man throwing pdf types into the air

PDF types - How many are there?

Eight apparently, or is it three? PDFs are ubiquitous these days, and yet, like the internet, they haven't been around for long. The PDF first appeared in 1993 and for most people it is now the de facto way to share digital documents. For those of us using PDFs, or building products that use them, it's worth knowing that the humble PDF is not humble at all, there are many PDF types, all to given standards.

This 'range' falls roughly into different ways of categorising PDF types themselves: Technical and Everyday. Technically, PDFs have ISO standards and the like, standards for different business sectors and archiving, for engineering and for printing. There are point releases (have you heard of PDF 2.0?) and subsets (surely you know PDF/VT?), none of which, like any good ISO, impinge on our daily life, but are the hidden backbone to it.

Of more interest to most of us are what PDFs there are in everyday parlance, this is much simpler to grasp. Depending on the way the file originated, there are three main types of PDF documents. How the PDF was originally created defines whether the content of the PDF (text, images, tables) can be accessed or whether it is “locked” in an image of the page.


Everyday PDF Types:

  • Real PDFs
  • Scanned PDFs
  • Searchable PDFs


1. Real PDFs:

Real PDFs, also known as digitally created PDFs are ideal for most applications. This is usually the ideal PDF that allows the users to mark up, annotate, search, and copy/paste. Without having to do an extra step. You can easily create them in-app or via the "print" function. You can search these types of PDFs by default, and content such as text and images copied /pasted into other file formats.

Both the meta-information and the characters in the text hold an electronic character designation. With PDF Editors and other document readers you can search through these PDFs. You can also edit, select, or delete any of the content it holds. But not if the document itself has password protection.


2. Scanned PDFs:

Scanned PDFs are just an image of the actual text, so the content is "locked" in a snapshot-like image. This is the same as converting a camera image, a screenshot, jpg or tiff into a PDF. These image-only PDF files are not searchable, and their text usually cannot be modified or easily marked up. This is because they are scanned/photographed images of the pages, and thus without an underlying text layer.

You can converted these kinds of image-only PDFs from non-readable text into readable text, through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine. This engine adds an underlying text layer into the image-like PDF. Do note that this is not the same as simply producing text output which will result in a text document, this is probably quite different in layout to the original PDF, see below for more detail.


3. Searchable PDFs:

A searchable PDF is a result of applying the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) function into the non-readable PDF or image-like PDF. During the text recognition process, the software analyses and 'reads' the characters and document structure. This results in the PDF file having 2 layers: one layer containing the image and the second layer containing the recognised text for searching, annotating and copying / pasting just like it can in a real PDF. Such PDF files are almost indistinguishable from the original documents. The gold standard is being able to convert PDF to text on the fly, in-application, when you need to.  Casedo can do that for you, take a look at this article to find out more.




  • For another spin on the 'three types of pdfs', go to the Abbyy website article HERE
  • If you want a technical look at the 8 different actual 'standards' that exist for pdfs, Marconet has a good explanation HERE
  • Iceni Technology talks, briefly, about 'mixed' pdfs HERE
  • Over at there is another more technical article which puts pdfs into a historical perspective, HERE


UPDATED: 2022.11.04

Man struggling to Choose Software Solutions

How We Choose Software Solutions at Casedo

What a legal tech software company has learned about how they choose software solutions

As we recently wrote, having to choose software solutions can be daunting. And although we're a software company, it's no less daunting for us to find the right solution. Generally, in selecting new software solutions, we try our hardest to "do as we say" and follow our best practices. That's a multi-step process, with us focused on (1) gathering information from our team, placing a special emphasis on identifying pain points, (2) keeping those pain points in focus as we research software solutions, (3) avoiding software with a trial period shorter than 30 days, and—perhaps most importantly—(4) selecting software that supports our ideal workflows, picking software that bends to us rather than the reverse.    Today, we'll pass along additional in-house tenets on selecting software.


How We Choose Software Solutions at a Glance

  • Just say "no" to feature creep.
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Take a sip before a gulp.


Just say "no" to feature creep

We're software geeks. We naturally love features. And, like anyone else, we light up when we come across a beautiful webpage for a software product—especially a well-designed "Features" page that piques our interests and convinces us to download the demo straightaway. However, as much as we love new features, we're constantly on the lookout for "Feature Creep," a phenomenon Wikipedia defines as "the excessive ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, especially in computer software," with the "extra features go[ing] beyond the basic function of the product" and "result[ing] in software bloat and over-complication, rather than simple design."    If you head into the hardware store looking for a buy-it-for life hammer, the hammer you want is probably not bundled with a wrench, a screwdriver, and a box of screws. When exploring potential software solutions, we try to remember what we came into the store for—and try to avoid getting pulled into bundle deals or jam-packed software offerings that distract us from that clear, simple mission. It also keeps us in the right pocket of the User Happiness Curve.


Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

You might have heard it from your mentor: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (This sort of saying has been around for centuries.) And just as it's a helpful aphorism when completing your work, it's helpful to remember when selecting software solutions. First, do you really need a solution? And do you really need one right now? We all know that selecting solutions to improve workflows can temporarily derail those workflows—because you're focused on something other than the task at hand. If you're process nerds like we are, you might enjoy optimizing workflows. Are you sure the urge to find a solution isn't your monkey brain helping you procrastinate?    Once you've sorted things out and are sure you need a software solution, apply the principle again as you're selecting a solution. Just as it's easy to get pulled in by Feature Creep, it's easy to get dazzled by better/faster/slicker offerings. Sometimes, though, those offerings come at a cost. There's the hard cost as the price ticks up. There's also another cost, in that you'll likely delay decision-making—and thereby delay your time to implement improved workflows—while overwhelmed by the choices. Suddenly, you have an Excel document open weighing pros/cons of incredibly similar software. And, more likely than not, you came across a good enough solution in your first few searches. Heed the wisdom from the famous Jam Study and try to avoid option overload.


Trust but verify

When we choose software solutions, few things drive us more bananas than a broad webpage that sounds great...but puts all the detailed feature information behind a login screen. It feels like a ploy to get our e-mail address and start marketing to us. Along these lines, we get a bit frustrated when we see software companies touting "free" solutions and listing tons and tons of features in/around the word free, only to later reveal that those features are only included as part of the paid version. It's a bit of a bait and switch. And when you shoot straight like we do, that approach just doesn't sit well. We've learned to apply the time-tested "trust but verify" approach to reviewing website content (although we wish we didn't have to do that). We are constantly on the lookout for when a solution seems too good to be true. And we are also mindful of data-mining practices, cognizant of the principle that if you're not paying for the product, you may well be the product.


Take a sip before a gulp

As much as we love going full steam ahead, we want our software solutions to fit well. And the only way we'll know if they fit well is if we demo them. As we've written about before, we believe that most software demos should be at least 30 days long, which generally gives us enough time to put the software to the test. We also believe that a demo period should be just that—a demo period. Rather than take a big gulp of the software, take a sip. Run a small project on the back of the software. Maybe even a piece of a project. Try to isolate features you are most curious about. Else, you might reach the end of your free trial fascinated by the possibilities but lacking an adequate understanding of the meat and potatoes to make an informed decision.


Bringing it All Together

Just as we try to follow best practices when you choose software solutions, we also strive to give our customers the experience we’d want if we were in their shoes. That’s why:

  • We offer a fully featured 30-day trial of Casedo. You can try every feature in Casedo during the trial period—and that’s important to us. That way, would-be Casedo users can try out all the workflow-improving features without wondering what’s hidden behind a paywall.
  • We refuse to require credit information to start the 30-day trial of Casedo. Because we’re all busy and no one likes a “gotcha” at the end of a trial period.
  • We take a measured approach to adding features. We don’t want Casedo to do everything under the sun. We want it to do everything lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students need it to do—without becoming another feature-bloated digital distraction. We never add features without deep consideration.


Ready to take Casedo on a test drive?

You’ll love Casedo if:

  • You've felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents.
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents.
  • You'd like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs.
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many.


**Updated September 25, 2022**

Choosing technology

Best Practices in Choosing Legal Technology Software

Learn tried-and-true strategies to help you choose the right legal tech.

Choosing any new software, especially legal tech software, can be daunting—in large part due to the number of options out there. We've been on both sides of the selection process, having carefully chosen our own software solutions and also helped scores of lawyers and judges implement software to suit their workflows. In this article, we distil our insight and pass along best practices in choosing legal technology software. (Stay tuned for our upcoming feature on best practices in implementing legal tech.) 


Best Practices in Choosing Legal Tech at a Glance:


Gather information from your user base, attempting to understand pain points.

Here's one of the biggest missteps in choosing legal tech: failing to formally touch base with the users. (It's the same even if you have a team of one!) It's tempting to start exploring solutions, launching a Google quest and seeing what turns up. But before you head down the rabbit hole, you want to be sure you understand the problem you're trying to solve. By slowing down and taking time up front to inform your research, you'll save time downstream—more efficiently and effectively exploring potential solutions. 

