Legal Tech’s Predictions for Legal Technology Innovation in 2022

Are you looking forward to the future? My friend, we’re already there. In the legal industry alone, artificial intelligence is baked into everything from discovery to research, cloud and remote technologies allow lawyers to work efficiently and simultaneously, and new technologies like the blockchain provide tantalizing opportunities for future legal tech innovation.

And that’s to say nothing of the technology industry at large, which the legal industry will help shape. From NFTs to connected vehicles and even next-generation technology like quantum computers, the world of tech litigation and regulation will be sure to keep lawyers busy far into the future.

As technology transforms the way we live and work, here’s what attorneys and technologists predict for the world of innovation in 2022. If you thought a pandemic would slow down how rapidly our world is changing, our experts’ predictions show that the pace of changes continues unabated.

This is the fourth in a seven-part series of 2022 predictions from Legaltech News. Last week saw our predictions for cybersecurity, remote work and COVID-19, and privacy. Check back later this week for predictions for e-discovery, contract/transactional technology, and business of law/ALSPs. The quotes below are in alphabetical order by name, and some have been edited for length.

Jason Adaska, director of software development & Innovation Lab, Holland & Hart: “It is said that ‘words are a lawyer’s tools of trade,’ so I predict that 2022 will see the application of large-scale language models like BERT, GPT-3, and Megatron-Turing to legal problems. These are massive AI systems—some have more parameters than neurons in the human brain—that have the flexibility to classify, annotate, and generate text. They are becoming the engine for variety of new technologies, from legal research to document review, and I expect they will be more broadly used in generating drafts of non-templated legal writing as well.”

Ryan Anderson, CEO & co-founder, Filevine: “There is no industry where authenticity is more important than in legal. The authenticity of a deal document, the authenticity of courtroom evidence or the authenticity of a witness statement is critical to the inner-workings and legitimacy of this field. In a world that’s excited to seek out new use cases for the blockchain, legal may be one of the best places to go. Due to this, I predict we will see a lot of innovation between blockchain and existing legal tech platforms in 2022.”

Brittany Bacon, partner, Hunton Andrews Kurth: “The exponential growth and advancement of AI and machine learning systems and applications in the upcoming year will be met by increased regulatory scrutiny and continued calls for legislation to address the potential harms generated by such technologies. Although it likely will take more than one year to pass AI-specific regulations, we expect developers and users of AI technologies to self-regulate and take steps to build fairness, transparency, ethics and accountability into their AI programs to help combat biased, discriminatory, and unfair outcomes.”

David Beam, partner and co-leader of fintech practice, Mayer Brown: “Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) has been an area in financial technology that has seen phenomenal advancement in the past several years, and this trend is likely to continue. As the technology underlying BaaS platforms evolves, providers will be able to offer a broader range of financial products and services, with increasingly sophisticated customization options that support deeper integration into companies’ customer experiences.”

Dan Broderick, CEO and co-founder, BlackBoiler: “2022 will mark a turning point with more legal departments developing and using standardized playbooks, instead of relying on the information in their heads. Legal teams interested in using legal tech to drive efficiency in their contracting process will need to have a good handle on their playbooks and historical contracts to train AI and ML systems. A solid playbook will ensure any technology purchased and deployed will be built upon a solid corpus of data.”

Marla Crawford, general counsel, Compliance: “Technology spend will grow and people spend will decrease. Analytics and artificial intelligence are no longer best practices, they are the practices.”

Gareth T. Evans, partner, Redgrave LLP: “AI increasingly will be used to identify privileged documents in massive document populations, and it will work better than it has in the past. Privilege review and logging remains one of the most expensive, time consuming, and problematic processes in complex litigation, and the challenges are only growing with ever increasing document volumes. The difficulty of using AI in privilege logging has been training the model to recognize privileged communications where doing so is often nuanced and challenging even for human reviewers. Using deep learning and accessing much larger volumes of training documents—e.g., from prior cases for the same client—AI will do a much better job of solving the privilege logging conundrum.”

