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Something for the weekend: who said this & are associates getting younger?

Quick quiz but we are not going to tell you the answer but which IT director said this about which legal IT supplier?

“You really are alienating the very people who will be making the decisions. The partners in law firms generally employ someone to head up IT as their main focus is doing legal work. Most of them wouldn’t have a clue what your platform does. And even for those who would bother to go to the website, it isn’t patently obvious to a non-technologist what it does/how it would work for them.
“IT Directors simply cannot tolerate people who try to get around them – which is exactly what your mailing is intended to do. We have demands on us daily (if not hourly) for more stuff.  My switchboard will tell you that they route on average 40 calls a day straight through to my voicemail from vendors. There are many tales told among my peers of vendors who, when not being awarded business, contact the managing partner to complain. They are always given short shrift.
“So, no, your campaign didn’t offend me, I just thought it was very silly and not properly thought through. At worst you will have offended some of my peers and at best you’ve wasted marketing funds.”

And finally some thoughts on the use of associates in the ediscovery process…

7 replies on “Something for the weekend: who said this & are associates getting younger?”

“IT Directors simply cannot tolerate people who try to get around them”
The trouble is, over many years I have found that legal IT directors tend to have short horizons and are mostly concerned with knobs (not the selling type :-)) switches, discs and clouds and less so with the strategic aims of the firm in a changing world. It's often hard to get them to talk business which is why frustrated vendors will try to work around them – for later inclusion once a business sponsor is found.

“legal IT directors tend to have short horizons and are mostly concerned with knobs”
What an incredibly sweeping and patronising statement. Whilst there are indeed some examples of IT Managers promoted above their abilty to understand the needs of the business, they are much fewer and further between than they were 15 years ago.
Most (certainly in the larger firms) have a very good understanding of the strategic imperatives facing the business, and a very well honed vendor bulls**t detector as well. Half the battle as IT Director/CIO is trying to get the Partners to focus their resources and energies on the strategic objectives and projects that have already been developed through consultation with the business and sanctioned by the board/management committee.
Having some half-arsed, ill though out demand for the latest shiny doodad championed by a credulous partner egged on by a lying salesman wastes time and energy all round, and as the person who is saying 'no' for all the right reasons, one ends up being cast in the role of the blocker of 'innovation'. Invariably it turns out to be an expensive polished turd, and not even fully polished one at that, but you get the blame when it all goes wrong, and 'told you so' is not accepted as an excuse.
None of this is news to anyone who has headed up a support funtion in a law firm, and those vendors who also get it tend to be the ones for whom the door is opened willingly.
What has irked me even more down the years is when the right vendor and the right product come along, we try to help the salesperson make the right pitch and focus on the right issues.
Then when that magic 15 minute Partner attention span window finally opens, what do they do? You guessed it, 30 slides of background about what a great company XYZ corp is, look at the breadth of our product line, 99% of which is not relevant to your problem, etc. Heads go down to the Blackberrys, people have to dash off to an urgent client crisis, etc., and yet again you end up looking like the idiot for calling the meeting in the first place.
The walls are high for a reason. If you want to get inside them, earn the trust of the gatekeeper. If you tunnel underneath them instead, you'll find yourself at the wrong end of the pointy stick.

“egged on by a lying salesman wastes time and energy all round”
“that magic 15 minute Partner attention span window”
Well, 'In-house IT Commentator' are these comments not rather “sweeping and patronising” and in the second example biting the hand that feeds you?
Oh, and whoever decreed that IT directors should be the 'Gatekeepers' or indeed that there should be a 'Gatekeeper' at all? I know many IT and non-IT Partners who are quite capable of ascertaining business value in technology solutions and dealing with irrelevant vendor calls.

Sweeping Generalisations 'R' Us, all round. It's so not that black or white. Let's face it: there are idiots and great people on both sides of the wall. I should know.

It was ever thus. IBM entertain CEOs and Apple make cute ads for the iPad.
Graham van Terheyden

From Chris Dale: Jonathan Maas is right and there is no easy answer. It would be interesting to discover how do providers THINK they achieved their last 12 months' sales.
See my comment at

I just read both Jonathan's comment and Chris Dales post about this and having been on both sides of the fence too in terms of selling and being sold too in the legal market, my view is that this conflict can be easily avoided. It is purely down to the manner in which the approach is made and should encompass both parties respecting that although their 'agendas' are not necessarily aligned at any given point this does not make one party intrinsically correct.
To try and introduce some levity to this discussion I am reminded of a cartoon that I was pointed too earlier in my career and which I've had cause to recall many times since ( and before anyway 'reacts' I am not saying that salespeople are always 'right' or even knowledgeable, far from it!

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