Magazine article Online

The Power of Information Bumps into Diminishing Returns: The Balance of Power Has Shifted from Availability and Accessibility to Competence and Control

Magazine article Online

The Power of Information Bumps into Diminishing Returns: The Balance of Power Has Shifted from Availability and Accessibility to Competence and Control

Article excerpt

Not long ago I listened to an attorney lecture a group of journalists about the power of information. Specifically, he was talking about how knowing personal information about potential jurors and witnesses could substantially bolster a lawyer's case. This information, gleaned from public records sources on LexisNexis, substantially increases his ability to choose sympathetic jurors and discredit witnesses.

It was a masterful performance and convinced me that, when I want an eloquent address to a jury, this attorney is my guy. I had a few problems with his basic premise. Twenty years ago, when not every law firm had access to online information, the information available online truly gave lawyers, not to mention businesspeople, a competitive advantage. Had I been listening two decades ago, I would have been on my feet applauding.

Times have changed. Online is a fact of life for most law firms, as it is for most businesses. Access to information is commonplace--resulting in diminishing returns to simply having information available in electronic form. Google's ubiquity is but one indication that electronic information is important, but not the differentiator between success and failure, authority and weakness.

The balance of power has shifted from availability and accessibility to competence and control. Boldly, this attorney used his personal details to make his point about information access. Up on the screen came all his home addresses for the past few years. He pointed out that one of the addresses really wasn't his, but that of an associate for whom he had paid her home-based business telephone bill. …

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