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    March 4th, 2011

    ♫ You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
    In everything I do … ♫

    Music, Lyrics and recorded by: Jackson Browne.

    A recent quote by my friend and notable practice management consultant Gerry Riskin caught my eye: “[T]oo many lawyers pride themselves on their IT incompetencies believing that it makes them somehow charming and brilliant. I say they might as well be sneaking into the firm at night and taking cash out of the safe. The costs associated with that attitude include:

    • poorer client service by failing to capitalize on the efficiencies technology offers
    • competitive disadvantage (clients do not find incompetency charming ever)
    • wasted IT personnel time
    • distracting and therefore delaying or discouraging the latest IT initiatives.”

    Has knowledge of information technologies reached a stage where it can be considered a de facto, if not quite a de jure, standard of practice? One way to look at this is to see where IT knowledge is necessary to legal practice:

    Land Titles: The Land Title and Survey Authority of BC has made it known that an end-date for filing most documents in paper form is not far off.

    Corporations: Corporate Online is the route to deal with a corporation’s filings in BC.

    Courts: Courts Services Online will be expanding the use of technology in the courts over the next three years. Mandatory e-filing is not far into the future.

    Metadata: e-discovery has literally taken the litigation world by storm. Aside from the need to be able to handle discovery in multiple electronic formats (video, audio, text, chat etc.) failing to obtain discovery in native electronic form may fail to find the ‘smoking gun’. In the US case of: In re Payment Card Interchange Fee & Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, 2007 WL 121426 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 2007), it is set forth: “[D]ata ordinarily kept in electronically searchable form ‘should not be produced in a form that removes or significantly degrades this feature.’” Production in TIFF, a common e-discovery format, can delete non-printable metadata.

    Legal Reseach: Whether it is LexisNexis, Westlaw or CanLii, legal research today is carried out in on-line form. Law firms use bound case reports to decorate their hallways.

    ICBC e-billing: This is a recent development that requires litigators to submit invoices in purely electronic form if they wish to retain ICBC as a client.

    Adobe Acrobat: Hardly any application has had such a dramatic impact on the legal profession. It is applied for e-filing, document exchange, archiving of emails and records and more.

    Security, privacy and encryption: Knowledge of how to create, store, access and exchange documents and communications confidentially and securely is implied by the Canons of practice. This extends to e-documents and e-communications by implication.

    Remote Access: Today lawyers must be able to securely access their files and information using the Internet from where ever they may be.

    Sharepoint: The next frontier. Clients are demanding private secure areas on the net that contains all the information on their files accessible 24/7.

    Failing to keep current with legal technology has a hidden cost that will become increasingly apparent as technology becomes a necessary component of competent practice.

    (This post was originally written for the Canadian Bar Association – British Columbia Branch’s newsletter “BarTalk” in the column “PracticeTalk”).

    This entry was posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011 at 9:42 am and is filed under Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “IT Knowledge as a Practice Standard”
    1. Christine Says:

      I think I will print this article for our partners to read!

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