Fans of Axxia DNA, InterAction and Visualfiles may be amused, confused or just plain bemused by this announcement made by LexisNexis Legal & Professional at the ILTA conference in Las Vegas. The company has launched a Legal Software Bill of Rights which lists 10 rights that attorneys and legal professionals should expect from software designed for the business of law.

“In some ways this is an indictment of everything that is wrong with the legal technology industry – and a call to action to reboot,” says Michael Lipps, VP & managing director for the LexisNexis Business of Law Software Solutions (BLSS) business. “The legal industry is in the midst of dynamic change and as a community – customers, vendors and pundits – we need to collectively have an open dialogue about what’s working, what isn’t and what needs to change.

“The philosophy behind the Bill of Rights calls for software designed for the business of law to work the way lawyers and legal professionals work – especially in an increasingly mobile and time sensitive world. For example, the same simplicity and elegance we find in consumer technologies – from smart phones to online shopping – should be central to software developed for the legal space. Migration should be easy as well. There should be no question that the customer owns their data – whether it’s stored in the cloud or not. A week-long class should not be a prerequisite for gaining value from a software product.”

LexisNexis adds that it is expressly committed to the legal software industry. Over the course of the last 15 months, LexisNexis has made investments in a “software center of excellence” in Cary, North Carolina, as part of its commitment to this Bill of Rights. The center of excellence brings together the vast depth and breadth of LexisNexis experience in the legal industry and has focused it on core software disciplines including product management, user experience design and customer research, along with traditional software engineering and development.




COMMENT: Oh, oh, are LexisNexis at risk of holding themselves out as hostages to fortune? This is a bold declaration to make by a company that is currently running several years behind schedule with its Streamline BPM platform. We’ll leave readers to comment on some of the company’s other software development projects.

Turning to some of the 10 rights…

Number (1) surely ignores the fact that if there are to be any gains in productivity and efficiency, software must change the way lawyers work – if lawyers are going to continue working the same way they always have, the may as well save their money and not buy any IT.

Number (5) Well we all know who can see law firms data now – the US government and its intelligence agencies!

Number (8) Ah, the so-called Martini Factor – access to systems “any time, any place, anywhere” – a comment I first heard made by Martin Telfer (the CIO of Baker & McKenzie) at a conference in London in 1997. (Read also Legal Practice in the Digital Age, 1998)

Although the comments surrounding the launch of this Bill of Rights pick up on many of the current memes in legal software thinking – the consumerization of applications’ interfaces, gamification to improve the training process – the document doesn’t look at pricing, which is becoming an increasing pain-point for many law firms in their negotiations with software vendors on SaaS and related cloud services.