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Law Office Technology. Kenneth Hirsh Director of the Law Library and Information Technology and Clinical Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law Wayne Miller Assistant Dean for Academic Technologies, Duke University School of Law David Whelan

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law office technology

Law Office Technology

Kenneth Hirsh

Director of the Law Library and Information Technology and Clinical Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law

Wayne Miller

Assistant Dean for Academic Technologies, Duke University School of Law

David Whelan

Manager, Legal Information, Law Society of Upper Canada

Why it Needs to Be in Your School’s Curriculum and How to Get it There

slow start
Slow Start

Early promise of Application Service Providers goes bust with Silicon Valley

Windows XP Pro debuts in 2001 and ends up the significant business desktop OS for the decade

Typical lawyer has a Dell desktop running Windows 98 and either Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect

document driven
Document Driven

2009 Lawyer Usage

95% Microsoft Word

30% Corel WordPerfect

1% Open Office

2001 Lawyer Usage

55% Microsoft Word

44% Corel WordPerfect

Open Office 1.0

Open Office 2.0

Open Office 3.0

Microsoft Word 2000

Microsoft Word 2002

Microsoft Word 2003

Microsoft Word 2007

Corel WordPerfect 9

Corel WordPerfect 10

Corel WordPerfect 11

Corel WordPerfect 12

Corel WordPerfect X3

Corel WordPerfect X4












Source:, 2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey

same old swiss army knife
Same Old Swiss Army™ Knife




Customer Relationship Management

Practice Management



Source: 2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey

High adoption of Microsoft Office has led Microsoft products to dominate in other areas

Microsoft Outlook top product for:

what about legal technology
What about legal technology?
  • Industry has matured in the 2000s
    • Fewer products, higher product versions, except in niche or emerging areas
    • Increased focus on enterprise versions
    • Increased curiosity about “legal vertical”
    • Acquisitions by larger companies focusing on professional services workflow
    • Software-as-a-Service model gains traction







Thomson Reuters









Juris Financials


PlumTree Portals

FinPlan Divorce Planner

Applied Discovery

Global Securities Information (GSI)

large firms are enterprise business
Large Firms are Enterprise Business

About 40% of law school graduates go into a firm with 101 or more lawyers

About 33% of law school graduates go into a firm with 2-10 lawyers

Source: National Law Journal, NALP

National Law Journal Top 250

enterprise it
Enterprise IT

Microsoft Centric

Network OS, Desktop OS, E-mail Server, Virtual Server, Sharepoint

Business Apps

Integrating complex business applications as well as custom legal applications


Help desk sourced for 24 hour coverage, data centers co-located with in multiple sites

Cost Recovery

Developing apps for resale as services to clients, licensing to vendors


Firms with more than 500 lawyers are budgeting an average of $14.8 million on IT

Source: 2007 ILTA Technology Survey

tech and the solo or small firm
Tech and the Solo or Small Firm

Source: 2007 ILTA Technology Survey2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey

  • Simpler but not necessarily rudimentary
    • Solo and small firm lawyer usage similar to 100+ firm lawyer except
      • Less likely to use a smart phone with wireless e-mail
      • Less likely to have a server-based environment
      • More likely to use a thumb drive
    • Typical lawyer will have a Dell desktop running Windows XP, Office 2007 and Internet Explorer, and have broadband Internet.

Source: 2009 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey

  • Adoption of legal technology continues to lag
    • Ignored in purchase of “consumer” technology
  • Law office technology with lower adoption:
    • Metadata removal tools
    • Document management
    • Practice management software
    • Conflicts checking

As soon as [you] open your doors. Practice management software is mission critical.

Source: February 27, 2009 survey of 90 solo lawyers on the Solosez discussion list hosted by the American Bar Association

“When would you recommend that an attorney begin using practice management software?”

enable the evolution
Enable the Evolution

Law Student




Microsoft Office

Web Browser



Desktop / Laptop


Microsoft Office

Web Browser

Practice Management



Wireless device

Ubuntu / S-a-a-S


Web Browser

Web 2.0 Marketing

Practice Management



know your audience
Know your audience

Survey students, before and after

Engage their summer experience in class

Read your evaluations!

be prepared to make changes
Be prepared to make changes

It’s difficult during the semester– plan ahead

Identify the most important changes and concentrate on those (maybe a “theme” suggests itself?)

plan for succession
Plan for Succession

Of three founders, two are no longer available

Invite potential co-instructors to sit in

The content is more important than the individual

we started small
We started “small”

We started the course designed for a small firm or an individual

Covers all the essentials

Addressed ourselves to basic software

Large firms insulate lawyers from tech issues, we thought!

we retooled for large
We retooled for large

More emphasis on concepts (conflicts checking, for instance)

More abstract discussion of software categories

But – how to engage students in class?

  • Exercises:
    • Meta-data scrubbing
    • Negotiation at a distance
    • Business research
    • Presentation
  • Final Project (60% grade)
    • Students work in groups of 2 or 3
    • 30% for in-class presentation
    • 30% for final paper
sample topics
Sample topics
  • Extranets
  • Technology in law firm disaster planning
  • Attorneys & blogging – tools, ethical issues, as attorney advertising, role in high-profile trials
  • The Blackberry and similar devices - legal implications of the technology; social issues for lawyers.
  • More to be posted on Blackboard…
grading for final project
Grading for Final Project
  • Graded by the following criteria: timely completion, thoroughness, creativity, appropriate use of technology in the presentation, relevance to and reflection on issues facing the legal profession, and appropriate selection and documentation of sources.
videoconferenced guests
Videoconferenced guests
  • Law librarian – history of technology in law
  • Ediscovery attorney & an economics consultant – ediscovery concerns and current business practices
  • Courtroom 21 – future of courtroom and assistive technologies
midsized firm tech comm
Midsized firm tech comm.

Helps me – I can be IT director rather than a partner of the firm

We discuss what the approach should be for our firm

Changed course dynamic, helping (along with a morning slot!) with the engagement of students in the class

Helped focus guest speakers, our exercises and in-class discussion

next full scale sim
Next: full-scale sim?

No, too much to undertake

Exercises are the easiest element to focus narrowly on a simulation

Might help with final projects, too