Our columnist Jeffrey Brandt got inspired and articulated the essence of legal IT training in a beautiful short poem.
For want of a trainer the skill was lost.
For want of a skill, the application was lost.
For want of an application the document was lost.
For want of document the matter was lost.
For want of a matter the client was lost.
For want of a client the law firm was lost.
And all for the want of a trainer.
The Confession, or Well... It Could have Happened
I have written a fair amount of late about law firm information security. I know what many law firms' security is like and it's not pretty. I want to see law firm security improve. Not just a few selective biglaw firms, but all firms, down into the AmLaw 200 and below. I want to see initiatives like ILTA's LegalSEC continue forward, because "championing an initiative to deliver a set of best practices and a framework that firms can adapt to their needs to build or enhance their information assurance/security programs" is something the industry desperately needs. Right now law firms are the weakest link the chain with their clients.
Note to readers: this is a column, not a news story
I've written a fair amount of late about law firm information security. I have engaged with many clients and former colleagues on the subject. But even so, I was surprised when I opened the express mail envelope complete with the infamous 1060 West Addison return address (Was the sender also a Blues Brothers fan?). It contained a short, unsigned handwritten note and a printout of an internal memo sent via email. I thought it was somewhat odd as I held the physical copy, but as I read it the memo, the reason why was soon made clear.
I agreed with the anonymous source that there was value in sharing it with the larger community. I scanned and OCR'ed the printout and eliminated the names and other pieces of information that might identify the firm. Right now I don't want to be the one to "out" the firm.
The Horrible Law Firm CIO doesn't listen to their staff when they present concerns. He does listen for ideas and suggestion that he can then claim as his own when he talks to his boss.
The Horrible Law Firm CIO is always right. She deflects failure and problems to her staff and soaks up all the glory and praise. After all it's the head of the department that should get all the glory for the works of the team. And if something goes wrong - well someone on the team messed up.
In the beginning things were simple. Law firms used the Henry Ford approach to mobile devices, "You can have any color as long as it's black." There was one model BlackBerry on one service provider and you had to justify your worth to have the device. The device did one thing and it did it well. The law firm paid for the device and the data service. Things progressed to multiple BlackBerry models on multiple carriers with both voice and data services. Options for who paid what and what was reimbursed started to appear. Additional applications and features converged to make smart phones. Companies like Good came along to muddy the waters. Then this guy named Steve Jobs had some revolutionary visions on how mobile technology should work. More and more piled on and today we have a consumer revolution called BYOD.
It started with a tweet from Jason Plant and a response from me. Then Ben Schorr joined in. There were a few others who got involved as well. We were chatting about the use of mobile devices and the way some law firms have deployed them. Some firms have connected the devices first and are now attempting to deal the with policy, procedure and security issues. I added the hashtag #bassackwards to somewhat summarize the conversation. Policy, procedure and security issues should always be addressed first. It is the responsibility of the CIO to say "no" or "wait" until those critical steps have been hashed out.
A spotlight on Law Firm Security
As the rest of the world and industries tighten their security, it places law firms in the unenviable position of being viewed as the weakest link. So prevalent is the view, that the FBI convened a meeting of the top 200 law firms in New York City to deal with the increase in law firm cyber attacks. Clients, who read the early February Bloomsberg Businessweek article, saw Mary Galligan, head of the cyber division in the New York City office of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation quoted as referring to law firms as “much, much easier quarry,” for hackers. Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, had a four-part guest post on Forbes.com describing the hack of “a large law firm in New York.”
Law firm technology in 2065
Welcome to the global law firm of DLA, Watson, Siri & Wal-Mart. The year is 2065. I am Stevie, a Mark 3 Siri assistant. It is my task to acquaint you with the history and functioning of the firm.
Many things have changed in the legal industry since the end of the first decade of 2000. As a law firm this has forced us to review all aspects of our personnel, our processes and our technology. We practice in all areas of law around the world.
I have an issue with the term “legal project management.” The more it gets used the more irritated I seem to get. Don’t get me wrong, I love project management. I use project management. I have spent considerable time and effort over the years to convince my bosses of the value of project management. I’ve tried to impart project management skills to all my staffs to benefit them and the firm in smaller projects too. I have had projects successful, in large part, because of the efforts of a dedicated project manager. I also know that law firms can benefit from professional project management in many areas.
Imagine there’s no infrastructure...
You’ve moved to embrace utility computing in the cloud. Your server room has been turned into a beautiful, tranquil Zen garden where you and your staff can go for quiet contemplation of the universe.
Imagine there’s no PC hardware to refresh...
You’ve moved to a virtualized client and your employees are choosing and buying their own equipment. Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X/iOS, Google Chrome OS and Open Source Unix-based operating systems sit side by side in total harmony.
(or not everyone can use goats to mow the lawn)
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking and attending the inaugural Green Matters: Green Cities, Business and Beyond conference in New Orleans. Let me say at the outset, it was a wonderful and inspiring event. The best thing I liked about it was most of the other speakers’ very practical attitudes towards greening.
(or half an upgrade is worse than no upgrade at all)
There has been a lot of discussion recently among my colleagues about the timing and value of upgrading to Office 2010. That discussion has mostly centered around the Office suite’s new and improved functionality, the features, the improved interface, etc. I’m picking on Microsoft, but my points hold true for any kind of upgrade.
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