Work From Home Checklist

Last week I created a checklist for those organizations that have not had people, at scale, work from home.  There are two lists.  The first list helps someone who has not worked from home previously checkoff that they have all the necessary resources from A-Z to do everything they would normal do at their office.  The other list helps technology teams prepare their internal systems to allow remote work.  You can find these lists here:

Law Firm Employees: Work Remote Checklist – Firm Legal and Support Staff – 3-18-2020

Law Firm Technology Teams: Work Remote Checklist – Firm Technology Admin Staff – 3-18-2020

Both Lists on One PDF: Work Remote Checklist – Firm Technology Admin Staff and Firm Legal and Support Staff – 3-18-2020

 

 

 

On the Edge of Law Firm Technology

By Joseph Raczynski

Over the previous three years at ILTA, one of the most popular sessions has been “What’s That? New and Cool Technologies”.  This year was no different.  A capacity crowd of legal technologists listened to the witty foursome of Jeffrey Brandt of PinHawk LLC, Mark Manoukian of Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter, Beau Mersereau of Fish & Richardson P.C., and Ben Weinberger with Phoenix Business Solutions.  The cast injected levity into their dialog about predictions of where technology is headed.

They focused on several areas: Windows 8, Wearable Technology, Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Digital Currencies, and The Internet of Things (IoT).

Windows 8:

The panel mentioned that Windows 8 is lightning fast.  The difference between Windows 8 and 8.1 is that in the latter, a start button was added which is key for most users.  Previously people had to hunt out where to begin and it was less intuitive.  The other key takeaway, many firms have not implemented Windows 8 for a singular reason, many vendors do not support IE11 which comes standard on the OS.

Wearable Technology:

The group cited many examples of how wearable technology will start creeping into law firms.  Ben Weinberger stated that “The NFC ring could be used to unlock doors, mobile phones, transfer information and link people.”  This could be a nonintrusive way to acclimate users to this sort of technology.  It is easy and subtle.  Others weighed in with current examples.  Disney World uses Magic Bands worn by park goers.  They are easily able to tap down for food, gift shop purchases, and unlocking their hotel room door.  The goal with wearable said Jeffrey Brandt, is that the form will be small and help establish convergence.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM):

In a statement that seemed to shock the audience, several panelists stated that they thought law firms were on the cutting edge of ECM.  Where firms are typically more conservative to adopt new technology, this is an area firms have a precise focus on organizing data into scalable structural components.

Digital Currencies:

The panel was definitely split on this topic.  Some saw the true value of having an unregulated currency while others bluntly said this was a disaster without government control.  Bitcoin dominated the discussion as the crypto-currency of choice, but Mark Manoukian mentioned a new coin called Ripples which has the endorsement of MIT.  Ultimately the panel suggested that some sort of regulation would be important for true adoption.

Internet of Things (IoT):

The Internet of Things is very popular these days.  It is essentially applying an IP address to almost everything, e.g. each light at your home, doors, and appliances.  The panel saw a great deal of opportunity here and mentioned law firm books as a great way to incorporate this type of technology.  They spoke about placing RFID chips in books to keep track of inventories.

The fast paced discussion covered a wonderful array of topics that may have a major impact on the law firm of the future.  The wearable technology discussion specifically referring to the NFC ring, seemed to strike a chord with most as something very plausible in the near future.  Lastly, it does appear that ECM will continue to evolve within the firm to become more seamless and search dynamic.

 

Should Law Firms Build Apps?

By Joseph Raczynski

On the first day of ILTA’s 2014 convention I attended a rather fascinating session.   The title was “To App or Not To App?” and focused around if it makes sense for a law firm to produce their own Apps.  The following questions were posed: Do law firm apps really do the useful things they are intended?  Do clients use them?  Is now the time to get your firm on board with creating an app, and are they worth the investment?  We entered into a discussion with three firms and how they got from the drawing board to release and lessons they learned along the way.

The panel addressed these questions by talking about three different apps they had each built.

  • Mark McCreary of Fox Rothschild LLP led the discussion on an App that they built at the firm called Data Breach 411. It is an App that “Privacy and Data Practice attorneys created to inform businesses of these state laws so they can better understand their rights, obligations and potential liability.”
  • Marika DaPron of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP discussed The ShalePlay App, which is a comprehensive resource on news and information related to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing, including the latest industry trends and updates.
  • Elyse Lazaruk of Latham & Watkins LLP discussed The Book of Jargon which was a firm written book that they turned into an App. It covers corporate and bank finance slang and terminology.

The major thrust of this session was these three apps were extremely beneficial to the firm.  They cited several reasons for the success.  The number one reason to build an App was the exposure reaped from its creation.  The App simply demonstrated significant expertise by the firm in a specialty area.  They were able to leverage this with potential clients.  In addition, the firms saw a great deal of press from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Legal Week and The American Lawyer.

Some of the major challenges that the firm’s faced with building the Apps were limited resources, having teams of attorneys collaborate with developers, and watching costs.

When asked by an attendee if the firm would consider building more Apps, the panel universally said “Absolutely!”  Based on this session and while we are in a more competitive legal landscape, it would seem to behoove firms which wish to distinguish themselves to delve into the possibility of creating their own App within their area of expertise.

Strategies for Managing Mobile Devices in Law Firms

By Joseph Raczynski

Christopher B. Hunt – Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C.
Kris Snyder – VoxMobile

 

Today at the typical law firm the onslaught of various mobile devices abound.  The firm is now confronted with requests to support a fractious market of iPhones, BlackBerries, and Androids.  Not only must they deal with devices, they also grapple with various platforms and specific (Apps) applications.   This hodge-podge environment of disparate devices can be a major challenge.  This session at ILTA explored how firms deal with mobile devices and policy.

Firms have taken three approaches to mobile device management:

  • Big Brother: The firm issues devices to users

In this scenario a firm decides to keep things simple and provide users with one device, this typically creates the least pressure on the technology group.  In the past firms chose this route because it is easiest to manage and the most secure.  However, recently this “one device” management has become increasingly difficult to sustain.  Users are demanding use of their own devices which are not supported.

  • Free-for-all: The firm allows all personal devices to be connected to the network

This typically engenders tremendous support among users as they can use any device to their liking.  The attorney is responsible for purchasing the device.  However, all other aspects are placed in the hands of the firm who is tasked with managing the multitude.  The downside is that the firm is responsible for dozens of varying platforms, operating systems and devices.  Security can be a huge concern under this “free-for-all” policy.

  • Hybrid: The firm allows for multiple devices within set limitations

This approach allows some devices to be brought in from outside, but those units are from an accepted list.  This seems to be the trend among law firms as they find more flexibility with users, thus offering them a choice.

When crafting your policy consider these lessons learned from experienced firms:

  • Understand your firm culture, i.e. would your firm support a single device approach, or is the “hybrid” a better option?
  • Does the firm have the resources to support multiple devices, their unique security, maintenance, and associated apps?
  • What happens when the user leaves the firm? Should you wipe the entire device, or just the enterprise content?
  • Treat security and manageability as the primary requirements of your policy
  • In the long run, supporting multiple devices will probably not be the best plan so attempt to find common ground without causing a mutiny among your users
  • Lastly all firms should require: passwords, encryption and time-out periods

At the end of the day, when crafting your policy for mobile devices the juggling of security, firm culture, and manageability of the devices will be the most important variables to consider.   Each of these aspects will vary depending on the firm and should be weighed and adjusted accordingly.