Legal IT Insider is 25 years old! Founded by Charles Christian long before most lawyers had their own computer, this publication has for a quarter of a century been at the forefront of helping the legal market to stay abreast of IT wins, deals, movers, shakers and product news.

The first newsletter – then called the Legal Technology Insider – came out this week in October 1995. On page three was this story:

INTERNET TO GO

Hamlin Slowe consultant Graham Morris has teamed-up with electronic publishing specialists Velvet Palms (☎ 973-341639 & 0181-365 1740) to provide a new service aimed at law firms wanting to establish a presence on the Internet. The service was launched last week with Velvet Palms providing technical input and HTML authoring skills, while Graham Morris will advise on the commercial and professional aspects of running a WWW site.

While the first Legal IT Insider newsletter was plain black and white, it quickly became published on orange paper, which gave birth to the name the Orange Rag. Why? So it couldn’t be photocopied. It was circulated by post and cost £94 for 24 issues. The website came later.

‘Legal IT’ has changed dramatically in the past two decades, for better and for worse. In the best examples, IT has been elevated in status to front and centre of law firm strategy and client service delivery, often leading to the diversification of (don’t laugh) harmonious ‘IT’ and ‘innovation’ teams within law firms. The growth of legal operations professionals and teams mean corporate legal teams are now far more sophisticated in the way they engage with outside counsel.

But in many cases, change is far more superficial than it ought to be or appears on paper. Within law firms, decision makers on IT often compete rather than co-operate, and in-house, legal teams ask their advisors loosely what IT ‘innovation’ they have in place, whatever that means.

COVID has been a big leveller. Innovation for innovation’s sake is happening far less and IT budgets have been cut in line with wider budget cuts. It’s a tough market, but the good thing that firms are being forced to focus on productivity and efficiency.

Twenty five years after our launch, the environment is one that we could never have imagined back then. But on page one of the October 1995 White/Orange Rag, Charles said this: “As office automation projects frequently constitute one of the largest items of capital expenditure in a law firm’s budget – and with so many suppliers specialising in legal IT – it is also a market where the risk of becoming yesterday’s men saddled with yesterday’s technology could be ruinous.” So much has changed, and then again….

caroline.hill@legalitlexicon.com