The best way to gather information from a group of users is through a well-constructed survey. Most office suites include a survey tool (for example, Microsoft offers Forms in its 365 subscription) and you might have seen a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey. There are also ample resources on the web that can help you put together an effective survey. (We like the 10 foundational tips here.) Ultimately, however you construct your survey, your goal should be to learn where the pain points are with current workflows. And you might be surprised by what you learn. For example, it's not uncommon to discover that you don't need new legal tech software—you actually need a training initiative to make better use of your existing tools. You won't know until you ask. 


Focus on alleviating those pain points as you research software solutions.

Once you've gathered user input, it's time to start the research phase. It might go without saying, but that user input—and those pain points—should guide the research process. Along these lines, it's worth keeping in mind just how easy it is to get pulled in by exciting pages on software websites, coming across a snazzy solution that seems to offer more, more, more than your existing solution for even less money. Maybe the solution offers more for less, but does it address all those pain points? If not, you may wind up with the same problems you started with. (Indeed, beware of Feature Creep!). 

To be sure, user pain points aren't the only parameters for decision-making. You'll have to consider cost as well. But if you use the survey responses as guideposts, you can more effectively navigate through the solutions, separating wheat from chaff. 


Choose software that supports your ideal workflows—avoid bending to the software.

If you see a legal tech company touting a "new and improved" legal workflow, we suggest raising one eyebrow. In our experience, the best legal tech software doesn't offer up a "new and improved" workflow. Rather, the best legal tech software is designed to support your ideal workflows. It helps you work the way you want to work. Although there might be some degree of compromise in choosing software, we suggest finding legal tech that bends toward you and not the other way around. Put differently, you shouldn't have to adopt brand-new workflows. Your legal tech should fit YOU. 


Avoid legal tech software with a trial period shorter than 30 days.

It takes time to properly demo new software. And you shouldn't have to pay a dime while you're putting the software through its paces. Of course, not all free trials are equal. For example, when a trial is only 7 or 14 days long, it puts undue pressure on a prospective user: "Hurry up and pay or lose access!" Along these lines, some software companies fail to offer monthly subscriptions, pushing you toward annual contracts before you've gotten to decide whether the solution is right for you. Even worse, you'll find software companies that require a credit card to start a free demo, putting the onus on you to remember to "cancel" before your trial period turns into a paid period. We're not telling you anything you don't know. We just don't know why these practices are prevalent. 

In our experience as users, we feel like 30 days is the "sweet spot" for having ample opportunity to try a new legal tech solution. In 30 days, you'll have a good sense of whether you want to adopt the software. Mostly likely, you'll be at the point where you're deciding whether the solution fits into the budget. At that point, maybe it's worth paying for a month or two as you make the best decision possible to improve your workflows. 


Interested in how we choose software at Casedo? Click HERE for an article about how we bring these best practices into action at Casedo. 


Bringing It All Together

We've covered best practices in choosing legal tech software—a process that means something to us because we've been on both sides of it. Indeed, we created Casedo because we couldn't find software that helped us view, compare, and work through legal documents the way we wanted to work through them. And we offer a fully unlocked 30-day demo of Casedo—no credit card required—because we want prospective users to be free from the pressure we felt when seeking software solutions. At the end of the day, we want Casedo to fit your ideal workflow, so you love Casedo as much as we do. 


You might like to try Casedo if: 

  • You've felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents. 
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents. 
  • You'd like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs. 
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many.


**Updated September 13, 2022**

Casedo Solves Common Problems with Legal Workflows

Casedo Solves Common Problems with Legal Workflows

In short: Casedo makes it easy to navigate dozens of PDFs and master both your case file and your legal research. 


Casedo was built by lawyers for lawyers. And it was built because no other software company seemed to understand how lawyers work with multiple documents. In this series, we’ll look at common workflow problems with legal workflows that lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students face when working on cases and legal research—and we’ll explore how Casedo solves these problems.


Common Problems with Legal Workflows that Casedo Solves:





Common Legal Workflow Problem #1: “The Mess of Tabs and Windows.” 


“I need to master the case file, which contains dozens of PDFs and Word Documents. Because I move among documents, my digital desktop is a mess of windows and tabs in Adobe Acrobat and Word. It’s a bit chaotic. Moreover, trying to find the document I want is interrupting my thought processes.”



How Casedo Solves “The Mess of Tabs and Windows.”


Casedo is a tab-free digital workspace that puts all your case files within one click, freeing lawyers from cascading windows and the minimize/maximize dance. With multiple viewing areas in Casedo, you can rapidly toggle from document to document. Moreover, rather than have one case folder with dozens of PDFs and Word Docs, you’ll have one Casedo file—a tidy place to work through the record and master even the most complex of case files. 

