The rapid rise of NewLaw and legal technology has provided firms and their clients with a raft of different capabilities to enable a more efficient and effective delivery of legal services. However, the fragmented landscape, which spans multiple technologies, skill-sets, resourcing and delivery models, means that much of the potential benefit still remains untapped,” he said.

“Whilst innovation and new ideas will always be important, the constant pursuit of the next big thing can overlook the capabilities that organisations already have at their disposal but are just not using effectively. Firms that can master the concept of ‘systems integration’, bringing together elements of people, process and technology in ways that create holistic platforms and seamless experiences that are repeatable and scalable for their clients, will quickly move to the fore.”

What NewLaw will look like in 2022
Intro image
lawyersweekly logo