IT & the Lawyer

Dennis Kennedy predicts

Big picture trends
Dennis starts by predicting that the prospects for legal technology in 2005 will be better than ever before because of broadband Internet access, big horse power processors, cheap memory and even cheaper mass storage. In short, the solo and small firm lawyer will be able to effect dramatic improvements in his firm at a surprisingly small cost.

Looking at big picture trends, he notes that performance in hardware is improving by orders of magnitude. Many business practices found in other industries will percolate into law firms. Third party providers, services and consultants will also have a bigger role to play, while e-discovery will explode.

Security still matters though, what with viruses and similar dangers, while clients will want to see more and get frustrated by backward legal technology and billing practices. Hosting, document assembly, voice recognition, extranets and deal rooms - ideas that have not quite taken off will start doing so this year, while the Internet will quietly consolidate its role and importance in facilitating online collaboration and generating information.

Digital magic will continue to shine as e-discovery helps lawyers use electronic evidence. Tech savvy lawyers will increasingly demand the tools they want and need and not be persuaded by the priorities of their staffs and IT departments.

Specific rapid-fire predictions
Spam, viruses, and a disregard for basic security practices by law firms will continue to dog attorneys.

Upgrades and updates to existing software as a result of security risks and client complaints will happen, as will as some movement away from Microsoft. Practice specific programmes will surprise lawyers while programmes such as Adobe 6, anti virus protection, firewalls and back ups will become essential for every law office.

Third party services
Dennis foresees the Application Service Provider (ASP) model returning, offering good results for firms. Law firms will realise that their core business (doing law) needs to be focused upon, so non core functions such as security, network maintenance and web hosting will be turned over to third parties.

Client driven technology
Clients and businesses using the Internet as a "self-serve" source of information will choose lawyers based on what they read on the Internet. But they will start to demand technologies that give them the information that affects them personally. Lawyers will have to ask them what they want.

At the lawyers fingertips
Search tools such as Google Desktop Search and Copernic Desktop Search as well as case management and document management tools will continue to be a priority. As in the past, time management will be crucial and case management software will place greater emphasis on such features.

From hardware to software to services, lawyers will have, and will take advantage of, affordable opportunities to put some colour into their practices, restoring both their clients' and their own interest in and enthusiasm for the legal process.

Full article in Law Practice

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