Information management in 2020

In 2013, the European legal sector emerged from five years of economic downturn. Market consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, and a fundamental change in regulations stipulating how legal firms can operate define today’s landscape for the legal services industry. 

This short paper looks at the longer-term impact and what it could mean for information management in the legal sector over the next five to ten years.

Emerging trends and information challenges

1. Market consolidation and international expansion

The recent trend of mergers and acquisitions is likely to continue in the coming years, with 83%1 of the Top 25 firms in the UK believing a merger is very or fairly likely by 2016. Continuing reforms in the legal sector and cuts to legal aid funding are considered to be the biggest drivers behind these mergers2.

Most mergers are expected to involve a non-UK based firm, highlighting a second important market trend: international expansion. The globalisation of the legal sector is driven by the globalisation of the business community it serves, and is introducing new challenges in terms of cross-border variations in laws and regulation.

Mergers and acquisitions as well as globalisation
have significant impact on information management. The way in which records and information systems are integrated among merged firms, or across national boundaries, will be instrumental to the organisation’s operational efficiency. Information management policies should encompass not just newly created documents but historical paper archives. Moving forward, organisations need to
be able to develop and roll-out a unified information management and retrieval process. Employee training and engagement will be vital for success.

To smooth the path of integration and geographical expansion, legal firms will need to embrace a paper record digitisation programme to ensure all documents can be easily stored and retrieved by staff wherever they are. Policies and practices for the digitisation of records, as well as what to do
with all information formats, needs to be clearly communicated to help staff run an efficient practice. A merger or acquisition may be a good point

to move to a paper light approach, where key documents are scanned and stored for easy access and older documents are securely archived offsite. 

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