Dennis Kennedy at Between Lawyers was kind enough to write about a prior post here on law firms and the appropriate use of client-centered technology. Check out Dennis’ post and definitely accept his invitation to comment.
To elaborate just a bit, technology often seems driven by what is possible or profitable. People who design it want to be on the bleeding edge (because that’s what’s fun to work on). People who sell it want a lot of features to justify a higher price (which helps them meet their numbers). CFOs who track all this want ongoing training and upgrades (which means recurring revenues).
When we narrow the focus on legal technology and new services, two more hurdles appear: lawyers who can be genetically resistant to change; and an hourly pricing model that isn’t suited to how technology is usually sold. The first hurdle also is present in the corporate law department environment–we share the same DNA.
A better starting point might be to ask clients what they need. Two things you might hear are lowering costs and increasing effectiveness. New legal technology or service models that embrace both will win out over the long run.
This is a safe prediction because:
(a) it is already happening, as noted in my first post, and
(b) I know of projects that are unannounced but underway which will make this happen.
Step back from the law and look at this week’s news. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the iPod nano. As impressive as the technology is, what is more amazing to me is that he was killing off the most popular mp3 player in the world–the iPod mini.
Mr. Jobs understands that you can’t improve by maintaining the status quo–even when you are #1.
The pace of change with legal technology and services right now is barely glacial. Unfortunately, by the time many law firms get religion on innovating, others will already occupy that priority position in the mind of the client. By the time some corporate GCs do the same, they may find someone else occupying their chair in the corner office.