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    December 7th, 2016

    ♫ Hey, how you like it?
    How you like it?
    I see the future, baby
    You and I, better with time…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Bryan Michael Paul Cox, Johnta M. Austin, Kendrick Ashley Jevon Dean, Mary J. Blige, recorded by Mary J. Blige.




    In this first instalment of the predictions for 2017 ( I just asked for submissions yesterday! ), we have predictions from:

    • Colin Rule
    • André Coetzee
    • Ross Fishman
    • Bob Denney
    • Sharon Nelson and John Simek

    More predictions will follow in Part 2!

    Colin Rule:

    crule at cpr[1]

    Wow, Buzz nailed it last year! I was overly optimistic about timing, but I still feel my 2016 prediction is on track.

    Here’s my 2017 version:
    The time has come for ODR in the Courts in North America.  You’ll see major statewide and province-wide pilots of ODR technology within legal service bureaus (following the lead of MyLawBC) as well as in individual courts, especially family, small claims, and traffic.  Tools digitizing the courts from within like Matterhorn ( will also continue to gain traction, with companies like Tyler and Xerox paying close attention.  Conferences for judges and court administrators will have technologists delivering the keynotes, focusing specifically on mobile and the preferences of the younger generation.  There will also be a big jump in attention paid to ODR standards and certification efforts.  As it becomes clearer that ODR is for real, many articles will be written identifying the challenges behind ensuring quality and preventing kangaroo courts from cropping up.  New initiatives will be launched to expand dispute resolution ethics to cover systems designers and ODR platforms, in addition to updating ethics for individual mediators and arbitrators to specifically address the ethical conundrums that technology can engender.  Also, we’ll see more critical/skeptical coverage of ODR emerge in mainstream press (especially from legal journalists) as the move toward ODR in the courts starts to build up momentum.
    Thanks, David!  Have a lovely holiday…

    About Colin:

    Colin Rule is Co-Founder and COO of, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley. From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School.

    Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

    Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Pepperdine University, Creighton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University.

    Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He serves on the boards of the Consensus Building Institute and the PeaceTech Lab at the United States Institute of Peace. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

    André Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Predictions for 2017

    • Firms instead of adding more square footage to their office space as they grow, will turn to hosted services to create a hybrid of physical office space with legal professionals working virtually, saving time, money and creating a great modern working environment;
    • Technology being flexible, mobile and nimble are all expected from legal professionals. Being able to work from anywhere and enjoying flexible hours will assist firms in attracting top young talent who not only want a successful career but also work life balance;
    • Powerful mobile devices allow firms to leverage technology advancements in web based video conferencing to more efficiently communicate with clients and staff alike;
    • An even greater push to go paperless resulting in reduced cost, better efficiencies and the added bonus of saving the planet. By moving to paperless offices there will be more demand for document management software that allows firms to access and search for digital documents quickly and easily;
    • Continued focus on security and protection of data:
      • greater adoption of two factor authentication;
      • more centralized user access management and single sign on to the myriad of applications people use i.e. getting the user access to what they need at the right time with the right privileges;
      • predictive security software and tools to protect firm’s data against ransomware and other malicious attacks;
    • Applications that extract data from multiple legal and business applications\data sources and then mines and analyzes the data to pick up trends and perform predictive forecasting. This will lead to better serving clients and potentially finding new ones;
    • Integration of CRM based applications with VoIP on a hosted desktop i.e. being able to call a client by clicking on their number in your CRM application and dialing from your VoIP soft phone loaded on your hosted desktop. When a client calls in it will automatically pick up their company and contact information and pop up on your screen before you answer the call;
    • The way we interact with technology is going to be more experiential and tactile driven by Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Check out Magic Leap for a glimpse of the not too distant future –;

    André Coetzee, MBA, PMP, BA, H.Dip.Ed.

    (Master’s in Business Administration, Project Management Professional, Bachelor of Arts, Higher Diploma in Education)

    Andre Coetzee is a Director and a founding partner of i-worx, a Premium Hosting Service Provider for law firms. Andre is constantly researching and exploring new and better Hosted IT services with the goal of continuously providing legal firms a premier IT experience. As a result i-worx has developed a reputation for delivering innovative Hosted IT services to law firms, including Hosted Desktops, Hosted Email and secure file sharing with exceptional personalized service. For more information or to learn more about how hosted services could benefit your Firm, call 604.639.6300 or email


    Ross Fishman



    Although future predictions are always challenging, my 2017 crystal ball is looking more like a Magic 8 Ball — “Try again later.”  At the moment, Cassandra can’t even foresee what she’s going to have for lunch. (And who’d believe her anyway?)

    That being said, in light of the new political environment, I’m feeling pretty confident about my predictions, below.   Here are the practice areas I feel are going to be especially hot in 2017, and why:

    • In 2017, the new administration will enact harsh new regulations, risking a trade war with China, and making international trade an especially hot practice. Unless, you know, they don’t.  And it isn’t.
    • We’ll start building a wall with Mexico, generating high demand for both construction and immigration lawyers. Unless we don’t.  And they aren’t.
    • The US Supreme Court nominee will be provocative and polarizing, increasing demand for Supreme Court specialists. Unless s/he isn’t.  And it doesn’t.
    • A major Twitter faux pas will create an international incident in Latin America, expanding Florida-based Latin American practices. Unless that never happens.

    Hell, I don’t know. I got nuthin’.


