LegalTech: Legal Technology – Good Trends, Bad Combinations and Ugly Results

I’ve been attending the LegalTech New York 2014 conference this week and had the opportunity to sit in on many interesting discussions. The Advanced IT track had a very engaging talk on Legal Technology – Good Trends, Bad Combinations and Ugly Results. It discussed the details of the ILTA 2013 Technology Survey (now available for free) which gives great insight into what’s being used (or not used) in law firms. This is great for law librarians, as well as students of law and anyone else in the field to know about.

The panel included Gina Buser, Principal & CEO at Traveling Coaches, Inc., Scott Christensen, Director of Information Services at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, and Jim McCue, Director of Information Systems at Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, P.A.

Good Trends

tablets_in_firms

The panel members talked about many trends that were seeing growth in recent years such as:

  • 64% of firms now work in a matter-centric interface vs. an app-centric desktop.
  • Mailbox size limits are up with 62% of firms offering greater than 2GB storage due to newer versions of MSExchange.
  • Security is getting better priority in today’s firms with 11% now using a next-generation endpoint security solution.
  • Only 5% of law firms aren’t using any type of virtual server technology.
  • VOIP technology is growing in firms with 56% of firms employing it as compared to only 41% in 2010.
  • The primary word processing software in law firms  is MS Word 2010.
  • Tablet devices are widely in use at law firms with 89% of firms using iPads and 39% using Android devices. Another 29% reported using Windows-based tablets.

The Bad

bad_trends

Unfortunately, law firms are still lagging behind in many ways from the business sector as a whole.  Panel members pointed out these discouraging statistics from last year’s report:

  • 61% of today’s law firms do not use any type of mobile device management (MDM) software even though smartphone and tablet use is widely in use by attorneys and other staff.
  • 70% of firms offer no integration of tablets or smartphones with their video-conferencing room equipment making it difficult to impossible to project anything attorneys bring with them on their devices.
  • 80% of firms offer no type of mobile time entry to their attorneys even though today’s lawyers are always on the go.

The Ugly

And some of the recent technology trends in firms were even more surprising, but not in a good way:

  • The biggest email support challenge remains mailbox size and managing large mailboxes according to 47% of firms.
  • 73% of firms have no “purge” policy when it comes to email.
  • 44% of law firms view the IT department as an expense.

Future Predictions

The panel shared their thoughts on where they think technology is headed in law firms down the road.  Here’s their forecast:

  • An increase in outsourcing of commodity services.
  • An increase in the use of enterprise social networking and collaborative software tools.
  • Growth in the use of  MDM (mobile device management) systems.
  • The use of the electronic matter file will increase.
  • Cloud computing use will increase especially amongst smaller firms.