I practiced law for some years and did not own a tablet or a smart phone. I was intrigued when someone plopped a Mac on my desk and said, figure out how to use it. It’s main function? To help us get rid of our “word processing center”. Remember those?
Well, times have changed. After desktops came mobile phones. So now my clients could call me from their cars. Great idea, until we realized that just about anyone and his uncle could listen in. And when the chat got intense, it was fender bender time.
But there were things coming down the road that tech could offer major help for. Calendering, time management and knowledge management in general. And I think we are still developing good tech systems for these tasks. So does a smart watch fit into this? At least one lawyer thinks so. I have my doubts.
Back in the old days, CRM (client relations management) meant rolodex management perhaps a newsletter and seminars on law changes. Well this has changed. CRM systems are evolving rather quickly. How about law firm adaption? Lexus Nexus has done an interesting study. No surprise here. Law firms report strong interest but mixed results. The main issue appears to be getting “buy in”.
Most firms long ago developed systems for managing their knowledge. That is one of the things that made them firms, rather than just collections of individual practitioners. This used to be found in huge paper files with indexes.And I have had fun working with these, monsters years ago.
Digital technology created the opportunity to move this stuff into data bases. And it created a more complex knowledge management challenge. Firms with systems that more efficiently share critical data, ideas and strategies within and among practice areas have a competitive advantage.
So — who is in charge of this? Is it marketing driven or a back room toolkit? At best, it is the result of an ongoing collaboration that helps sell the firm as well as upgrade services. Where to get started? You might check out this video from Slaw. One aspect of the video is of strategic interest – will this help smaller firms that can more easily develop the best systems? I think so. Big firms have a head start, but they face bigger challenges in sharing knowledge internally. Still, getting smaller firms up to that high “KM” level will require a lot of work over time.
American lawyers sometimes forget that European and American law on data protection and privacy are not the same. Google found out the hard way in a recent ECJ judgment where the European high court found that people have a right to have certain links about them removed. Google is developing a system to comply, but there is a lot of discussion about this right. But at the end of the day, do you own your data? As cloud based services develop, data sharing can get a bit tricky. And lawyers will need to offer advice that balances business needs and privacy rights — on a global basis.
Airbnb is a disruptive service. For lawyers, that means it did not sort out the legality of what it does before it started to do it. Ooops. But a funny thing has happened. Airbnb has become mainstream. So it faces a steady stream of legal issues around the globe. A new category of tech global business modeling – barely legal?