Laptop displaying the intuitive tab free workspace in Casedo
Casedo's intuitive workspace makes it easy to navigate through dozens of documents without using tabs.


Solving “The Mess of Tabs and Windows” was a big reason we created Casedo, because we needed a better way to navigate to key documents, both in the courtroom and in the office. And we’re pleased to hear from users that Casedo is solving this workflow problem: 


“Casedo provides the benefits of a paper bundle—particularly being able to quickly hold pages up against each other, highlight bits of text, and ‘stick a post-it in’—with all the benefits of search and speed that digital files have.”

Tom Haggie, Barrister, QEB


“I found Casedo really easy to use. It is intuitive, not cluttered with various menus and options and you could really get going with it in a matter of minutes.”

Peter Goff, Litigant in Person




Common Legal Workflow Problem #2: “The Siloed Approach to File Organization and Annotation.” 


“I use a digital folder system and I put the entire case file in one place. The trouble is, I must open the dozens of documents one by one. And I have no way of building relationships between those documents. Ultimately, although the documents are foldered together, it’s difficult to interact with those documents at the same time.” 



How Casedo Solves “The Siloed Approach to File Organization and Annotation.”


For legal professionals, a case-by-case foldering system isn’t enough—lawyers need a way to map out how files relate to one another, keeping track of those connections when working through the record. To support a lawyer’s thinking process, Casedo lets you drag-and-drop all the case files into a single Casedo file. Once those documents are in that Casedo file, all you need to do is open the file to have ready access to every important document. From there, you have powerful tools to reach across documents: 


  • Casedo lets you build links between files, so you can easily navigate between them. You can create your own pathways through the case file, making it easy to jump to related information. Gone are the days of writing out key page numbers by hand. With Casedo, you can make links and jump right to the important page. 




  • Casedo gives you one search bar to search the entire case file, saving you time. Other software doesn’t understand that case files are related, forcing you to open documents one by one to search for a key phrase or passage. Casedo gives you a better way to work, offering a single search bar to search the dozens of documents you’ve placed inside your Casedo file. 




  • Casedo makes it easy to annotate your files with highlights, bookmarks, and comments. With a full suite of annotation tools, Casedo supports lawyers through the entire lifecycle of a case—from the initial mastery of the record to the final stages of developing arguments into strong written or oral advocacy. 



We’re proud to hear from Casedo users about how easy it is to build relationships between ideas and annotate cases in Casedo: 


“It enables you to link, view and annotate multiple sources and save, share and archive your work as a single project. Intuitive and easy to use, I have not seen anything else like it—as such it is truly revolutionary.”

Tom Longden, Director of Marketing & Communications, City University.


“Casedo provides the benefits of a paper bundle—particularly being able to quickly hold pages up against each other, highlight bits of text, and ‘stick a post-it in’—with all the benefits of search and speed that digital files have.”

Tom Haggie, Barrister, QEB




Common Legal Workflow Problem #3: “The Hassles of Assembling and Paginating a PDF for E-Filing”


“I need to assemble multiple PDFs and Word Docs into a single PDF—one that looks good and is properly paginated so I can e-file it with the court. However, this takes forever and I’ve resorted to writing page numbers on the PDF I put together because it’s simply faster than using the software tools currently available to me.”




How Casedo Solves “The Hassles of Assembling and Paginating a PDF for E-Filing”


PDFs themselves are a problem, and there is more than just a single type of PDF, but you have to work with them! A lawyer’s time is valuable, better spent analyzing cases rather than dealing with fussy software or writing numbers on pages. It should take thirty seconds—not thirty minutes—to organize documents into a single PDF, stamp them with page numbers, and export a PDF that’s ready for e-filing. Casedo is a time-saving software solution that’s built for the job, making it easy for you to build an Appendix, Exhibit Volumes, and other bundles of documents you’d like to tender to the court in a single e-filing. 


  • Casedo makes it easy to assemble a PDF with an intuitive drag-and-drop system. Just load all the PDFs and Word Docs into Casedo. Once you’ve loaded the files, you can easily reorganize them by intuitive dragging-and-dropping. 




  • Casedo lets you paginate with just one click. There’s a slider at the bottom of Casedo that offers up one-click pagination. Change your mind and want to reorder the documents? Go ahead and reorder them. Casedo will automatically update the page numbers to match the new location. 




  • Casedo makes it easy export your PDF. Once you're satisfied with your new document, Casedo makes it easy to export the PDF—immediately ready for e-filing. 





