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Changing Focus of Legal IT

I was reminded of something I was thinking after that Jeffrey Ritter webinar last week this morning when I stumbled across this post by Jason Plant, Generation Y trainees about to shake up Legal and Legal IT. Specifically it was this quote from Jason that I found interesting.

The struggle of getting the old lawyers to use computers is going to change rapidly into a demand from new lawyers to use the latest computers and software. This I’m sure is starting to happen already, but it will only increase.

What it reminded me of was something that Jeffrey said in response to a question about whether all law firms should be using document review platforms to store and review ediscovery that is received from a client. He went one further, suggesting that any lawyer who doesn’t use Litigation Support tools to handle electronic data more efficiently should probably go ahead and just get out of the Litigation field. There’s no future in it for them.

When I heard him say that, it immediately rang true for me. When I saw Jason’s post, the same thing happened. Lawyers who refuse to learn to use technology have no future, and IT departments who continue to work to try and convince those lawyers to just to use Word, are missing out on opportunities to engage, and provide better tools for, the lawyers who actually have a future.

Now, I’m not saying those older lawyers who simply refuse to use technology are bad lawyers, but I have a hard time imagining that they have much more than a 5 year shelf life, if that. Seriously, I work with ediscovery for a living, and I can’t even imagine any client sticking with an attorney who simply refuses to acknowledge ESI, or if they are forced to acknowledge it, wants it all printed or has no capacity to review documents in more than a page-by-page manner. It simply isn’t efficient. Clients won’t pay for that level of inefficiency, and courts will have no patience for that at all. What kind of practice is this type of lawyer going to have if they haven’t learned how to leverage technology to be more effective by now?

Legal IT, and heck even Litigation Support departments, would be better off engaging the attorneys who do get technology, and who are looking for tools to help them be more effective lawyers. We’ve spent enough time trying to convince those old school lawyers who don’t want the world to change. Let them float along until retirement, or move into something else, because they simply won’t be the lawyers that provide the future client revenue that a firm is going to need. The ones who can provide that client service, and revenue, need more effective tools. This is where the future of law, and of our own career within the industry, lies.

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