In 2012 KPMG produced a report on the role of general counsel.

The 58-page document used the fitting analogy that the role is a ‘barometer’ for the business: ‘many corporate problems are likely to touch the GC’s desk, enough perhaps for the GC to have a strong sense of the current ‘weather’ conditions facing the business’.

In simple terms: GCs—and I'd say in-house lawyers generally—are legal 'weather' forecasters.

But, of course, forecasting isn’t easy.

The first weather forecast was by Admiral Robert FitzRoy in 1860. Before then, it was said that a frog in a jar could detect a coming storm. At that time, the loss of life around the UK’s seas was appalling. In just five years between 1855 and 1860, over seven thousand ships were wrecked off the coasts. 

The upshot? Weather lore wasn’t working.

Since FitzRoy's time weather forecasting has been transformed. It is now big business. According to a US National Weather Service study in 2017, private weather forecasting is worth $7 billion and counting.

So what's this got to do with lawyers and legal tech?

Weather forecasting has moved from simple ranine* folklore to supercomputers capable of crunching 14 thousand trillion arithmetic operations per second, such as the Met Office’s Cray XC40 computer.

The time has come for in-house lawyers to see a similar data-driven transformation.

Just as no one could have imagined a data-rich world of forecasting before the time of the first weather forecast, it is difficult to imagine how much in-house lawyers' lives will change over the next few years with the new legal tech at their disposal.

As the Law Society says in its Lawtech Adoption Report, 'lawtech adoption will have significant implications for the future of the law and legal profession with new skills, new delivery models and a new competitive environment'.

But this can all sound a tad daunting.

My colleague Tony Randle and I recently filmed a LexisNexis webinar on legal tech: Using technology to demonstrate your value in the business to help you navigate this tricky area. We investigate the types of tech available, do a bit of myth-busting, look into a few successful case studies, and round the webinar off with handy tips on how to get this new tech right so you can understand the 'weather' that your business faces.

To watch the webinar, click here (£) (although please bear in mind that the webinar isn't available until 9 March 2020). If you can, do watch! And as always please do get in touch with your thoughts.

* I admit, I had to look this frog-related adjective up. Good one to know for a pub quiz?