Eric T. Fingerhut, member, Dykema: “NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are all the rage. Stories abound of digital art selling in the millions. However, NFTs and their intersection with well-established intellectual property law is fraught with danger for artists and investors alike. Creators risk buyers thinking they have purchased an unrestricted right to use NFTs for any purpose they want, thereby depriving them of revenue. Buyers risk purchasing unauthorized versions of NFTs rather than originals, and could commit copyright infringement if they do anything more than “own” or hold the NFT. Legal battles will be drawn, but courts will say copyright law applies and trumps this sui generis form of digital asset. My advice: buyers beware, sellers be diligent. There may be money in these hills, but there also are serious risks.”

Jamie Foote, product manager, Thomson Reuters: “Expect to see the use of blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence/machine learning to improve the nature of digital interactions—with the main goal of adding integrity and security to criminal justice processes. The ability to ensure that digital artifacts and evidence are not tampered with as they move through the chain of custody will become more important. Technological innovations that help establish governmental and commercial trust centers achieve such integrity are expected to take shape.”

Lawrence Freeman, senior counsel, Bird & Bird: “Connected vehicles will continue to generate more and more data—which is the new oil. Manufacturers of connected vehicles will face increasing European legal challenges regarding personal data access requests, privacy notices, data minimization, transfers of data, privacy-by-design solutions, police requests for log file data, email marketing, data security, right-to-repair rules, and technical access conditions to vehicle data.”

Sharon Klein, partner, Blank Rome: “The pivotal legal question in artificial intelligence and machine learning is ownership and inventorship. The algorithms forming the basis of AI can do nothing without data. Even when a regulated entity having personally identifiable data properly de-identifies the data, individuals have sued stating that the regulated entity which deidentified the data put the database in the hands of someone with the capability to re-identify back to a unique person (See Dinerstein v.s Google LLC). To alleviate this concern, states like California have provisions stating that when data goes to the AI company it must be accompanied with contractual language prohibiting combining it with publicly available or other sources in an attempt to re-identify back to a person. We expect this privacy trend to be adopted by other states.”

Louis Lehot, business and technology attorney, Foley & Lardner: “As practical quantum computers edge closer to reality, others are developing algorithms that are intractable even for quantum computers. Our current legal system has not contemplated the world of probabilities that quantum computing will enable. Cybersecurity will be endangered, and unhackable quantum cryptography will need to be created in response. Safety systems to deter and prevent cybercrime is urgent. The terabytes of personal information will need to be protected and collected at each point of transmission, wherever it is stored, analyzed, monetized, and used. Competition will need to be preserved while rolled out, lest the first adopter squelches all others. Cloud compute power and orchestration platforms will need to evolve. Ultimately, we will have to decide what decisions are appropriately made by a quantum computer versus a human.”

David Li, manager, applied science, ProSearch: “As the market begins to understand the limits of ‘pushbutton’ AI solutions, we expect to see a greater focus on tuning the performance of AI-based and ML-based solutions and building a better understanding of the value that custom training and data labeling adds to performance of language processing solutions.”

Nils Lölfing, associate, Bird & Bird: “New legislation related to AI may not only pose risks (such as the draft EU AI Act) but also opportunities: Under the European strategy for data, the Commission has recognised the need to increase data sharing incentives among businesses and individuals as there is not enough data available for innovative re-use, including for the development of AI. The proposal for the Data Governance Act (where Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement at the end of November) shall boost the availability of data as the engine of AI and machine learning. The Data Act which is currently being drafted by the Commission (supposed to be published in Q1 2022) shall promote fairness in data access and use in business-to-business relationships.”

Anne McNulty, senior director of AI success, Agiloft: “The entire legal ecosystem, from lawyers and legal departments to tech vendors and service providers, will continue to benefit from the investment the likes of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and others are making in artificial intelligence. Most notably, advances in AI cloud services and new approaches to model development and training will reduce the cost and amount of effort required to train and deploy machine learning and deep learning-based models. However, the industry will continue to be hamstrung by the ongoing shortage of individuals with the skills required to leverage these services to the full.”

