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Joanna Goodman tells about TheKnowList and replies to comments on her previous column

Although it is only a few weeks since my last column, I thought I’d let LITP readers know that August sees the launch of TheKnowList, the first independent directory for the legal IT community featuring leading law firms and suppliers across all product categories. I have to confess an interest as I am the editor of this essential – and stylish – A5 reference guide which is currently being distributed to UK law firms. To order your free copy – wherever you are – go to www.theknowlist.com.

TheKnowList offers a comprehensive directory of legal technology products and services. The editorial section comprises 21 features highlighting the key technologies that support modern law firms of all sizes, ranging from major infrastructure systems to flexible SaaS solutions.

 

There are Q&As with suppliers and IT directors and opinion pieces from leading experts. So as well as being an indispensible hard copy resource – a ready reference to the movers and shakers in legal IT – it offers some interesting reading on what’s hot in legal IT. UK legal IT practitioners will be especially interested in TheKnowList30, a list (in no particular order) of the 30 people to know in legal IT. 

TheKnowList’s dynamic, interactive website offers up-to-date news and views, with a news feed from Legal IT Professionals, as well as additional unique resources ranging from RendezVu, a peer-to-peer disaster recovery support system, to networking groups and even a golf club!

TheKnowList Awards take place in January 2010. In keeping with the current climate, the awards have been streamlined and much of the process has been moved online: there are only ten categories. The main difference between these awards and their predecessors is that the shortlists are peer voted. So it’s up to you, rather than the judges, to decide who will be on the shortlist by nominating and voting online – a process that will surely put paid to the online gripes of favouritism posted anonymously following previous awards.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the valid and informed comments discussing my July column. One mentioned legal services outsourcing, which has been boosted by economic and financial considerations. And it’s not just affecting routine work. The UK government recently outsourced a major tax litigation project to Lovells – the first time HM Revenue & Customs has outsourced an entire case to an external firm. Here too, supplier relationships are critical to the success of the close working partnerships which underpin successful outsourcing arrangements.

Cloud security is a genuine and serious concern for all organisations that handle sensitive information, but this doesn’t seem to have stemmed the tide of information flowing to and from the cloud. The fact that Google Docs and Microsoft Office 2010 offer cloud-based applications may well signal that SaaS is an increasingly popular option for all sorts of users although take-up has been relatively slow among law firms. However, as Dennis Kennedy emphasised in his excellent ABA Journal article (recommended on LITP two weeks ago) client confidentiality is critical. It is not a matter of simply trusting your information to the cloud; rather like outsourcing, you need to find a provider offering the appropriate level of security and reliability and do your due diligence. It is equally important to identify any highly sensitive information that you may wish to retain in-house.

Equally, you need to decide when it will boost productivity and client service/experience to have applications that are accessible from any internet connection. For example, I recently attended the launch of Toucari Origin’s templates on demand. Templates, of course, do not raise the same security issues as some other cloud services as they do not contain any information. The content is added after they are downloaded. In fact, once you have downloaded the template, you can work offline. The main benefit is consistency. Every document created by the smallest outpost and every home-based worker can present a consistent brand image to clients and other stakeholders without having to store templates and other resources on their laptops or home computers.

The answer is surely to adjust your strategy to utilise new services and resources as they become available in the way that best suits your business – its profile, its priorities – and your clients’ requirements. It’s no good jumping on the virtual bandwagon without closely examining all the strategic considerations. It is equally important not be left behind. This means being well informed and up to date about the latest developments and what your peers are doing. It may or may not be right for you at the moment, but it’s worth taking a look as the cloud is here to stay.

 

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