Today, a look at the state of the once and future legal tech customer. This follows yesterday’s survey of the overall landscape of legal technology.
I know a number of people in the technology space. Entrepreneurs, developers, sales and service people. Some have targeted corporate America generally and then moved to the legal market specifically. Most tell me there is no harder market to crack.
There are a number of reasons for this; they will have to wait for another day. The biggest problem I hear about is the shifting roles between IT and the true customer (law firm attorneys or in-house counsel).
The IT people ask all departments what they need in the next year. The lawyers tell IT what they want (specific product or general category). Then the fun starts. IT correctly looks at security, compatibility, efficacy and cost. The lawyers get impatient, and maybe invoke the name of Client X who does Y amount of business and needs Z technology ASAP.
And when something is finally agreed to and eventually rolled out, either there is no training at all or no real time for it. The lawyers get frustrated, and the IT help desk fields the calls, logs the issues, and then hangs up and mutters “RTFM.”
These difficulties are one of the reasons why Microsoft and Research in Motion (BlackBerry) have been so successful. Once you are in the door, you don’t have to re-sell as much as you re-up. And if you can use MS Word, then Excel can’t be too hard. If you trade in one BlackBerry for the next one, it’s relatively painless. This is also why some in the legal tech space may prefer to buy than make (companies instead of products). Thomson Reuters and Serengeti come to mind.
It also illustrates why it is so difficult for new legal tech companies to make a name, a product, and even a sale. It’s really hard to get on the radar, let alone in the door. No one ever got fired for buying IBM (or hiring Cravath).
There are reasons to keep looking, however. Some newer products on the horizon will be worth a hard look.
Tomorrow, I will outline three characteristics of better legal technology in the coming years. Sort of a cheat-sheet for the tech challenged (which is just about all of us).