At a recent press conference, Richard Susskind admonished those present for writing on paper, using pens. Maybe he had been hoping for a more visibly ‘techie’ backdrop for the launch of a Civil Justice Council report on online dispute resolution.

The reality is that lawyers are increasingly carrying a pen while thinking digitally. As set out in this week’s feature on ‘big data’, they will use technology to capture the vast amount of digital information generated by modern life, and algorithms to see patterns helpful to predicting the outcome of cases, advising clients and even drafting better legislation.

Big data remains more talked about than used in law, but its tangible application is becoming obvious. In-house lawyers charged with managing risk should welcome the ability to predict litigation outcomes, and the cost of e-discovery should come down. But this is not just a corporate story – as one US firm has shown, individual claimants can be assisted in judging the strength of a case they can ill afford to bring and lose.

Developments in big data are not about a brave new world in which pen-wielding lawyer-fogeys drown in the sea of electronic data. Instead, such lawyers can look forward to vast amounts of data presented as a manageable dashboard – there is to be an emphasis on clear visual representation.

We cannot even rule out the possibility that pen sales might actually rise.