Our colleague Kevin Goosman’s article on Law Firm IT spend https://baskervilledrummond.com/law-firm-it-spend-getting-it-right/ was most timely, with a new budgeting cycle approaching. Getting the most out of your budget and controlling costs is fundamental, but given increasing pressure from your clients – and from partners alerted to the potential of “innovation” to use technology to enhance legal services or reduce the costs of delivering legal services – getting the basics right may not be enough.
Most full-service law firms face the major challenge of having to reconcile the differing IT system requirements of their various practice areas with the limited resources – both IT and financial – available to the firm.
On the other hand, niche firms specialising in one area of law or one sector, have the advantage of concentrating on technology which specifically services their sector. In the case of residential conveyancing, PI, probate, family law or debt collections there are well established specialist solutions on the market.
These solutions have been designed to deliver one specific legal service and aim to enable firms to use them with minimal customisation.
However, other legal services are not well serviced by vendors, and firms (both niche and full-service) therefore rely on a more traditional approach of bespoke development or customising more generic solutions to match the requirements of their specific practice area or areas
O! it is pleasant with a heart at ease,
Just after sunset, or by moonlight skies,
To make the shifting clouds be what you please (…with thanks to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
As we sweltered and gasped through one of the hottest summers in memory, it would have required considerable effort to pay attention to the cloudscape. Now, with the August Bank Holiday safely behind us, it is more appropriate to take a detour into the cloud landscape – this time, in its SaaS, or software as a service manifestations. Hopefully well rested and with a “heart at ease”.
Previously we focused attention on “Private Cloud” and “IaaS” (Infrastructure as a Service) and its offspring but before we follow IaaS towards the logical conclusion of its development, it would be useful to investigate the concept of SaaS – Software as a Service – which has a lot in common with, and sits alongside both IaaS and “Public Cloud”
As we trot, canter and then hopefully gallop through all the “Cloud” buzzwords, we will try to provide some context for their logical progression, and then the why’s and how’s of their evolution (yes, Darwin’s law applies to technology as well!)
Last time, we focused our attention on the “Private Cloud” – the mother of all Cloud Buzzwords. Her direct offspring are the variants of “Infrastructure as a Service” or IaaS
My concern about the scarcity of Women in Tech – particularly in Legal IT – goes back many years. Not only am I an unapologetic feminist of the old school (i.e I love the male of the species, I have many feminine interests but I believe women should play a full and equal role in society), but effective technology critically depends on team work. An increasing flood of research – and my own observations over many years – clearly demonstrate that gender and ethnically diverse teams significantly out-perform (up to 87%) teams not so constituted.
Our first attempts to encourage women into Legal Tech some 8 years ago came to nothing. The senior women (IT Directors and Heads of IT) were far too busy with the day-job, and lacked the administrative resources to be effective. But the idea stuck, and germinated, even while at the same time, our numbers went down. Some women moved on into other industries, others retired and increasingly, it became hard to recruit female candidates, particularly younger women for number 2 roles (so that they can take up the baton from us, when we moved on). The stats are startling. In our heyday some 10 years ago, 23% of the IT Directors/ Heads of IT in the top 100 law firms were female. Today it is less than 3%.
Every couple of years and applying Moore’s Law, with increasing frequency one of the giants of the tech industry (or their marketing teams) come up with a sexy sounding buzzword or acronym. Very quickly, the latest buzzword will then burn a blazing trail through the tech media, the general press and everyone and their parrot. Before you can say “buzz”, the buzzword is being used without anyone outside a limited circle having the foggiest idea of what it actually means (and feeling slightly embarrassed because everyone else seems to know). A classic case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Examples are “cloud”, “AI”, “flexible/agile/smart” working, “digital transformation”, “digital disruption” and heaven help us, “innovation”. Fuzzy terms, unless we stop to define what we actually mean. As importantly, what it means for us, our sector (law firms and law firm technology) and our own practices.
HEALTH WARNING – anyone with a technology background: read-on at your own peril but you are not allowed to sneer at our simplistic take on the impenetrable acronyms and fuzzy concepts and jargon that all technologists thrive on.
We attended – and facilitated – at a most informative Legal Practice Management (LPM) event yesterday, where Rupert Collins-White analysed the results of the 2018 Legal IT Landscapes, research aimed specifically at mid-sized law firms. More than 80 firms responded to the survey – the results are probably fairly representative of the market as a whole.
Interestingly enough, there were repeated mentions of, and considerable interest expressed in AI and the “hype” technologies, by far outranking mentions of more “old tech” systems, such as case management, practice management and document management. Most noticeable was the change of focus from the more boring aspects of tech, such as infrastructure and last year’s buzzword, “cloud” and a change of focus to the application layer particularly in areas where business processes can really benefit from technology.