In his article he identifies six big picture trends, as he calls them, affecting technology use by lawyers.
I won’t spend time on the trends predictions that are of interest mainly to the legal community. Instead, I’d like to highlight four of the more general trends, because I believe businesspeople want to understand how their lawyers are changing their law practices in response to evolving forces around them:
- Mobility and Collaboration. Lawyers are increasingly working with groups of people who are geographically separated — just as their clients are doing. Mobility is a requirement, and at the same time requires extra focus on collaboration. Laptop computers, wikis, Microsoft Sharepoint Services, web conferencing, and telecommuting from home are the emerging implications.
- The Internet Becomes a Platform. Dennis predicts that Internet-based applications will be fertile ground for law firms in 2006, noting: “The new trend referred to as Web 2.0 has started to turn the Internet into a platform for simple, useful applications as well as a repository for information.” Look for law firms to adopt VOIP in large numbers, start using RSS feeds to distribute newsletters and other information, and seriously consider using ASP software (Dennis, the new term is Software as a Service — SAS — but that’s OK, some of us old timers knew what you meant). He also suggests that law firms will be required to upgrade their Web presences, as fewer people use Yellow Pages and instead turn to Web searches to find new services.
- Improved Productivity Tools. Lawyers are placing increased emphasis on productivity tools, especially time management tools and tools to keep track of their hours more easily (such as capturing billable hours with mobile devices). Other tools of interest to lawyers will be project and work flow management tools; software to assist with brainstorming and generating ideas; and vertical practice area software such as software for lawyers who practice family law.
- Client-driven Technology Continues to Evolve and Grow.“Clients are frustrated by the technology (and billing) practices of lawyers,” says Dennis. Look for some law firms to survey their clients about their technology needs and wants, and for clients to push their law firms for improved delivery of legal services through technology. Extranets between law firms and their clients will become more common, especially in intellectual property practices. Some large clients may make surprise moves to smaller law firms, primarily because the firms cater to their clients’ technology needs.
The article offers plenty of new business ideas for enterprising entrepreneurs who serve the legal market with their technology. And if nothing else, the article will deliver insights into how you can expect your lawyer to operate during 2006.
You will find a lot more in “Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Predictions for 2006: Small Steps for Most Firms, Giant Leaps for a Few Firms.” Read the whole thing.