Easy PDF assembly and export for e-filing is one of the most popular features in Casedo: 


“Casedo is an extremely efficient and intuitive e-bundling tool, particularly useful for courtroom advocates. It’s leagues ahead of its Adobe counterparts, and likely to significantly reduce case preparation time. Casedo is fantastic software.”

Joe Rainer, Barrister, QEB 



Bringing it All Together 


These are just a few of the common problems with legal workflows that Casedo solves for the modern legal professional. If you haven’t tried Casedo yet, we encourage you to give Casedo a test drive for free during a fully featured thirty-day trial. You’ll find Casedo especially helpful if: 


  • You've felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents. 
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents. 
  • You'd like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs. 
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many. 



Ready to give Casedo a go? We offer a completely free 30-day trial, so you can see how Casedo will transform your work. Sign up here today.



Will the legal sector embrace Artificial Intelligence?

The rise of artificial intelligence technologies has reimagined the delivery of legal services. Milad Shojaei evaluates how AI challenges current business models, where we encounter resistance and if new systems can effectively replace lawyers.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gained substantial traction in the legal sector, and many legal professionals share concerns on the impact it can have. AI has the potential to recognise errors, review contracts and locate and process relevant data faster than humans. To put it simply, it offers us the opportunity to exceed our own capabilities, with the ability to draw conclusions and decisions based on processed information and previous experience.

AI is already being utilised by law firms to conduct research and as a means of performing more efficiently and diligently. In 2018, a study by CBRE revealed that nearly half of London law firms are currently using AI, and 41% have plans to do so. AI offers lawyers tremendous opportunities in automating complex and heavy labour processes, alongside saving costs and valuable time. It is also suggested as a viable solution to the alarming backlogged court system.

Although most AI-driven systems are in the early stages of development, it is clear that AI has already made its mark in the legal sector. With this said, why are legal professionals hesitant to embrace AI, and is the concern justified?


Is the legal sector ready for AI?

Legal consumers have always been reluctant to adopt new technologies, and AI is a relatively new development in legal innovation. It is complex and can be particularly challenging to comprehend and apply. Legal professionals are not trained in computing, but still have a duty of competence to their clients through the SRA and BSB codes of conduct. How does this duty apply to the use and understanding of AI technology in the legal sector? If legal professionals are to use AI, they must first understand it. This includes the ability to identify specific algorithms, configurations and data sets, all of which relate to specialist knowledge that most typical law firms lack. The wider application of AI in the legal sector therefore raises ethical apprehensions concerning competence, diligence and oversight.

Although the case for AI is substantial, the legal sector's resistance to it is also telling. Law firms are reluctant to engage with AI-based technologies as it necessitates a complete transformation of established practices. Although the core purpose of Legal innovation is to transform the landscape, AI advances a drastic overhaul that should be considered more carefully. The legal sector currently lacks the infrastructure and culture to accommodate AI. This is compounded by an alarming skills gap and concerns with data security. Although larger firms have shown an aptitude for embracing new complex technologies, smaller firms that lack the resources to fund the acquisition and effective use of AI will struggle to keep pace with the process.

Applying AI-based tools in the legal sector accompanies significant risks if it is not done correctly. Law firms run this risk when focusing on the benefits of an innovative tool, without understanding the impact on operations, or how to best leverage the advantages associated with it. As it stands, most law firms lack the personnel that have practical AI experience for wider-spread adoption. Moreover, If AI-driven solutions are to be utilised widely, regulators within the sector will also require more specialism in the field.


Are lawyers right to be reserved about AI?

Despite the sophisticated nature of AI, it still depends on human input and data. AI technologies ultimately learn to make decisions based on training data, which is prone to include biased human choices or other sensitive variables. The potential for biases is undeniable as AI technologies that are managed by humans will naturally be subject to some impartiality. This has been reinforced by studies of AI-driven systems where inherent biases were unwittingly demonstrated by human creators. Further extensive research has also suggested that AI models can implant human and societal biases and expand them at scale.

A study by the New York University’s AI Now Institute demonstrated that AI systems were principally designed by affluent white males. This presents a considerable concern as biased data will inevitably lead to biased AI. Further, AI-driven machines can potentially isolate statistical correlations that are unlawful while reinforcing the stereotypes that can be found with humans creators. Together, this illustrates the potential issues that biased AI can have for equality in the legal sector. Although AI offers lawyers a step forward with innovation and improved efficiency, we must first ensure that there is greater investment in bias research, with a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the problem.


“The fact that we have backlogs resulting in a failure to give people the individualized attention they deserve tells us there’s something fundamentally wrong with our justice system. Expediting the mass processing of people using AI isn’t the answer. It’s the opposite of justice.”

