Joining the IT Crowd
It must be said that when young would-be lawyers dream of their future in Chambers or at a top City firm, a lifetime more or less bolted to a PC or laptop screen is unlikely to feature large in their imagination.
Last-minute dashes to court, elegant opening arguments, forensic examination of evidence, clever lines of questioning and the pursuit of truth and justice: yes. Long Tuesday afternoons perusing Excel spreadsheets: we suspect not.
Nonetheless, it is an inescapable fact of legal life that good IT skills are essential to an effective working environment, from the basics of software tools to more sophisticated legal tech innovations such as mobile apps and off-site data storage. And the consequences of poor IT skills can be fairly dire, as one senior lawyer has been determined to demonstrate.
Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel for the US KIA Motors firm, was so perturbed by what he saw as woeful IT skills on the part of firms with whom he worked that he conducted an IT competency ‘audit’ (read: test). He says, in what one imagines to be the stern but disappointed voice of a headmaster: “The firms have not fared well, and I have, among other things, cut their billing rates unless and until they pass a subsequent audit.”
In partnership with a local university’s legal practice technology institute, he is developing an automated IT audit package that will be freely available to lawyers and students. Predictably, his efforts were met with a certain amount of antipathy, as one might expect from hard-working lawyers finding their fees cut owing to confusion over how to operate an Excel spreadsheet.
But at the heart of the exercise is the belief that for lawyers to provide the best possible service to clients, they must equip themselves with the skills to do so. Happily, there is a vast range of tools available to lawyers looking to improve their IT skills, from informal web-based packages to CPD-accredited courses (it’s worth looking at the SRA site to identify an appropriate provider/course).
Of equal importance is ensuring that firms and chambers engage professional litigation support partners to work alongside them on those aspects of legal tech which day-to-day IT skills cannot reach. It is for professionals such as Legastat to undertake those large-scale, sophisticated IT tasks which require significant legal tech expertise - such as eDiscovery, eDisclosure, and a wealth of other legal tech innovations – enabling lawyers to focus on what they do best: providing clients with incisive, expert legal advice.
At Legastat, we take pride in being ahead-of-the-curve when it comes to legal IT and tech – and on March 25th, we will be at LawTech Futures 2014 at Stand 42, continuing our commitment to providing our clients and partners with innovative, world-class litigation support.
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