    “Many people consider [Ross] to be the nation’s foremost expert on law firm marketing.” – Of Counsel magazine

    Ross Fishman, JD, is CEO of Fishman Marketing, specializing in strategy, branding, and websites for law firms.  A former litigator, marketing director, and marketing partner, he has helped 200 firms stand out from the competition and generate revenue (see for 100 case studies).  A popular keynote speaker and Ethics CLE presenter, he has given 250 presentations worldwide.  Ross’s popular “The Ultimate Law Firm Associate’s Marketing Checklist,” called a “marketing bible” by Of Counsel magazine, is available on Amazon at

    A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he was the first inductee into the Legal Marketing Association’s “Hall of Fame.” Contact him at or +1.847.432.3546.  Follow him on LinkedIn ( and Twitter @rossfishman), and subscribe to


    Bob Denney

    Robert Denney

    Here are my humble – and not-so-humble – predictions:

    • There are always changes in the legal profession, particularly in
      the United States, when there is a change in Administration. There
      will be more than ever in the next few years under the Trump
    • Immigration and cybersecurity will have the most dramatic growth.
    • The push for Alternate Energy will cool down, at least in the U.S.
    • Law firms will hire more professional business developers, i.e.
      non-lawyer sales executives, following what has been a common
      strategy in the accounting profession for decades.
    • Some law schools will close because of the continued decline in
      jobs for their graduates.
    • The number of Alternate Business Providers – non-lawyer entities
      – and the services they provide will continue to grow.
    • Alternate Business Structures (ABSs) with non-lawyer ownership or
      investment will be approved in Canada but not yet in the U.S.
    • The number of non-lawyer management and administrative positions
      in even mid-size firms will grow.




    Bob Denney has provided incisive management, business development and leadership counsel to over 400 law firms and legal organizations throughout the United States and parts of Canada  He is the author of the highly regarded reports on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.”

    He has been a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, has served on the Board of the Legal Marketing Association and is a member of the LMA’s Hall of fame.  He has written or co-authored seven books, two of which were published by the American Bar Association, as well as articles that have appeared in many legal publications. He has been interviewed by the ABA Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times and has conducted webinars and national TV seminars on law firm management and business development.

    Bob has addressed conferences sponsored by The American Lawyer, the ABA, the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of British Columbia, the Association of Legal Administrators, the Legal Marketing Association and numerous state bar associations.  He has also been a guest speaker at several law schools.

    He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania.  After serving as an officer in the Navy, he did post-graduate work at the Wharton School towards an MBA.  In the first phase of his career, Bob was President of a national cosmetics company and was also Vice-Chairman of that industry’s principal trade association. In that capacity, along with Ralph Nader, he testified before a Senate sub-committee.

    In addition to being active in charitable and professional organizations, Bob and his wife have raised nine children and live in suburban Philadelphia.

    Note:  Some of Bob’s articles as well as many of his Legal Communiques are published on his web site,, 154 Chandler Drive, West Chester, PA 19380• 610-431-2077 • cell 610-804-7850, email: • web site:


    Sharon Nelson and John Simek

    simekSharon Nelson 2

    Predictions for Dave Bilinsky

    1. Our first prediction is that no one will know what cybersecurity will look like until the Trump presidency is well underway. Mr. Trump is an unknown. If what he says is true, he does not value privacy in the context of what he sees as the fight against ISIS and others – and this does not bode well for the Constitution. Mind you, we were not happy with some of the privacy invasions which took place under Mr. Obama’s administration.
    2. Ransomware will get ever MORE crafty – and ransoms, which have gone up sharply in 2016, are likely to go even higher. It is not unusual at this point to see bitcoin ransoms in the $2500 range where law firms are compromised.
    3. The media has begun to report that the luster is off Apple and we believe that trend will continue. The truly innovative days of Steve Jobs appear to be gone. We have seen many clients switch from iPhones to Androids and embrace the Surface Pro.
    4. An increasing focus on tech CLEs seems likely. Florida, in 2016, mandated tech CLEs and we, in Virginia, have seen VSB TECHSHOW (capped at 500 attendees) sell out twice – and we expect to see it fully sold out again in April of 2017 – there is a great hunger among lawyers for good tech CLEs by speakers they can understand.
    5. We expect more major IoT breaches of personally identifiable information. We are at the point where it may cause actual physical harm or a huge financial impact.
    6. Continued implementation of encryption everywhere is very likely. Encryption by default is now standard in so many places.
    7. We predict, sadly, that a lot of solo and small practitioners will find that they are not selling what clients want to buy – primarily lower prices when technology is effectively leveraged.
    8. We also expect to see a greater usage of client portals – another way of protecting confidential data – and a feature that clients absolutely love.
    9. Block chain technology will begin to make inroads in the legal process as a method of authentication.
    10. Lawyers will increasingly understand that they must “fish where the fish are” – in social media. We have seen a great interest in CLEs which teach attorneys how to effectively manage and leverage social media.

    About John and Sharon:

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. 

    Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.”

    She is a frequent author (fifteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014 and a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation.

    She may be reached at 

    John W. Simek

    Mr. Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., an information technology, digital forensics and information security firm located in Fairfax, VA. Mr. Simek has a national reputation as a digital forensics technologist and has testified as an expert witness throughout the United States. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA in finance from Saint Joseph’s University.

    Mr. Simek holds the prestigious Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE) certifications in addition to multiple other technical certifications. He currently provides information technology support to hundreds of Washington, DC area law firms, legal entities and corporations. He is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast Digital Detectives. He is a frequent author (fifteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics.

    He may be reached at

    Thank you to all the authors!  We will gaze further into the future in Part 2!


    This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 10:56 am and is filed under Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “2017 Predictions – Part 1”
    1. David Bilinsky - Thoughtful Legal Management Says:

      […] 2017 Predictions – Part 1 2017 Predictions Part 2 December 12th, […]

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