Vinaykumar Mummigatti, chief automation officer, LexisNexis: “As we head into 2022, the automation space will see the emergence of more converged patterns of work, with data, content, workflow, collaboration, and conversations enabled by process mining and process monitoring capabilities. The trend is often described as ‘hyperautomation’—a convergence of low-code automation tools in a platform architecture to automate all patterns of work involved in a process. Low-code tools and citizen development models will gain more prominence due to increasing levels of digitization, business demands for rapid technology delivery and continuously changing business dynamics. The low-code application platforms will continue to gain mainstream acceptance as a part of enterprise technology stack because of the challenges faced in building a technology workforce who are adept in conventional coding.”

Brad Paubel, CIO, Lexicon: “AI advancements will evolve due to increased use in cryptocurrency. The ability to predict price fluctuations and act in real-time is a key driver in the technological advancements we’ve seen at the end of 2021. This advancement will not just be used for cryptocurrency but in everything from the medical field to the food industry. The increased capabilities that AI and ML will bring to the workforce will open the door for different types of cases but will also increase efficiencies of law firms.”

James Sherer, partner and co-leader of emerging technology team, BakerHostetler: “Online interactions will be friendlier, more personable, and more evidently artificial. Companies are already dependable consumers of AI technologies; as people who migrated online during the pandemic have stayed there, the people supporting them in sales and support are joining the Great Resignation. Someone—or something—has to help out those who remain, and the need for friendliness at scale will lead to an tsunami of virtual employees. But as California’s vanguard B.O.T. bill provides, AI influencing certain [Californians’] behaviors must be prominently self-declared. In sum, expect at least one ‘Hi, I’m your bot’ during a future sale near you.”

William A. Tanenbaum, partner, Moses & Singer: “AI considerations in healthcare and autonomous vehicles will converge. In both fields, AI decisions can lead to bodily harm, or worse. Artificial Intelligence is used to decide whether it is a shadow or a pedestrian, or a malignant or a benign tumor. Solutions to hacking risks, enhancing data integrity, addressing latency in cloud computing, and uncovering the weight given to specific factors by machine learning models in order to open the AI ‘black box,’ will be shared, upgraded, and used in both fields because of the overlapping requirements of automotive engineers and physicians. Cars will improve patient care, and healthcare will improve driver safety.”

Alvin Tedjamulia, CTO and co-founder, NetDocuments: “In 2022, the battleground will shift to the maturity of the cloud platform, and squarely focused on the concept (and realization) of ‘platformization’ for all solutions hosted by document management/enterprise content Management. Platformization calls for a single worldwide service under one global cloud, where all solutions and applications hosted by the platform share a common set of core technologies for storage, search, cryptography, data loss prevention, analytics, machine learning, etc. Solutions based on different core technologies and different platforms will be deemed unacceptable, while those normalized under a single platform (platformization) will be the service of choice.”

Nick Thomson, general manager, AI, iManage: “AI will continue its disappearing act, instead being plugged into the back of applications. When AI is productized like this, customers don’t have to worry about how to use it or how to wire all the different pieces together—the AI simply becomes part of a product that they can easily take advantage of. Because of this productization trend, you’ll start to see increasing consolidation among AI vendors for the simple reason that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for tech vendors to each build their own AI engine for their application to sit on top of.”

Bruce Wexler, global co-chair of intellectual property practice, Paul Hastings: “AI will further push biotechs to new heights. Like many other industries already exploring an AI revolution, we are already seeing new ways of innovating and will see in the near future previously unimaginable rates of innovation in biotechnology drug research and development thanks to AI. … With these changes and innovations, we will continue to see companies paying careful attention to their IP protecting their business and technology, and staying attentive to ensure their freedom to operate and to defend their actions against any threats.”

Nick Whitehouse, GM of the AI Center of Excellence, Onit: “Watch out for AI intelligently connecting the legal front office with the legal back office. 2022 will see the advent of intelligent process automation. Major vendors will start integrating AI into workflow process automation, dynamically managing standard legal processes such as contract review and legal service requests based on context and content. This will enable clients to gain significant efficiency increases from their established processes.”