Laura Owen – The Tech Evolution: Change or Die

Laura Owen – The Tech Evolution: Change or Die.

Owen of Cisco gave one of the best presentations I attended last year.
She covers some of the same themes in her excellent new article called “The Tech Evolution: Change or Die,”
which is absolutely required reading for (1) any law firm doing any
planning at all for the use of technology and (2) any corporate general
counsel or purchaser of legal services.

The most striking moment
in Laura's presentation came when she unveiled a simple “wish list” she
had for technology tools she felt Cisco's law firms could provide
Cisco. There were sixteen items on the list (I have my notes). She was
not asking for all of them, but maybe a few of them. In the room were
reps of some of the largest and most prominent law firms in the
country. Not one of them was willing to say that they could do even one
of the items on the list.

I was stunned.

None of the items
represented anything like rocket science. I talked to Laura and another
Cisco rep after the presentation and confirmed that they were as
shocked by the response as I was.

At that point, I noticed the wafting smell of death coming from the traditional approach to the practice of law.

you want a strategic plan to work from, you cannot do much better than
simply working from this article as a blueprint. My notion of
“client-driven technology” reflects a similar approach. The devil is in
the details of implementation and execution and that's where someone
like me, my friend Michael Kraft
(with whom I had a discussion on issues very similar to those raised in
this article just this morning), or one of the other great legal tech
consultants can really help a firm.

My concern continues to be
for the corporate legal departments and other clients who work with
with law firms and lawyers who do not even get the basics of modern
technology and its role in client services, let alone Sarbanes Oxley,
record management and retention, and electronic discovery. Can you
really expect innovation from firms focused on rolling out faxing from
laptop computers?

Change or die, indeed.

We will definitely be discussing the issues raised by Laura's article at LexThink! Chicago in April. There's still time to get on the invitation list.

2005, I'll be putting much more of my focus into my consulting
practice, especially areas like “client-driven technology.” I think
that I can do more good helping with corporate legal departments than I
can with law firms, but I'm happy to talk with firms that are serious
about making changes. Laura says, “Change or die.” I might soften it a
little and say, “Change or lose your best clients and best people,” but
that's just an iterim step on a downward spiral.

You don't have to believe me, but you'd better read the article and do some thinking about it.  []

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