I saw this late last night, a post by Ron over at Strategic Legal Technology in response to a LexisNexis survey:
Inside Counsel (April 2008) reports on a LexisNexis survey on information overload by professionals: ?77% of legal professionals? cite a clack of sufficient information technology tools to cope with the ever-increasing information burden.”
Law firms and legal market vendors undoubtedly can do better in creating, deploying, and training on tools. But it irks me to see surveys point fingers at IT professionals. I?ve run IT at a law firm and hosted widely publicized internal seminars to create awareness of or training on new tools. Often, literally not a single lawyer shows up. And many lawyers who complain have almost no patience to learn new software or new features. So many lawyers have only themselves to blame.
Now, of course, as an IT guy, I completely agree with Ron. There are much better ways to cope with information that many people, not just lawyers, simply don’t take the time to learn. RSS is a great example of this, I would tell you that the number of percentage of people I know using RSS readers is probably in the single digits, and I know a lot of people who work in tech and blog, so I’m betting my experience is on the higher end compared to most. Instead, most people are still hitting websites every day looking for the latest news items, or worse, subscribing to dozens and dozens of email newsletters that they just let sit in their inbox along with hundreds of other emails, never to be read.
There are better ways to handle information, but you have to learn to use the tools, and adapt them to whatever suits your style best.
That being said, now that I work in Litigation Support, I find myself more frequently in a different role. Instead of supporting the tools we roll out for other people to use, some of my time is now spent using those tools to get certain things done. Sometimes, the tools I have, as many and varied as they are, simply aren’t that good.
Lately, I’ve found myself longing for a different tool than what I have because I’ve needed to cross-reference financial information by querying across numerous spreadsheets, which isn’t difficult to do if I bring those sheets into Access, but then I have to export the results of my query back out in order to use formulas to get my bottom-line numbers. It’s frustrating that the tools I have limit me like this, but I also know I can’t really expect to have an unlimited budget for tools, so I deal with it. I make do because I have to. (This is lesson #1 for those of you who want to work in Lit Support, learn how to make do however you can to get things done!)
On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what Ron was talking about. I probably could do this easier if I knew VB or something, but I don’t, and I don’t really have time to learn it on the fly either. Hmm….
How do you resolve the competing need to bill hours, or get work done in any organization, versus spending the time to learn the tech tools that can help you do that work? There are no easy answers, that’s for sure.