I got the chance to read through Roger Bonine’s IT Manager.Net blog, subtitled “Making the practice of law a little geekier.” In addition to starting to put together a list of .Net questions for Roger, I found quite a few great posts.
What’s in it for Me?” is a great summary of the areas of “friction” you will find when trying to implement a major software project at a law firm. It is especially interesting because it takes into account the IT department’s point of view on these issues.
He says:
“[Attorneys] aren’t, however, so excited about the new system that they’re anxious to sacrifice their billable time to help design it. We will be expected to do the best that we can with minimal attorney input. Then, after rollout, the (mostly) negative feedback that we receive will help shape the system to the attorneys’ individual needs. This isn’t the most efficient methodology from the IT manager’s point of view, and it isn’t always the best thing for IT morale. But it’s an almost Darwinian method of continuous improvement that gets the job done.”
The money quote:
“(Our job is to make the tools available, not to enforce usage.)”
If lawyers and IT departments spent some time deconstructing that comment and its implications, you’d see more successful projects. Roger, by the way, makes this comment wistfully and obviously appreciates the difficulties of environments where this comment is so often accurate.
From tips on finding the meaning of Microsoft error message numbers to discussion of lawyers’ fears about moving to Lexis or WestLaw web interfaces, there’s a lot of useful information from an experienced IT person who lives in the legal industry.