Two new sets of survey results to report today: one of ebooks and digital technology, the other on law firms' attitudes towards risk…

A survey commissioned by LexisNexis UK reveals that lawyers are quick to embrace new technology which is seen as essential to their everyday working lives. Almost half of the respondents (47%) regard themselves as either ‘early adopters’ or ‘at the cutting edge’ when it comes to embracing new technologies.
 
The survey Are Lawyers Early Adopters? canvassed the views of 100 lawyers – from sole practitioners to magic circle partners – to learn about their adoption of the latest breed of technology (such as smartphones, mobile applications and ebooks) and how they view these technological tools with regard to accessing information and advice for themselves and their clients. The report uncovered several additional findings including:

• More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) favour online or digital resources to ‘traditional paper-based law libraries’
• More than one in ten respondents (11%) have already purchased an Apple iPad, while a similar proportion (10%) had an ebook reader, such as Kindle, specifically to help them do legal work.
• Nearly nine in ten respondents (87%) retrieve information from digital sources other than email (such as via smart phones or by downloading eBooks) on a daily basis.
• The majority of the profession have embraced the use of smart phone technology and, as an example, two-thirds of respondents (66%) utilise a BlackBerry handset.
• Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) either ‘constantly’ or ‘at least once an hour’ pick-up their email when out of the office.
• Eight out of ten respondents (81%) indicated advances in technology speed up legal research and almost three-quarters (73%) identified not having to carry paper work as beneficial.

Manwhile IntApp Inc has announced the publication of the 2010 Law Firm Risk Survey Report, an industry study presenting findings collected from 80 law firms. Sponsored by IntApp, the survey was produced by the Risk Roundtable Initiative, an industry association that organizes events and programmes for law firm risk stakeholders to foster dialogue, education and the advancement of best practices. Risk professionals from the 250 largest US-based and the 30 largest Canadian-based law firms were invited to participate.
 
The Law Firm Risk Survey focuses on firm risk management policies, practices and priorities. It examines specific issues including new business intake, attorney lateral hiring and departures, ethical walls management, confidentiality enforcement, internal education, and compliance tracking and verification. The published survey report provides quantitative summaries of overall group response data, as well as samplings of individual responses to questions seeking free-form comments. A selection of key findings include:
 
• Top law firm risk concerns include business intake, records management and confidentiality protection.
• Clients continue to raise concerns about the steps firms take to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive business information.
• Nearly 90% of firms have been asked by clients to restrict and track internal firm access to sensitive information via ethical walls and other confidentiality controls.
• 70% of firms report taking on matters subject to confidentiality controls mandated by external regulations; firms identified the HITECH Act for personal health information, and state and international personal data privacy laws as regulations of greatest concern.
• Nearly half of all firms have been audited or received requests for proof of compliance from a client or external agency.
• In response to an expanding set of risk management challenges, organizations are increasing the number of internal stakeholders tasked with risk response and compliance.
• Supporting this trend, more firms have designated formal budgets earmarked for risk management.
 
More information about the 2010 Law Firm Risk Management Survey is available at www.riskroundtable.com

Comment: We think the LexisNexis survey would have carried a little more weight if it had taken a wider sample and had not been conducted by an offshoot of Byfield, one of the PR consultancies for LexisNexis. It would have also been interesting to hear what respondents thought were the main deterrents to the take up of ebooks etc as we suspect one of the reasons (particularly for smaller firms) has been the fact that over the last 20 years legal publishers have traditionally charged more for digital content than for hard-copy editions of the same material. As we've said before – and will no doubt continue saying – the phrase 'dynamic legal publisher' is an oxymoron.