Legalweek 2022: Trends In-house Counsel Should Learn About — Next Month and Beyond

by Jerry Levine

Let’s face it, after a couple of fairly challenging years, most of us would rather look forward to the future than backward to the past. But for technology evangelists like myself, figuring out the future of legal work and helping to develop new digital tools is just a part of our jobs — and a very enjoyable one at that!

In that same spirit, ContractPodAi kicks off each new year by connecting with attendees and other innovators at Legalweek in New York City. Every year, the event showcases the current digital solutions that will shape the future of in-house legal departments.

Here’s a snapshot of  the Legalweek 2022 trends that should be on the radar of corporate legal departments. We look forward to discussing some of these — in far greater detail — at Legalweek in March.

1. AI: Process Automation, Machine Learning, and Analytics

Without question, many of the biggest innovations coming down the pipe will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI). Robotic process automation (RPA), for instance, can take over many of the high-volume, time-consuming tasks like those listed below. (AI algorithms are better suited for these anyway!)Gartner predicts that by 2024, legal departments will be able to automate 55 percent of their work. This is a legalweek trend for 2022

  • Legal document authoring and assembly
  • Automated workflows, including contract redlining and approval
  • E-Discovery
  • Reminder alerts for pertinent dates
  • Identification and reporting of key contractual information

According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, at least 25 percent of lawyers’ functions can be automated with legal tech that’s already on the market. Gartner also predicts that by 2024, legal departments will be able to automate 55 percent of their work. It’s no surprise, then, that a 2020 World Economic Forum reported that “the rise of AI will enable legal and compliance departments to focus on what they truly do best: engage with other colleagues across departments to design and execute a sound risk-management policy.”

Also, innovations like AI are part of what I like to call ‘intelligence augmentation.’ Through the use of such technology, professionals at all levels of the organization can make decisions more efficiently and with a higher degree of certainty.

2. Remote and Hybrid Work Environments60 percent of legal departments were interested in leveraging cloud based AI-powered platforms to work remotely

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, companies were somewhat skeptical that their employees could work effectively and ethically — whether on a full- or part-time basis — while outside of the office. But through 2020 and 2021, innovations in legal tech, in particular, started to change that rather outdated perception. ContractPodAi published its Contract Management Usages and Practices report that same year. We found that 60 percent of the corporate legal departments were interested in leveraging cloud-based, AI-powered platforms for contract management and legal operations, to work remotely.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has also acknowledged this shift in corporate legal’s attitudes around remote and hybrid workplaces. Yet the ABA cautions attorneys and their colleagues not to be complacent about data security. It encourages legal professionals to take on leadership responsibilities, to always be responsive and prepared around these matters. (There’s more on that below!)

3. Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

For the most part, IT teams carry the lion’s share of responsibility for implementing data security protections against attack vectors, like perimeter breaches, ransomware, and malware attacks. More and more, though, legal teams are playing a role in the following:

  • Communicating to authorities, investors, and other stakeholders following a breach
  • Defining “acceptable use” policies for company data, devices, and intellectual assets
  • Protecting against liability following an internal data leak or external breach
  • Participating in regulatory compliance activities
  • Protecting brand equity and customer trust through transparency and continued vigilance

In 2021, far more employees fell for phishing, social engineering, and ransomware attacks, which led to even more credentials being compromised. So in the coming year, corporate legal teams will need to collaborate with their colleagues in IT and human resources, to evaluate the risks and opportunities associated with the increased adoption of the Internet (Think regulatory standards and AI-enhanced cybersecurity protections). They may need to create custom applications and APIs, too, but the good news is that no-code and low-code platforms enable legal professionals to develop these apps — easily and quickly.

When it comes to data privacy, all businesses must also strive to protect sensitive information about their prospects, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. As a result, corporate legal departments will be under increasing pressure to assess the implications of data privacy standards — like Europe’s and the U.K’s GDPR, the U.S.’s patchwork of federal and state laws, Brazil’s LGPD, and China’s PIPL — and guide their companies to comply with their mandates.

4. Cloud Platform Adoption

Many of the trends listed above are driving corporate legal departments to invest in cloud technologies, in general, and digital solutions for in-house legal teams, in particular. Thanks to unified legal platforms like ContractPodAi Cloud, this trend will only increase in momentum throughout 2022 and beyond.

What’s more, such integrated, AI-powered solutions will be readily accessible — and useable — to departments well beyond legal!

Legalweek 2022 Trends and Takeaways

You’ll discover other legal technology trends at Legalweek 2022, which kicks off in New York City, on March 9. Remote working, cybersecurity, process automation, and data analytics will be featured topics, along with communication strategies, regulatory compliance, and Environmental Sustainability and Governance (ESG).

In one panel session, I’ll discuss the latest trends in automated contract review. In another, ContractPodAi’s Chief Growth Officer Edward Chick will talk about how contract compliance helps organizations reduce business costs and drive company growth. We hope you’ll be able to join us! Register here.

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