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Chapter 5 - Management and Personnel Technology Considerations

Technology Implementation

Lawyers are in the information and knowledge business. As a lawyer, one must use available information sources, expertise, experience, and honed skills to translate this information into a quality work product. Providing this knowledge to your client in a timely fashion that fairly measures the values of the services to the client is very important.

CyberDavid Rocks Goliath

In the Bible, David took a major risk that would not have looked good in strategy meetings. A cybercorp newcomer needs less raw heroism than that exhibited by the biblical hero; it can use new ideas to exploit an old company’s weaknesses. It can use newer technology, virtual mechanisms, and electronic marketing. Because of its size, it can build a cozier relationship with customers. David can win in many corporate situations because Goliath is loaded down with baggage of an earlier era.

Old corporations often have old cultures, inappropriate to the mercurial cybercorp age. They have cumbersome structures and politics. Their computers are snarled up in spaghetti-like software that is murder to change. They pay lip service to reengineering themselves but make only mechanical changes within the present structure - when that structure ought to be scrapped.

Today’s technology makes possible virtual space and virtual operations. A small company does not need expensive offices; some employees can work at home. Key players may live in different cities but be linked electronically. A small company can be a virtual company.

- James Martin, The Wired Society

Technology is advancing and meeting the information and knowledge needs of the legal profession. Cellular and video phones, word processors, faxes, modems, wide and local area networks, notebook computers, the Internet and CD-ROM /DVD informational disks are but a few of those advancements. These technologies are not integrated into the legal practitioner’s practice by happenstance. It requires thoughtful planning and integration into a firm. The technology application process is not easy ? it must be learned, practiced, and upgraded. Think in terms of information technology tools and the people that can activate those tools for your cases. Think in terms of your client’s needs and how the application of technology can meet those needs. Every law firm must have a strategic plan and a structure to carry out this plan.

For solo practitioners, small firms, and large firms, the opportunities for automation are immense. Solos and small firms can effectively compete with larger firms using automation. The downside is that generally, they do not have the expertise to automate. It is essential that these lawyers remember that there are many resources to assist in the automation efforts. For example, the American Bar Association, and in particular the Law Practice Management Section, are publishing many technology books and newsletters written by lawyers and others explaining technology solutions. State and local bar associations are providing CLE and other training. Seek out friends and attorneys who are technology minded and share your vision of the future.

To successfully implement technology in the firm, you must strategically plan its integration. Strategic planning is never static  - it is always dynamic, changing and ongoing. The following are considerations and steps that you may want to incorporate into your implementation efforts.


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