(Part 1 of a 5-part Series) (Explanation of series)
Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007 – Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice
Lawyers and law firms have an uneasy relationship with technology. Never known as “early adopters,” lawyers approach technology with wariness and often see technology as a necessary evil. There is, however, a general consensus that, good or evil, technology is a necessity in the modern practice of law.
William Gibson has famously said, “The future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” In the practice of law, the future is starting to arrive, but it’s definitely not evenly distributed. The variations in use of technology from lawyer to lawyer and from firm to firm will astound even the casual observer.
What, then, should we expect to see in the use of technology in the practice of law in 2007? In this article, I explore the seven top trends I see in legal technology for 2007.
2007: An Overview.
As an overview, my sense is that 2007 will be another year of a technology lull, in some ways much like 2006, with much less visible movement in legal technology than you might expect, but potentially large structural changes happening under the surface.
Conditions are ripe for a slow-down. With new versions of both Microsoft Office and Windows arriving, there is a general wait-and-see attitude, especially because Windows Vista will require new hardware purchases in most cases. It is rare to see an article on Vista that does not advocate waiting until the release of service pack 1. I tend to be a little bolder – I know that Microsoft employees have been using Vista internally for a long time. Electronic discovery exerts both a push and a pull on technology for law firms. Yes, it is a driver, but with consolidations among vendors, unresolved questions, and a confusing tools market, choices in this category are difficult.
It will be easy, and, in some cases, prudent for law firms to move slowly and cautiously. At the same time, however, some law firms and legal departments will be taking advantage of great new technology opportunities to modernize the practice of law, improve client service, and move toward something that I and others have called “Law 2.0.” As a result, they will creative a competitive and technological gap between themselves and most other lawyers, firms and law departments. By the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward firms. It will happen slowly, barely perceptibly in some cases, but we will see evidence of that growing evidence of that gap as the year ends.
In general, lawyers and law firms will do well to use this general “lull” in 2007 to plan, to make good business decision about what they have and how to move forward, and prepare to move forward at the time of their own choosing. The legal technology landscape is becoming much more complicated than it’s ever been.
Seven Trends for 2007.
If that is the big picture, then what specific trends must lawyers watch in 2007? I suggest that the following seven trends should be on your radar screen, and the agendas of your technology committee.
(To be continued in Part 2)
I invite your comments and feedback on this article-in-progress.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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