The Current State of Big Firm Legal Tech – Law.com

Law.com unveiled today a trio of important articles on its annual survey of legal technology in the larget firms in the US. All are definitely worth study by those interested in legal technology. As always, I have concerns about drawing too many conclusions based on self-reported answers, but these stats are about as good as it gets and they are worth studying for evaluating trends.
One general comment before touching on the three pieces: if you look at the litigation technology list for a firm that claims to be a major litigation firm and it does not list CaseMap, you really need to question its sophistication in its approach to the technology of litigation.
The first article by Amy Vincent is called The Client Comes First and attempts to draw some conclusions about key trends in legal technology. It’s a solid piece and, since I’ve been preaching about client-driven technology for a while now, it should be no surprise that I agree with the sentiments expressed in the title.
I believe, however, that those not in the legal profession will be surprised at how extranets are still treated as a novel technology. I think that a close reading of the article also shows that technology decisions in law firms are still being made for the convenience of IT departments rather than practicing lawyers. This issue is an important one and will continue to contribute to the decisions of large firm lawyers to leave and start solo or small practices and the heavy attrition of young lawyers.
Finally, there’s an amazing story about a Microsoft rep who couldn’t justify to a firm why they might move from Word 2000 to Word XP. Just a thought: how about the raft of legal-specific features developed with the assistance of a legal advisory board? On the other hand, I forgot that those features benefit individual lawyers, not IT departments, and may be a hard sell.
The second article is the 8th Annual AmLaw Tech Survey itself. As always, this survey is a highly valuable resource. I recommend that anyone interested in legal tech, especially software vendors, study these results.
One question: how many of these firms who are still running Word 97 think that their clients will be impressed by that fact? I’m sure it’s a great recruiting and associate retention tool as well.
The third article is called The Basics and gives the raw data on questions and answers.
Again, the value of this material is really in helping spot trends. One interesting point: over 1/3 of the top firms in the country have not done a security audit in the last year. That might be a reason the Blaster family of worms hit large law firms pretty hard recently.