A Decade in Legal Tech – 5 Surprises

Travel back in time to 2010. What was appended to your hand back then? A BlackBerry?  Perhaps the least anticipated change in legal is the decline in usage – to nearly zero – of the BlackBerry smartphone. I was rarely separated from my CrackBerry. It changed everything. Always connected. 

Here’s my take on five changes in legal tech in the last decade.  One caveat, I work mainly with documents, email, mobility, and security. Therefore, I see just a sliver of legal tech. You surely have seen others.

BlackBerry and iPhone 11 Smart Phones

1. BlackBerry ⬇️…iPhone #1

In 2011, 40% of attorneys responding to the ABA Tech Survey used BlackBerries. 

Here are the ABA 2018 Technology Survey data on smartphone usage by lawyers:

  • iOS – 68%
  • Android – 25%
  • BlackBerry – 2%
  • Windows – 1%
  • None – 5%

2. The Cloud ☁️

Even as recently as 5 years ago, the mention of the Cloud drew major push-back at law firms. NetDocuments led the way in legal. NetDocuments is in their 20th year. The most famous SaaS company, Salesforce.com, was founded in 1999. NetDocuments was truly a pioneer, now experiencing tremendous growth. In addition, we have seen surprising Office 365 adoption at law firms in the past two years. 

3. iManage’s management buyout from HP

From Interwoven to Autonomy to HP, iManage wound up as niche product in a bloated company. They escaped not a minute too soon. It’s been an impressive turnaround. 

4. Face🧑🏼‍ ID & Touch 🤚🏼ID 

Security and usability are often at loggerheads. Biometric authentication has satisfied both.

5. Edit a document without a PC 💻

Word may be second only to Outlook email as the tool most frequently used by lawyers. 

These two products made it possible: 

Looking back, what surprising developments have you seen in past decade in legal tech?

Happy Holidays!

-Maureen

The Legal Mobility Disconnect

DeathtoStock_Wired6 (small)

Some interesting and thought provoking data on legal use of Mobile Technology from the ABA Techreport 2014¹, highlighting a significant “Legal Mobility Disconnect”. Though 91% of lawyers use a smartphone, and 49% are increasingly using tablets, work related mobile device use by lawyers remains limited to checking email (95%) only.

This is surprising. The ABA Legal Technology Survey shows that lawyers, like the rest of us, use mobile devices increasingly frequently in their personal lives. For example, camera (used by 66% of legal smartphone users), GPS/Maps (77.5% of legal smartphone users), Instant messaging /Chat (44% of legal smartphone users), and Text Messaging (73% of legal smartphone users).

In addition, though lawyers regularly download apps to their mobile devices for personal use (as reference, by October 2014, 85 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store²), the majority of lawyers have never downloaded a legal-specific app (57%) or a business app (55%) to their smartphone or tablet. This highlights a significant Legal Mobility Disconnect. Most lawyers surveyed are failing to use their mobile devices to their fullest potential for work.

Why is this and what will it take to reverse this trend? Security, cost and complexity are the most often cited barriers to mobile adoption in studies of mobile enterprise adoption³. These are good reasons why lawyers have been reluctant to embrace mobility for their work.

However, there is another critical reason for the “Legal Mobility Disconnect” that has yet to be discussed. That is usability / ease of use. Since the mobile computing revolution began in 2007 with the arrival of the iPhone, we have become very sophisticated and discerning mobile users. We are quick to embrace new capabilities that are truly valuable and are easy and intuitive to use. Until this is true, new capabilities remain niche and unused, embraced only by the most geeky early adopter users.

What do we mean by usability / ease of use in a legal context? Well, we have a lot to say on this topic that we will share in blog posts to come. In addition, we are working hard to deliver a new mobile app designed specifically for lawyers that addresses this problem.

Please stay tuned – there is a more coming soon on the Legal mobility disconnect.

– Matt

1. ABA Techreport 2014 – Mobile Technology by Tom Mighell.
2. Statista Mobile Internet & Apps Portal – October 2014.
3. Fierce Mobile IT, IBM CIO Survey.

Mobility for Lawyers – File Access is Key

iphone 6 in hand V2With 91% of lawyers using smartphones¹, Legal IT professionals are deploying solutions to expand mobile productivity at their firms. Here are three tips for mobile prosperity in 2015.

1. Files for the win.
Lawyers are all about billing. Their billable work is frequently related to electronically stored docs: contracts, briefs, and supporting research. Make sure that your mobile solution provides your lawyers with secure mobile access to their files.

The challenge is that files are stored in an array of repositories. Most often files are stored on-premises in a Document Management (DM) system such as WorkSite. Files may also be stored on-premises in SharePoint or Windows/CIFS file shares. At some firms, files may be stored in NetDocuments, which is a growing cloud-hosted DM. Use of public cloud solutions like Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive for file sharing is less common.²

Wherever your firm stores its files, from WorkSite to OneDrive, make sure that your lawyers can access their files from smartphones and tablets. A lawyer needs to be able to quickly find a file, review it, then to email or share the file, along with pertinent advice, to the client.

