Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ILTA-When will lawyers find the time to practice?

ILTA was a great experience: totally exhausting. Overall, I agree with Peter Krakaur’s (CKO Orrick) assessment that the presentations clearly showed we are embarking on a period of significant change, but also a renewed sense of energy or excitement.

For 10 years, there has been little new to talk about. There have many great ideas, but few instances of real change. For example, it was rare to see screen shots of examples of KM in practice (by which I mean not simply search and retrieval). Now there appears to be broad acceptance that change is happening, a few firms are embracing alternative billing and some are even moving towards performance based review for associates (not just number of hours).

To this new world, comes new technology such as profitability analysis and project management. Session after session highlighted new technology and placed some or all the burden of adapting to the “new normal” on the attorney. I began to wonder when lawyers will find time to practice. After 30 years of innovation, we require attorneys to be:

  • Competent secretaries
  • Skilled researchers
  • Adept at numerous software applications
  • Seasoned marketers, and
  • Capable project managers

Lawyer circa. 1980

Lawyer 2010

We may need to start asking ourselves how many of these tasks can be offloaded to dedicated professional staff or handled by technology.

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