Song Richardson, Dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law


Artificial Intelligence vs Human Intelligence

AI can assist lawyers in investigating and analysing, but it lacks the necessary empathy, creativity and augmentative reasoning that is required to carry out legal work competently. Despite AI systems offering specialism in processing data, it is still incapable of applying common sense or thinking abstractly as humans do.

AI cannot function optimally without relying on innately human attributes like human intuition. Real lawyers can learn from experience, comprehend complex concepts, apply logical reasoning, recognise patterns and weigh up competing interests before making balanced decisions. What distinguishes human intelligence from artificial intelligence is our unique ability to work with passion, motivation and self-awareness, as opposed to mimicking these actions through processed data and specific instructions fed into a digital system. Although AI-powered systems can perform mundane and repetitive tasks efficiently, they cannot replace the most complex thing in the universe, the human brain. AI falls outside the remit of Intelligent thought and behaviour; it cannot think and as such, falls short of human capabilities. Supplementary tools like Casedo enhance our existing capabilities, whereas AI aims to reduce the input of human reasoning.

With this said, the legal sector should aim to utilise AI to enhance the work of legal professionals, instead of replacing them. This would allow lawyers to perform tasks more efficiently while freeing up time to undertake more rewarding work.


Final Thoughts

AI-powered technology offers the legal sector an invaluable tool, and it is best utilised in automating and simplifying repetitive research-based tasks. Despite its tremendous potential, it still accompanies justifiable apprehensions and requires the application of human intelligence. The future of AI will likely continue to be governed by human abilities, and it is imperative that the sector prioritises legal innovation that supplements lawyers, not those that aim to replace them. The latter will only curtail the recognition of technology as a viable solution to existing problems and stunt growth as we advance.


While you’re here, why not read our article on ‘Is artificial intelligence making lawyers redundant’? Click HERE for the full text.

Dashboard on Laptop

Legal Tech on the rise: is the UK falling behind?

Milad Shojaei investigates the global trends in legal tech and the UK’s role within it. With regions across the world endorsing greater reliance on technology and automation, it is vital that the UK is ahead of the curve. Exploring what our counterparts are doing right, can tell us much about what we are doing wrong.


Technology has changed the face of everything, and the law is no exception. Law firms worldwide are employing digital strategists and embracing the benefits of legal tech. As the technological revolution takes hold, the question beckons, are the tides changing at the same pace globally? All justice systems are facing the same problems and tech startups have delivered many of the most innovative solutions. However, they face resistance from the conventional operations the sector has come to know and overcoming this is a common challenge endured by many legal departments globally. 



The global response


Developments in technology have transformed the legal practice in obvious ways. Law firms that have historically distanced themselves from the pace brought about by tech startups have now embraced technical solutions and improved efficiency. With this said, the developments behind legal tech have been different in application across regions. The US marks the home to most of the legal tech startup industry for decades. Despite the profession still being conservative in itself, US law firms are embracing disruptive innovation and employing technology to meet growing demands. To keep up, Europe has made great strides in progressing its technological developments and offers one of the most advanced legal tech industries in the world. Israel makes a notable contribution to this. The country is quickly establishing its ability to dominate many high-tech fields in only the last few years. It intends to keep up with the rest of the world but faces severe challenges. Many legal professionals in Israel are reluctant to adopt new technologies. This is a common obstacle shared by the legal tech industry in the UK.



Is France driving legal tech forward at the UK’s expense?


France is also a key player. Though far from achieving the levels of development in the US, the French legal tech market has experienced significant growth in recent years. France has managed to deliver an exceptional increase in interest from investors with a new record of €52.1m raised in 2019. Why has progress in the legal tech industry surged in the region? Unlike Israel and the UK, where startups struggle to change the conventional operations favoured by legal professionals, french lawyers have reacted by driving forward the global push towards the digitisation of their industry. Despite adopting a reluctant approach during the earlier stages of legal tech integration, their legal professionals have now widely acknowledged the importance of new technologies. The future of innovation looks positive for France as they continue to react to change effectively and take steps to reshape their sector, driving forward business efficiency and productivity as core values.



Is the UK doing enough to keep up?


Research by Intapp has submitted that not enough UK Law firms are deploying new technologies. The report found that fewer than 50% of law firms in the UK were using automation tools. Moreover, according to the data from the 2018 Sharplegal Report released by Acritas, American legal departments are more likely to use new legal technologies. The report further outlines that 25% of UK legal departments are not using any technology, as compared to 11% in the US. Further, new research from Dell Technologies has also discovered that businesses in the UK are generally trailing behind 12 other global countries. The UK legal department has always resisted innovation, and this is especially visible when we make comparisons on a worldwide scale. Has the UK fallen behind?


