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Trends in outhosted services for law firms

Stephen ParryIt struck me today that with over three years of operations under our belts at Virtual Practices™ and as a pioneer in the market the time seems right to reflect on our experiences and the trends we are seeing in outsourced business processes and Software as a Service (SaaS) for law firms.

Things have moved on since 2007. We no longer need to explain the concept of the outhosted software model and our unique legal cashiering service, as we did when we started out. There is growing market understanding and acceptance that you don’t have to run IT in-house and that Internet accessed services offer a very secure, cost-efficient way of managing client matters, the practice, security and business continuity.

Looking back at the Legal IT Leaders Think Tank

Legal IT Professionals was media partner to Chilli IQ’s Legal IT Leaders Think Tank held at The Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London on 18th and 19th May. Joanna Goodman reports from the event.

The Grange St Paul’s Hotel is obviously the current favourite for legal IT events in London as I attended ILTA INSIGHT here on 27th April, but I am certainly not complaining about spending another day at this elegant and well-equipped venue.

The Legal IT Leaders Think Tank was a smaller event aimed at the decision makers in legal IT. Jenny Katrivesis and her team put together an interesting selection of presentations and discussions addressing major strategic considerations and current hot topics, notably e-discovery, cloud computing, legal process outsourcing as well as sessions led by sponsoring organisations Hubbard One, Mimecast and Elite.

Could the BP Oil Spill Lead to an e-Discovery Disaster?

As oil from the BP spill continues to spread into the Gulf waters, the eDiscovery scenario for the company continues to expand and worsen as well.  BP has already agreed to take full responsibility for the fallout of this catastrophe, which is one of the most epic environmental debacles…ever.

On May 19, the Associated Press reported in an article that “an attorney is asking a federal judicial panel to quickly consolidate more than 100 lawsuits filed against BP and other companies responsible for the massive Gulf oil spill.  Louisiana lawyer Daniel Becnel says legal chaos could break out in five Gulf Coast states if the lawsuits aren't combined. Becnel has asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Washington to quickly reconsider whether to order the cases consolidated.  The panel has indicated it will not decide until July.”

Workshare and Office 2010

Last week I attended a Workshare user group event down at Herbert Smith’s offices in London. If you’re a Workshare customer I can say that (apart from Herbies meeting rooms being far too hot even with the aircon on) the user group is worth attending. It was a good mix of user feedback, product direction and case study and definitely not too heavy on the sales.

The point of this post though is to look at a couple of interesting products on the horizon. Both in my opinion take Workshare up against vendors that traditionally haven’t occupied the same space in Legal IT.

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Outlook 2010

Yesterday was the official launch of Office 2010 and it looks like this is the year of Office. And that’s Office from Microsoft not the “Open” kind as some people would have predicted.

A lot of law firms I guess thought about Office 2007, but due to one thing or another (one big one I guess being the recession) stuck with Office 2003. But now on the back of what will probably be a mass shift to Windows 7 it’ll be Office 2010 that joins the party (the show of hands in yesterday’s Workshare user group backs me up on this).

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Best Practices to Retaining Top IT Talent in the Legal Industry

Geoff ZoddaOf all the major professional industries, the legal industry has one of the highest turnover rates universally. This trend can especially be seen in the Information Technology Groups within many of the top 250, and even mid-sized, law firms around the world. Reasons for such a high incidence of personnel change in Legal IT departments include: aggressive recruitment from competition, the allure of vertical growth opportunities by joining another firm, the marketing of firms known for their organizational stability, the ability to join a consulting group or even open their own IT consulting firm, and the appeal of moving to firms who are forward-thinking with their technology. In the relentless pursuit of acquiring the best candidates in the market, new opportunities are dangled in front of top talent on a weekly basis, which begs the question: Why would an individual pass up on an exciting, new opportunity to stay in their current role?

2010 eDiscovery horizon

Bob TennantWith the explosion of electronically stored information (ESI) over the last year, there is no question that organisations will continue to grapple with the concept of information risk throughout 2010.  The UK’s increasingly stringent regulatory environment has already picked up steam during Q1 following the ongoing recall issues faced by Toyota, and with the FSA’s latest insider trading investigation gathering momentum it’s clear that the situation is only set to intensify.  Add to this concern the increased adoption of new technologies such as Web 2.0 tools, cloud computing, unified communications and virtualisation within the organisation and the eDiscovery landscape faces a unique set of challenges that will undoubtedly keep legal professionals working at full capacity for the foreseeable future.

Backups – that dull bit of IT that someday you wish you’d done!

Jason PlantEveryone who has ever lost data from their computer knows the importance of backups and for a law firm (no matter what size) it’s critical. I don’t suppose there is much point in me outlining the detail of why? But if you are interested in a good summary of why backup is a good idea try this site.

Also don’t fall into the trap of assuming that electronic data is not as safe and so keep everything as a piece paper. More often than not electronic information is just as safe (if not more so) if looked after. Take a look at this story as to why a printout in an offsite facility is not necessarily that safe!

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Generation Y trainees to shake up Legal and Legal IT

We’ve been away this Easter weekend to visit my wife’s family and whilst out yesterday I happened to get into a conversation with an ex-trainee of a Big Law firm. As I got on to explaining that I worked in the IT dept of a rival firm it was interesting to hear his questions and thoughts on Legal IT.


It left me thinking that anyone waiting for the current tech savvy trainees to give us Legal IT professionals an easier time ought to stop reading this post now as I’m about to depress you!

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Four technology observations based on the bio of a speaker at the upcoming Interact Conference

Rees MorrisonOne of the speakers at Mitratech’s upcoming Interact Conference,is Libby Troughton, Senior Manager, Legal IT, at The Home Depot. Since the conference doesn’t take place until May 16-19, my observations are based on Troughton’s bio in the program materials.

A - “Troughton directed a multi-year, multi-million dollar project for the custom development and deployment of web-based matter management solution for the legal and compliance departments and 110+ outside counsel law firms; including interfaces to electronic billing, third party claims administrator system, litigation support and content management.” For a legal department of that size and both the scale and complexity of its software solutions, it takes a skilled person, dedicated to the projects, to implement them successfully. To spend several million dollars on such a program is not unheard of.

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Burke covers ABA TechShow

Burke covers ABA TechShowBurke reports from ABA TechShow

Christy Burke visited last week’s ABA TechShow, the annual legal technology conference of the American Bar Association. During the show, Christy interviewed a couple of legal IT leaders and asked them about their companies, new products and impressions of the conference.

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