The IT Trends Law Firms are Embracing…and the Ones They are Letting Go

The legal industry is slow to adopt changes, but that is starting to evolve as younger and more IT savvy associates, partners and paralegals are being hired. This is driving new technology trends within the industry. The following are trends that we predict will continue to rise and those that we predict are phasing out.

Machine Learning

One of the most laborious aspects of law is research. Hours are spent scanning books, articles, web sites, reports and testimony in search of data and information that are relevant to a brief, a contract or a case. Then more time is spent trying to find relevance of that data to an attorney’s needs. By using Machine Learning heuristics, research time can be compressed and the accuracy of research through analytics is significantly higher.


As with Machine Learning, attorneys have traditionally competed by combining two skills: research and reasoning. To gain additional advantages, attorneys are using a data driven approach to identify patterns to craft strategies and motions based on historical trends to better predict a winning outcome for their clients. Analytics are providing better insights for law firms, whether it is to get a change of venue based on a judge’s previous transfer orders or ways to market bankruptcy expertise to regions of the market that align to a firm’s strategic initiatives.


Everything is going mobile these days, and law firms are no exception. Mobile devices connect attorneys to clients and connect attorneys to their firms. Smartphones and tablets are being used to track billable hours, conference with clients from any location, edit and review documents and trial prep. With new virtualization technology, attorneys can even work on a virtual desktop from their mobile device. Newer attorneys demand the ability to get to their data anytime and anywhere and don’t want to be shackled by having to either go into the office or connect to a terminal server.

Premise Based Computing

With the maturation of virtual technologies and hosted environments like Azure and AWS, law firms are no longer bound to their office. The trend of law firms spending money on hardware and services that are in a server room at their office is diminishing at a rapid pace. Law firms are converting these large capital costs to budget-friendly operating costs by leveraging IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) environments. These environments are more elastic, and firms can expand compute as needed and reduce when the requirements are complete without having to purchase and deploy expensive hardware/software.

Cost Recovery Systems

This is another diminishing trend. Law firm clients are also more tech savvy and refuse to pay for copies, faxes and prints when electronic versions satisfy their needs. Clients understand that it is no longer labor intensive to create multiple copies or to fax a document when they can just get it in an email or a Dropbox download.

Perpetual Licensing

A perpetual license agreement is one in which the firm purchases a specific version of software, at a point in time, and then pays additional fees for support and incremental updates. It is like premise-based computing, where the hardware and software satisfied a specific need and a specific time but eventually becomes obsolete. So every few years, firms have to purchase new software to stay up to date with large capital costs. Most firms, and vendors, have moved to a subscription-based model for their licensing. The firm pays a monthly fee to the vendor that includes all support and product upgrades. In this manner, the firm is able to budget an operation monthly value and always have access to the latest upgrades.

We at Hilltop have identified these trends and our experts can assist your firm with applying IT in a manner that aligns with your firm’s strategic objectives.