Tom Koulopoulus was the Monday morning keynote at ILTA09, and his message was one of innovation, and value. My quick take away was that for law firms, and for those of us who are looking to make some changes in that environment, the only way to do it is to prove the value. With the economy the way it is, everything has become about value. You maybe lost your job if you didn’t bring enough value to the firm, or at least you certainly feel a whole lot safer if you have areas where you can easily identify the value you bring. Any money spent on training, or technology improvements have to show value, or be threatened by tighter budgets, and surely any adoption of new Web 2.0 technologies have to bring their own value to the table.
Unfortunately, most of us who work in an area as risk-adverse as law firms are trained to think first of the risks, and defend the risks when trying to introduce change. Perhaps we’d be better off focusing on the value added through the use of social networking, for example, and once we’ve proven that through our own examples of using these tools. After all, how much easier is it to defend against the risk when we’re all already on the same page in terms of whether there’s enough value to use the tools at our disposal?
Think of it in terms of email, surely we are all familiar with the risks that were associated with everyone in the firm having email. Eventually, though, the value proved to be so overwhelming that we accepted the risks and figured out how to deal with them. Social Networking and other Web 2.0 technologies haven’t quite reached that point, but I believe they will. There’s simply too much value in connecting to peers and sharing knowledge with as many people as possible, no matter the medium. We just need to share the value we’ve found with those who haven’t.