Comment, Opinion & Guest Articles
This is an updated and extended version of the article that appears in today’s Legal IT Insider – and, in case you are wondering, the short answer is “yes”. We’ve tried, we’ve really tried to be supportive of efforts to transform Microsoft SharePoint into a viable legal document management system. We’ve even sat in meetings where Kool-Aid drinking Microsoft executives have described iManage WorkSite as a “parasite” for exploiting gaps in the Microsoft Windows/Word platform and promising it was “toast” because document management would eventually become an integral part of the wordprocessing and operating system environment via SharePoint. Twelve years on, what do we see? To put it politely, SharePoint as a DMS is a flop.
The problem of gender discrimination, and in particular the difficulty that women have in being seen and treated as equals in a senior leadership context, is an enduring one. It manifests itself in many forms, some overt, some less so. The disparity in hourly rates between men and women in big law firms is symptomatic and featured in an interesting article on this site (Big data reveals big gender inequality.. 6th May). This is a familiar problem in law firms as well as in the broader professional services world. Other familiar problems which I come across include: the difficulty that women of ‘a certain age’ have in being taken seriously as leadership material; the continued over dependence of firms on billings and chargeable hours in assessing partnership potential; and the persistence of history and tradition in framing decisions, at the expense of some talented females who would like to play more influential roles in their firms.
In the UK, the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) latest Risk Outlook update has for the first time identified cybercrime as a threat to law firms. Describing such risks as “significant”, it follows earlier reports of bogus spear phishing emails, purportedly from the SRA, which could be used to gain unlawful access to computer systems. In parallel, the regulator has published Spiders in the web: The risks of online crime to legal business, which sets out specific guidance on firms’ responsibilities to safeguard their computer systems and take appropriate steps to tackle what it describes as “an emerging risk”. The shape of cybercrime is changing. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) present a particular challenge and are a very real and present danger for law firms.
In a recent proceeding before the U.S. Court, Microsoft was ordered to turn-over email belonging to a user of its hosted mail service. That email belonged to a user outside the U.S. The email itself was located on a server in a datacentre in Ireland – outside the U.S., which should be out of the reach of U.S. authorities and subject to the requirements of the E.U. privacy laws. Microsoft challenged the order and lost. They argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction over this particular data as it was stored outside the U.S., and therefore it was not subject to disclosure. They were wrong.
A new white paper, written by a trio of industry experts , gets to the heart of the challenges enterprises are encountering as they work to successfully implement Big Data initiatives. The 43-page document explains how big data can be a turning point for many, a savior, to some, from the dogmatic prescriptions frequently used to address challenges. However, it can also lead many to economic and career-ending failures, hence a false prophet.
Legal IT Insider Extra: Mimecast Interview or why email remains the primary interface to the Internet
Here’s a story we didn’t have space for in the latest Insider newsletter so we’re offering it as an Insider Extra… We recently caught up with Mimecast co-founder and CTO Neil Murray (pictured) for a preview of the company’s plans for the coming year. He began by explaining the company’s “Bread” + “Butter” + “Jam” strategy.
There have been a few postings recently on Legal IT Insider regarding BI products within the Legal Sector, including the Redwood acquisitions and competing product launches etc. As someone who is quite familiar with all of the suppliers and products mentioned, I could comment on the relative merits of the products (and they do all have merits and can make good firms even better). However rather than comment on the average refresh times, technology stacks or merits of ETL layers I thought it might be useful to mention that there is rather a large elephant in the room. And I think the suppliers of these BI suites would acknowledge that they meet this elephant quite often.
New research from storage company Iron Mountain suggests that consumers doubt whether the widely-publicised ‘right to be forgotten’ will work in practice. The European study found that the overwhelming majority (92%) of consumers in the UK say they now deal with so many organisations, both online and offline, that they no longer know who holds what information about them.
It is generally accepted by now that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), social media and cloud computing cannot be dismissed as passing fads, but are without a doubt here to stay. Today we have the ability to create, disseminate and store information on an unprecedented scale. We can do this with ease and what’s more, from our personal mobile devices, such as iPhones, BlackBerrys and tablets. Not only this, but as mobile telephony technologies continue to improve, we are entering a world where any data can be accessed, from anywhere, at any time, using any device.
Will video kill the railway train? Birmingham City Council has revealed its Curzon HS2 Masterplan, with all manner of artist’s impressions to show how the 25 year plan will re-shape Birmingham, all kick-started by the arrival of the HS2 high-speed (and high-price) rail-link with London. But is HS2 really a 21st century solution to the problem of greater connectivity between the UK’s commercial centres? Matt Rhodes, Commercial Services Manager for Tamworth-based IT specialists Quiss Technology, argues that HS2 is a retrograde step…
Welcome to the latest issue of the Legal IT Insider newsletter (April 2014, issue 272). Our top stories include: Round 2 of the LSSA v Law Society row over the “preferred IT supplier” scheme. “Not in the best interests of the legal profession” say LSSA. The Law Society extends deadline for applications by one month has non-LSSA suppliers, such as Peppermint, join the boycott + More industry consolidation as Intapp buys The Frayman Group + xit2 exits the DIIG group + “Glass Action” as Phoenix law firm pioneers use of Google Glass in litigation.
