So what does the Nimble Magic Eight Ball have in store for 2018? First, we must note we did pretty darn well in our 2017 Predictions (the first edition). You can find our recap of how we did right here. However, some of those predictions need a little more time to marinate.
Here are our predictions for the legal industry in 2018:
1. Cyber Security will continue to be at the top of everyone's priority list. This one was pretty easy to come up with but we'd be pretty dumb to overlook it and the same can be said for any organizations that may be overlooking this too.
2. #MeToo, Sexual Harassment, and Training will be at the top of Boards' and CEOs' priority lists. Boards will be scrutinizing sexual harassment policies, procedures, and training closely. As they should be. Too many organizations have given short shrift to this issue in their cultures. It's one thing to have a policy and annual training. It's another to have a culture that doesn't look the other way at these issues. Law firms, alternative legal service providers, and compliance companies will all see a continued spike in demand for services related to these issues.
3. Litigation Funding will continue to grow. There are those that think too much money is flowing into litigation funding too quickly but litigation funding is still pretty small in the grand scheme of things. It seems to us that this burgeoning industry is still at the bottom of the growth curve. If you don't know much about litigation funding, you should. It can be an extremely powerful tool as evidenced by Peter Thiel's funding of Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. Here's a link for a Wall Street Journal Op/Ed on litigation funding.
4. Law Departments and Law Firms will both increase adoption and use of Legal Technology. Both law departments and law firms recognize they have to keep up with the legal service delivery demands for not only great legal work but also insight and speed. In the 2017 Nimble Legal Services Outlook Survey (get your free copy by clicking here (shameless plug)), both law firms and law departments reported that investing in new technology was a top priority for 2017 and that will continue. Lawyers need to recognize how these new tools aid and improve legal service delivery rather than fighting their adoption and implementation.
5. More Law Firms will acquire or launch consulting companies. As law firms try to combat the lack of growth of demand for legal services, they will continue to look at the "Big 4" model of additional legal related consulting services to create additional value for current clients and attract new ones. Recent examples are Bryan Cave (click here), Dentons, which launched an in-house counsel consulting business, (click here), and Allen & Overy (click here). Law firms that want to compete will have to acquire or launch similar ventures. And law firms will need to compete with the "Big 4" too, as PWC lauched a U.S. based law firm in September of 2017 (click here). Some law firms may dip their toe into this with a joint venture.
6. Boutique Law Firms will be launched with increasing frequency. Given the low cost of cloud-based technology, many tech savvy lawyers will realize that the mid-size to large law firm provides them with more costs than benefits and will depart to set up boutique law firms that provide high quality services at better price points (and higher margins).
7. Law Firm Merger Mania will continue. There are just too many law firms in the space below the AmLaw 50 and larger than boutique law firms that are struggling to differentiate themselves and find it hard to justify the cost of their services to clients that are looking to reduce legal spend. The recent trend has been to merge and we see that continuing in 2018.
Let us know your predictions for 2018 in the comments below!