Despite the alarming reports, there is cause for hope. In 2018, British law firms doubled their investment in digital solutions. Investment into UK law tech startups also increased, from £2.5 million in 2016 to £62 million for the first three-quarters of 2019. Various magic circle firms have all launched their own in-house innovation development hubs, and others have established incubators to invest in the next generation of law tech businesses. So what more needs to be done? It is vital to encourage the complete overhaul of the sector’s traditional operations. Also, legal tech is currently focussed on delivering services that solve specific legal issues, and it is challenging to deploy these within corporations on a larger scale. The legal sector must commence a change in approach by taking greater steps in investigating the capability of technology to solve more significant challenges such as legal automation. Law firms should also facilitate this as they continue to invest in legal software and innovation departments.



Legal tech education


There has generally been a theme in the UK that there isn’t enough legal tech education to facilitate the widespread use of new technologies, and that law schools need to do more to stay ahead of the curve. The Law Society has found in a study that young lawyers are amongst the most technophobic of legal professionals. Statistics suggest that some 50% of junior lawyers are not aware of legal tech at all. Although most junior lawyers embrace the potential benefits of technology, not enough is being done to fill the skills gap. 


The US has undoubtedly benefited from nurturing legal tech education. In 2012, the American Bar Association made significant changes to the Mode Rules of Professional Conduct, placing a duty on lawyers to be competent not only when practising law but also in understanding the application of technology. Further, North Carolina is the second state to mandate continuing education and training in technology. This, alongside the 21 educational establishments that are teaching legal tech courses, indicates where the priorities lie within the US judicial system. 


Similar developments have taken place in Australia. The Law Faculty at the University of Technology in Sydney have launched a Bachelor of Laws degree in Legal Futures and Technology to prepare graduates for careers that will require familiarity with innovation and emerging disruptive technologies. Does the UK meet legal tech education needs? The University of Law has provided a host of new courses in legal technology, and some universities have got to terms with the new approach that the legal training needs to be a step ahead to meet new technologies disrupting the delivery of legal services. This suggests that although the legal education market in the UK has been slow to adjust to the demand, it is picking up with institutions paving the way for systematic change across the board. But is it enough? Technical solutions are fast approaching in light of recent changes brought about by the pandemic and recent developments. Unless the UK takes more meaningful steps in prioritising legal tech education, we will surely see a skills gap in the coming years. 



Many law graduates in the UK are not just ill-prepared for legal work as it is today, but are very ill-prepared for how it will be tomorrow.


Professor Richard Susskind, IT adviser to the Lord Chancellor



Where do we go from here?


Technology has the potential to transform the legal order. The tides are turning at different speeds worldwide as each country seems to support varying degrees of acceptance toward innovation and its practice within the legal sector. As the legal tech community expands, regions are likely to learn from each other. We are likely to see momentous progress in the coming years, in light of the recent developments in technology and the wake-up call instigated by Covid-19. Technical solutions that can reshape the law are already here, and lawyers around the world have started to embrace the disruption to the industry by introducing heavier tech competence into legal practice. To avoid falling behind, it is vital to react to technological disruptions appropriately and to implement more considerable resources to the overall application and education of legal tech.


Why not read our ‘The need for speed’ article on Legal Futures? Click HERE to read the full text.

Cloud cyber security

Cyber security threats: can we trust cloud-based legal tech?

For any forward-thinking lawyer, the benefits of legal technology (or ‘lawtech’) are hard to ignore. In areas such as case management, research, communications and more, tech is helping to boost productivity, drive efficiency and, most important of all, deliver better outcomes for clients.

For many of the new legal tech tools out there, that phrase ‘cloud-based’ is often listed as a selling point. The last thing any lawyer needs is to be hit by a security breach. And the implication sometimes seems to be because a solution is based in the cloud, somehow cyber security becomes “one less thing to worry about”.

In reality, cloud-based legal tech offers many benefits — but what it doesn’t do is make your cyber security responsibilities disappear. Here’s a closer look at the cloud in a legal business context, its implications for cyber security, and at how to keep your data safe.


The cloud for law firms: what are we talking about?

Let’s take case management software as an example. The typical case management product provides a single location for managing your files, generating documents, automating key tasks and keeping your workflow on track. All in all, it’s a pretty powerful piece of tech.

A decade or two ago, if a firm or chambers wanted access to this type of tool, it would have to purchase it outright, along with licences for individual users: a potentially large investment. The cloud-based model gives businesses an alternative way to access their tech. Instead of it being installed and located on their in-house computer servers, the software is hosted by either the software provider or a third party. Businesses access the software over the internet.

