Law 2023 Update #1: Has Technology Enabled Lawyers to Bill for Real Value?

by Deb Knupp /

For the next several weeks on the blog, we’re going check in on the progress of predictions made by the groundbreaking guide to the future of law firms, Law 2023. In 2013, a group of forward-thinking lawyers and executives in the legal industry spent a full year mapping the most significant trends in technology, economics, and cultural change to how law firms actually work. Then they made predictions about how disruptions to the industry would change how lawyers work and what firms need to do to thrive in the future.


We’re halfway to 2023. Let’s check in on how technology is reshaping value for clients.


The prediction: The most powerful new technologies will likely be developed by innovators outside the traditional legal industry, and nimble firms will incorporate useful tools to reduce costs, no matter where those tools come from. Firms will also hire technologists in house, and discover entirely new forms of practice, like computer-assisted law, that can only be pursued in this technological environment.

Where we are today: Five years ago, people were worried that technology would eliminate the need for lawyers. But in 2018, technology has become the baseline that enables lawyers who use it to provide better counsel and more sophisticated strategy. Technology does the grunt work, but people provide insight, analysis, and vision, and those are the things that hold real value for clients. As with all our predictions, some firms are moving faster than others to embrace these changes. But firms that are faring well today do so in part because they understand that technology has created permanent changes and they must adapt.

What it looks like so far: E-discovery tools; AI contract management tools; technology that creates baseline compliance in fields like employment law; tools for the management of data privacy; tools that manage legal products and processes and create sustainable budgets and predictable timelines; tech that helps law firms make choices on staffing, how to bill, the appropriate style of billing, and how to establish rates.

Though we have not yet seen AI replace headcount, we see how being able to access information through technology allows lawyers to provide premium advice, premium insight, and do premium billing.