G. Burgess Allison, the Technical Editor of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine since 1986 and fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, has cited blogs as spectacular new technology for lawyers. Burgess’ views are set out in an excellent article in this month’s ABA Law Practice magazine.
Burgess notes that the tech companies are not cow-towing to the wealthy lawyers like years gone by ($10,000 IBM mag card writer – we had one) but looking to generation X-ers who are consuming technology in the form of video games and sending messages via cell phones and other Internet devices.
But Burgess points out some of this technology marketed for consumers can be used by lawyers in a big way. He asks: “And have you seen blogs yet? Described as “Web publishing for the rest of us,” blogs are prepackaged Web environments that make it trivially easy to put content on the Internet.”
He hits the nail on the head when it comes to lawyer blogs in saying:
No technical experience necessary. Millions of bloggers have created a massive blogosphere in which just about anyone with an opinion seems to have a blog. Why do we care? Not so we can join the populist blogmania. No, we want the technology to communicate: with our clients, our colleagues, everyone on the project team.
Burgess goes on to talk about where technology similar to blogs is taking us.
The breakthrough is the idea of prepackaged environments that can be configured and used with almost no technical experience whatsoever. The Big Idea is to use these technologies to improve our projects and delivery of legal work product. The Next Steps are the so-called collaboration products, content management, hosted intranets and hosted extranets.
Imagine a part of your Web site that’s set up for a specific client or project – complete with all the matter documents and source materials, a calendar, a space for announcements, a space for discussions, work flows, version control. Now imagine that you can set the whole thing up in just a half hour – with nothing but your browser, a credit card and an idea.
Burgess says “Five years from now, if your law office can’t set up a collaboration space for a complex matter at the drop of a hat, with online access to documents and work spaces, your clients will look for someone who can.”
I think it is going to happen a heck of a lot sooner than that. Blog software like Movable Type properly set up by a developer knowing Web standards and a little coding will put these types of collaboration systems together at pennies on the dollars as compared to the large technology companies soaking large law firms today. We’re already offering this type of application to our clients at lexBlog.
Best of all Burgess tells us who is going to bring this technology to lawyers – the innovators.
Who’s gonna’ help you with all of this? Microsoft and Lotus have some promising products, but their old-school drink-the-Kool-Aid mentality is wearing thin. Watch the bloggers and the collaboration hosters. Look for the crowds and the buzz. Keep an open mind and expect the best. And look for Law Practice magazine to light the way. Now more than ever, we have to depend on the trailblazers and innovators to show us the opportunities. For 30 years, that’s been our stock in trade.
No wonder Burgess has been viewed as a law technology guru for years. This is a great article with a lot of forsight.