In addition to accessing software, the cloud also offers an alternative method for storing digital data. With cloud storage, instead of uploading information onto your firm’s own servers, that data is uploaded over the internet to the provider’s remotely located servers.

For lawyers, cost and convenience are probably the two biggest advantages of the cloud. Often referred to as ‘software-as-a-service’ (SAAS), you can pay for access on a monthly or annual basis, and add or remove users at relatively low cost.

So is the cloud inherently safer or less safe than traditional means of software access and data storage? Here’s a closer look at the cyber threat landscape — and at how the cloud fits into it.


Cyber security threats to law firms

cyber-security-threatsWith so much sensitive client information up for grabs, a typical law firm can provide rich pickings for cyber criminals — according to a Law Society Report in June 2019, 55% of British firms had experienced a cyber-attack in the previous 12 months.(1)

Cloud computing is sometimes billed as a way to help firms become less susceptible to security breaches. On the data storage front, the argument is that if your data is stored and backed up remotely, you will always be able to access it in the event that your in-house servers are attacked. In the case of software, updates and bug fixes tend to be handled by the software supplier, helping to keep you shielded from the type of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.

The reality is more complex. For a start, cloud-based computing basically introduces a “middle-man” into your data supply chain (i.e. a software and/or storage provider). In its report into the cyber threat and the UK legal sector, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) specifically cited ‘supply chain compromise’ as one of the most significant threats facing firms.2 There are two important takeaways from this:

Service providers themselves are susceptible to cyber-attack. According to NCSC, supply chain compromises have increased significantly recently, having risen by 200% in 2017.(2)

Ultimately, data in the cloud remains your responsibility. If client data is compromised, attempts to shift the blame to your cloud supplier will probably hold little sway in the eyes of your professional regulator, the data regulator – and most importantly, your client. This is especially the case if you have done little or nothing to exercise oversight over those cloud suppliers.


Cloud suppliers: how lawyers can make the right choices

The deadline for filing a statement on behalf of one of your clients is tomorrow. You attempt to log onto your cloud-based case management platform only to discover it is inaccessible. The supplier’s platform has been hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack: basically a malicious barrage of traffic designed to disable it. The longer it takes to get back online, the greater the chances of missing the deadline.

Reliable backup and resilience against this type of attack is a must. When you research cloud providers, always look carefully at their reputation, along with their track record at guaranteeing continuity of service. For instance, a 99.9% uptime record is acceptable, whereas a 95% record is not. To help you make the right choices, it’s worth taking a look at NCSC’s guidance on cloud-enabled products as well as The Law Society’s cloud guide.(3,4)


Focus on GDPR-compliant products

In force since 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets out the current framework for ensuring personal data security and privacy. To avoid sleepwalking into non-compliance (along with potentially hefty fines), you need to ensure that appropriate levels of security are in place to protect data against cyber-attacks and manage security risks. This includes looking closely at potential cloud service providers’ own procedures. Only select providers with a clear GDPR policy in place demonstrating compliance.


The flipside of accessing data from anywhere

One of the cloud’s big selling points is that so long as they have internet access, your people can log into your business systems from virtually anywhere, on any device. While this is good news if you want to encourage flexible and remote working, it can also trigger additional security issues.

In addition to supply chain compromise, the other major legal sector security issues flagged up by NCSC included targeted scams (phishing) and downloading infected material (malware). With each of these, the criminals behind them rely on the lawyer at the other end either clicking on something they shouldn’t or being duped into handing over information, such as a system log-in.

Security-conscious firms usually address this threat through a combination of technical measures such as email filters and anti-virus blockers. They also have robust rules in place, telling staff how to behave online. Just be aware that if you are using cloud software to facilitate remote working, make sure you update your policies and technical controls so that connected devices are secure — and your people know what’s expected of them.


What next?

When it comes to software and storage, it’s never a case of “cloud deployment, good; On-site deployment, bad” (or vice versa). Instead, tech tools should be considered on their own merits — and in particular, their ability to solve specific business problems. There won’t always be a clear business case for deployment through the cloud; but if there is, it’s then a case of looking carefully at any associated security risks and making sure that those risks are adequately addressed.

For further advice on the risks currently encountered in the legal sector, along with hints and tips on improving your business processes, be sure to explore our Insights Hub.



  1. (2019). The three biggest cyber threats facing law firms - The Law Society. [online] Available at: 
  2. (2018). 'The cyber threat to UK legal sector' 2018 report. [online] Available at: 
  3. (2017). Managing the risk of cloud-enabled products. [online] Available at: 
  4. (n.d.). Cloud computing - The Law Society. [online] Available at: