Most of Legalweek’s conference attendees would likely agree that the future is bright for technology in legal services delivery, but there seems to be far more variability on where exactly technology is likely to expand the most.

Panelists at Legalweek’s last panel of the conference, “Predictions on the Future of e-Discovery Law, Business, and Practice,” were asked to cast predictions about the future of the practice. Moderator David Horrigan, e-discovery counsel and legal content director at kCura, armed panelists with loud buzzers to approve or reject fellow panelists’ ideas.

The panel and crowd had a lively debate over these proposed ideas:

Judge James Francis IV, U.S. magistrate judge: “E-discovery costs are headed up.”

With the vast expanse of data streams available, Francis predicted that attorneys will be likely to start bringing new kinds of data to the table in litigation. That said, without the sophistication to do cost-effective e-discovery tools to new kinds of data, the average cost of getting through relevant data is likely to trend upward.

Although courts call for proportionality of data in litigation, Francis said this standard is still today mostly a pipe dream. “Proportionality unfortunately, at least for the near term, is mostly a buzzword. I think it’s a great aspiration, but I’ve seen so many lawyers who simply include it in their list of objections,” he said of his experience on the bench.

“The volume is simply going to outstrip out ability to apply principles like proportionality,” he added.

Dan Katz, professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law: “Law will become an applied branch of finance.”

Katz proposed to the audience that legal technology’s future will be rife with overlap with “fintech,” technology designed for the financial services industry. “I think that legal tech and fintech are kind of on a collision course with one another,” he said.

But Katz’ proposal broadened out even further. “Law will become an applied branch of finance,” he said. Katz explained that so much of law hinges today on its financing, and thus the statistical models needed to account for the business of law will start to guide law practice itself.

The audience gasped. Panelists appreciated Katz’ logic, but disagreed with his conclusion. “There’s a lot to learn from financial services,” Dennis Garcia said. “But I don’t see for the foreseeable future the legal profession being subsumed by the financial services industry.”

“I see finance and law becoming more like branches of mathematics,” Francis countered.

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