By Dave Glynn
Who’s ready for what’s in store technologically in 2011? The answers speak for themselves in the 4th Annual eDiscovery and Technology Survey sponsored by Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Representing Illinois law firms, corporations and government entities, survey respondents indicated what products they have and what they plan to do with respect to eDiscovery and technology. Of the 114 respondents, 83 were lawyers. This article will report and interpret the technology related responses from the lawyers. In another article in this Legal Technology Update, eDiscovery expert, Tom O’Connor addresses and interprets the eDiscovery responses.
Hey You, Get Off of My Cloud
In the annual survey, most lawyers indicated that they are not yet ready to adopt cloud applications. Only 14% currently utilize cloud applications. Of them, 12% use cloud applications for case, document and docket management. A lesser percentage use cloud applications for eDiscovery and litigation support. Another 14% expect to migrate to some type of cloud application at some point. Lack of adoption can be attributed to lack of knowledge (18%), security issues (24%) and cost concerns (20%).
The conclusion we can draw is that lawyers are currently unfamiliar with cloud applications, but expect to learn more about them and adopt them in the future when security issues and cost concerns are overcome. Cloud applications can be especially attractive to solos and small firms because the cloud applications require less IT support and potentially less resources in the long term. Regardless, this cautious approach to new technology adoption is a historical characteristic of the legal profession that is slowly changing.
It’s important to note 37% of the ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) 2010 Survey respondents (IT specialists) indicated that they were not using cloud applications and of those that were, a very low percentage were using practice management applications, i.e. document, docket/diary, time & billing management in the cloud. Most of the heavy cloud application use pertained to email and web sites.
Lawyers and Practice Management
In the Law Bulletin annual survey, 31% of the respondents indicated that they use MS Outlook as their daily calendar. About 40% thought that having court docket and court call matching fed into their docket/diary program was important. Such matching is an integral feature of Law Bulletin’s DM2000 product. 31% highly value mobile connectivity to their docket/diary program.
Our findings were consistent with the ILTA 2010 Survey in which 20% of their respondents cited MS Outlook as their central calendar system. Leading docket management/diary systems, including DM2000, can be seamlessly integrated with the firm’s MS Outlook system.
Professional and Social Networking
50% of the lawyers surveyed have a LinkedIn profile; 25% have a profile on the Chicago Lawyer Network site; 14% have Martindale-Connected profiles; 13% are Leading Lawyers Network members; 31% have law firm Web sites. 40% of the respondents think it is important for search engines to pick up their Web sites. 24% think LinkedIn is the best site for lawyers and that it is the easiest to use. 16% think the bar association sites are the best and only one respondent thinks that Martindale-Connected is the best.
In summary, LinkedIn comes out on top for ease of use, usefulness and popularity. Given the current challenges in growing a business, it is not surprising that lawyers are looking to reach further and further beyond their legal networks to compete. Martindale-Connected ‘s perceived value continues to drastically decline. However, the Chicago Lawyer Network (Law Bulletin) showed a jump in popularity; it is a peer-to-peer site exclusively for lawyers. The increasing interest in local networks is related to the amount of turnover in law firms especially as a result of law firm downsizing, mergers and dissolutions.
On a social networking note, 34% of the respondents have Facebook pages, 12% Tweet, 8% have personal blogs, and 7% have personal Web pages. That tells me that we should have followed up with the question, “Do you use Facebook for professional or personal reasons?” My guess is that respondents would have responded they maintain a personal presence on Facebook and a professional presence on LinkedIn.
43% believe that these networking sites are a good referral source; 18% disagree. 53% agree that these sites are a good way to publicize their expertise. 43% think that professional networking sites are a good way to receive advice from experienced colleagues; approximately 17% don’t agree. 54% follow their colleagues’ professional careers on these sites. 40% think new friendships can be formed online; 23% don’t.
About half of the lawyers surveyed think that these sites are not only helpful for referrals and marketing but are also a good way to connect with colleagues. They also use the sites to follow their colleagues’ and we suspect – opponents’ careers. Now why would 23% think they can’t make friends online? Hmmmm. Wouldn’t you like to skip a couple of lunches or cocktail receptions to connect online instead? Have some more Netflix time?
Lawyers Gone Mobile
19% of the lawyers responded that their firm picked up the cost of their mobile device bill; 8% split the charges; and 40% pay for it themselves. 54% of the lawyers use their mobile devices either in or right outside the courtroom. 53% use their mobile device for email, 47% for texting, 34% read the news and 18% listen to music. Only 12% have an iPad and 12% have a Kindle. At 18%, Blackberry wins out as the most popular firm-provided device followed at 10% by the iPhone. Droids aren’t even on the map.
Technology Concerns for Lawyers
Cost jumped out at as the greatest technological concern for lawyers. Other concerns included obsolescence, storage and security. Keeping abreast of technology appears to be of larger concern as lawyers need to know not only how to use new products but how to do so in a way that makes them more time efficient and cost effective.
Where Does This Leave Us?
This year’s ABA TechShow offers a great opportunity to explore the latest vendor offerings. There are several new mobile apps available for lawyers, with more being developed daily. There is no doubt that vendors are incorporating cloud/software as a service (SasS) applications into legal technology. It’s up to lawyers to learn more about them and it’s up to legal publishers, like Law Bulletin, to provide that education. Clients expect lawyers to stay connected wherever they are at any particular time. There’s a reason why cloud practice management apps like Clio, LexisNexis Firm Manager and MyCase are gaining traction.
At a recent legal technology show, someone predicted that the iPad might become one of the most quickly adopted gadgets by lawyers. This rapid adoption stems from the fact that the iPad gives the lawyer the ability to use iApps that they can actually see. Now that I find it necessary to carry two-pair of glasses wherever I go, I understand.
Finally, professional and social networking sites are very successful communication tools. You would be remiss not to use them. So set up your profile on LinkedIn.com and the ChicagoLawyerNetwork.com. The set up is free and instantly gives you access to hundreds of Chicago lawyers in the CLN not to mention exposure through LinkedIn to thousands of potential clients.
About the author: Dave Glynn is a thought leader at Law Bulletin Publishing Company. He is responsible for directing research and product development. Dave is also the editor of LexTekReport.com, where this article can be found as a blog entry so you may forward it to a friend. Read more about legal technology at LexTekReport.com, the ChicagoLawBulletin.com and ChicagoLawyerMagazine.com.