Byline: Clive Taylor
Rather than being dragged kick-k ing and screaming into the technology age, most of the lawyers we work with have fully embraced the consumer technologies within their firm's IT infrastructure.
The 'consumerisation of IT' - as it has been much described - is now seen as a way to provide improved levels of client service - a key driving force in law firms. From business support staff to secretaries to fee-earners, the use of BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads is now part of the fabric of many law firms' daily operations.
There is a notion that it's the older, more traditional lawyers who refuse to progress or even accept technological advancements and that it's the younger generation of new lawyers coming through who are pushing for it, but in my experience, it's not so easily defined. With many of our clients, the change is being driven from the top - which must surely be the best way. It's not just twenty-somethings who are attached to their BlackBerrys or iPhones, but fiftysomethings too. The fact that these devices are so user-friendly means that people of all ages are finding them a valuable asset in the workplace. Most of the Managing and Senior Partners I know use this type of technology because they understand the business benefits they bring.
There has been a massive shift in the way law firms use technology in recent years. Online case management systems, e-billing, using cloud or other web based services and remote access have all led to smoother, improved business operations. As firms see the advantages, they're keen to know what the latest technology is and how it can help them achieve a competitive advantage or at least take away any IT pain leaving them free to do what they do best - practice law.
This is one reason why many of our clients work with us, either as a standalone IT resource or in combination with an in-house team. An external firm is likely to keep up-to-date with the latest software and devices in order to add value to their clients, who in turn will be informed about new developments and how they can work for them.
We're also seeing more and more law firms approach us about upgrading their software applications, often to boost capacity to deal with increased user activity; helpdesk provision - in particular out of office hours - and managing IT services in general.
The biggest concern that law firms have is security. Remote access isn't a new phenomenon though - lawyers have been working from home or other locations from their own PCs or laptops and downloading content from business servers onto their own hard drives for many years. The security fear seems to have been exacerbated by the number of employees now using their own devices to access company information - it seems the more people have access, the bigger the concern. With the onslaught of social media and the paranoia that employees will share company information - confidential or otherwise - on social networking sites, the fear has grown exponentially. …