Legal futurist Richard Susskind has offered four ideas as to what may be in store for law firm technology. The list, courtesy of Chris Dale, is located here. (Thanks to Ron Friedmann for the pointer).
The first three include more use of mobile tech (like iPads), moving legal data to the cloud, and outsourcing of firm IT functions.
I agree with mobile tech (it was my bonus #11 for 2011 here), and I think the cloud is inevitable for most data. Outsourcing of law firm IT is certainly wise for many firms, some of which have a rather tunnel-view of what tech could be and should be. I think this will be big, and could be behind the Thomson Reuters acquisition of Pangea3 (which is not about becoming a law firm).
The perceptive Mr. Susskind then offers number four:
4. There will be an uptake in the use of social media as firms make use of LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter for legal purposes, as many companies â€“ the clients â€“ are already doing, to tell the world what they are doing, planning or thinking. This is so predictable a development that firms must get policies in place in anticipation of it. Without them they will either get left behind by more adventurous firms or will embark on the use of social media without thinking through either the risks or social mediaâ€™s place in their wider public-facing plans.
It’s hard to talk about social media options in a group. Of the three Mr. Susskind mentions, I think LinkedIn is probably used more by larger-entity lawyers and Twitter can be a helpful tool if used correctly.
Facebook for lawyers? I don’t see it right now, as its privacy settings and data policies are confusing to tech gurus, let alone your average lawyer. People have to remember: when a web app is free, you are the product (for advertisers, most likely).
A related but more focused option is Legal OnRamp (a walled garden with more control over who is in and what is going on). A recent video update on Legal OnRamp is available here (from LegalMinds TV).
It will be up to clients to demand more appropriate technology, but only if it speeds up results and lowers costs in the process. Another factor is my #10 for 2011 “What about Time?”
Most lawyers can barely plow through the day’s email before midnight. Adding another online demon to check in with, like, friend, or whatever is like a “poke.” In the eye.