2. User experience will make it or break it.
If you work in legal technology, you are well-familiar with this dynamic. Lawyers have high standards. Consumer apps are easy and intuitive. Lawyers want the same at work. If your mobility solution does not provide an experience which is on par with consumer apps it won’t be adopted. A single workspace app with email, files, DM, SharePoint, calendar, and contacts is ideal.

Be sure to include lawyers in your trial. Poor user experience is the leading cause of failure of enterprise mobile apps.³ There’s precious little worse than deploying a solution which becomes shelfware.

3. Keep it simple.
The world has changed. Buying physical hardware is old school. Your mobility solution should not rely on proprietary servers. If it is to be deployed on-premises, look for a solution based on Virtual Machines, HTTPS, Exchange, HTML5, that is, infrastructure which you use today. Standard IT infrastructure will keep your costs and maintenance efforts low. If your firm is ready for a cloud-hosted mobility solution, that is often the simplest way to proceed.

At Mobile Helix we specialize in mobile applications which make it easy for legal teams to be productive from smartphones and tablets. If you are exploring ways to provide mobility to your lawyers we would be happy to discuss your needs and how we might be able to help you.

–Maureen

Twitter: @mobilehelix

1. ABA TECHREPORT 2014.

2. Recent ILTA data indicates that 15% of law firms use Dropbox for large file sharing. This figure was down in 2014 from 2013.

3. Kony Enterprise Mobility Survey.

Mobile File Sharing – It’s About More Than the Cloud

Credit: Viktor Hanacek

Credit: Viktor Hanacek

You’ve been in this situation. You prepare for a client meeting or for court. You’ve got digital copies of all of the documents that you will need. Until you don’t. While you are in transit you get a message which changes things. You will need a few more files, but you have no mobile file sharing from your smartphone or tablet.

Files. After mobile access to email, files are the medium which we most need on the fly. We swap them with colleagues. We prepare and send docs to clients, who send them back and ask for changes. We change them, save them, and send them back.

It’s a tremendous productivity boost to have mobile file sharing from our smartphones and tablets.

Here is the challenge for IT. Where are the files which employees need to share from their smartphones stored?

Wait, you say. Isn’t this simple? Aren’t files all moving to the Cloud?

No, not in all cases. And definitely not in the near-term. While file storage in the Cloud is growing, there are many sectors and companies which won’t migrate to the Cloud for many years, if ever. Gartner’s 2013 CIO Survey1 found that 28% of CIOs expect to source all critical applications and operations via the Cloud by 2016, and 55% expect to do so by 2020. On the other hand, this means that 45% of CIO’s do not expect to source via the Cloud by 2020. While a significant portion of companies can move to the Cloud, for others it’s a more complex matter.

By some estimates, 20-30% of all file storage may never migrate to the Cloud. The Everest Group, in their Cloud Adoption Survey 20132, found that 21% of surveyed enterprises have no plan to migrate collaboration and content management systems to the Cloud.

Law firms, financial institutions, and other regulated industries will, in many cases, not be able to meet security and confidentiality requirements with Cloud storage. Amongst other issues, the concern that governments may require Cloud storage services to release files to the government is a major deterrent to Cloud-based file sharing at firms with highly sensitive data.

The reality is that file storage is undergoing a major transition which will last for many years. Some legal and financial firms do store certain classes of files, for example, those used for training, in Cloud storage. In the ILTA/Inside Legal 2014 Technology Purchasing Survey3, 35% of participants reported that they had purchased Cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox, Box, ShareFile or OneDrive) in the last 12 months. However, only 17% plan to make Cloud storage purchases in the next 12 months. A wholesale conversion to Cloud storage is not in the works in the legal sector. At many firms, files will remain on-premises, behind the firm firewall, for years to come.

What this means is that mobile solutions must support sharing of files stored in a myriad of repositories, both on-premises and in the Cloud. Files may be stored in Windows shares, SharePoint, or WorkSite on-premises, or in NetDocuments, OneDrive, Box, or Dropbox in the Cloud. Files may be on-premises this quarter and be migrated to Box next quarter. To the mobile professional, where the files are stored must be transparent. All that matters to the user is that file sharing on a mobile device is fast and easy. Therefore, IT needs one mobility solution which lets mobile users share files no matter where they are stored.

–Maureen

  1. Gartner CIO Agenda Report 2013, p. 8; http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/cio/pdf/cio_agenda_insights2013.pdf
  2. Everest Group Cloud Adoption Survey 2013, p. 9; http://www.everestgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-Enterprise-Cloud-Adoption-Survey.pdf
  3. 2014 International Legal Technology Association/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey, p.6; http://insidelegal.typepad.com/files/2014/08/2014_ILTA_InsideLegal_Technology_Purchasing_Survey.pdf