It is a little ironic that although the United States now has a thriving “legal industry disruption” conference calendar, with LexThink, RelEvent and ReInvent Law to name just three, the drive towards creating a new legal paradigm – what some people call NewLaw (as distinct from Big Law) – is being held back by the profession’s own inherently conservative, protectionist attitude.
Disruption, disruption, disruption everywhere. You can’t move these days without law firms and legal IT vendors talking about disruptive innovations however in this LexisNexis Business of Law white board video (which runs under five minutes) Christopher T. Anderson argues that “The debate misses the real point. Disruption does not come from industry. Disruption will not come from law firms. Disruption comes, and is already coming, from our customers.” Chris neatly sums it up in the last sentence “This is not the end of lawyers but it just might be the end of lawyering as we know it.”
This guest post from Ken Moyle, Chief Legal Officer at DocuSign outlines the use of eSignatures within businesses and addresses common concerns about legality, legibility and legitimacy. Ken frequently advises government agencies, lawmakers and industry executives on electronic signatures and records.
The March issue (#271) of the Legal IT Insider newsletter is out now. Our top story is Getting Down to Business Time as BigHand buys Esquire Innovations + Clio raises $20 million + Rekoop raises £500k. Looks like some people believe there is plenty of healthy growth potential returning to the legal IT marketplace.
Data posted by the ABA in January 2014 indicates that the number of new students enrolling in ABA-accredited law schools in the fall of 2013 was down by just over 8%. Some schools fared much worse: 13 recorded declines of 30% or more, and 27 saw declines in the 20%–30% range. In all, 132 of 199 schools experienced enrollment drops. Overall, U.S. law schools have not experienced these declining first-year enrollment numbers since the 1970s.
A recent decision in the Court of Appeal in SAS Institute v World Programming Limited (“SAS”) could be seen as yet another example of the UK courts declining to protect software manufacturers from those producing copies of their products with nearly identical functionality, simply because they are written with different software code and/or a different software language.
The explosion of digital documents and the changing litigation landscape makes document governance of strategic importance to law firms. The effective use of technology allows lawyers to focus their skills on the case in hand – confident that the files they are working upon conform to best practice information standards. The number of potential data sources required for capturing evidence can introduce legal and logistical challenges. Whether lawyers are using document types such as Word, Excel and PDF files or new data sources – for example: web pages, images or sound files – legal technology and risk professionals want to ensure the same quality standards are applied to control and manage information and reputational risk.
Rekoop CEO Phil Wedgwood writes: The Legal IT Insider UK Top 200 Chart has now been extended to include a new column for 3rd party Time Recording software. As the only global vendor solely dedicated to time recording, we’re obviously well positioned to see the application’s evolution both here and overseas. And while we’re enjoying a noticeable increase in demand and steady influx of new clients, the new chart still throws into relief a worrying statistic – that only a third of the top tier have rolled out third party products, compared to two thirds in the US.
We are now in the early stages of the next step in legal automation, where communication and computability will increasingly change the nature of practice and of the law itself. Those economic units – whether individuals, firms, companies, or governments – that successfully adapt to these changes will prosper; those that do not will suffer. This article will suggest a possible strategy for successful adaptation – a vision for creating a Legal Technology Practice within the structures of a traditional law firm, an approach that has the potential not just to help the firm that adopts it to survive the transition to this next step, but to convert the challenge of change into an opportunity for growth.
Microsoft XP – LSSA warns law firms to be vigilant against cyber threats & keep technology up to date
Roger Jackson, the chair of the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) is warning law firms to counter cybercrime threats and the withdrawal of support for Microsoft Windows XP, which means continued use of Windows XP might not meet SRA data security requirements.
The legal sector has probably been among the slowest in the UK to adopt recent technological advances such as cloud computing, virtualisation and mobile working, or has implemented them only partially. This is especially true of the country’s smaller and high street firms, which could perhaps most benefit from the unique advantages each approach offers as they aim to compete with larger, global organisations. A large part of the reluctance among SMBs in the legal sector to fully embrace each of the three technologies stems from a common concern: security. Tim Maxwell, business development director at JMC IT, considers the well-founded reservations about the storage and use of sensitive information in a more open IT environment and outlines the strides being made specifically to address such concerns.
There’s an interesting new report just hit our desk. Called the Future of Print, it is by digital print specialist Altodigital and the futurist Ian Pearson (pictured) that looks at both current trends in print and document technologies, as well as some more longer term trends we’ll be seeing over the next 40 years.