Monday, February 2, 2009

Could this finally mean the widespread adoption of technology at law firms?

Well, probably not. But this article at the NYTimes suggests that the demise of the billable hour is, if not imminent, at least more likely than it has been for a while.

I've long maintained that the billable hour promotes inefficiency and is not conducive to the long-term interests of law firms. It's nice to see that clients are actually demanding fee structures that promote efficiency (the flat fee) and reward performance (such as a flat fee plus a bonus for achieving a quick settlement).

Perhaps now, law firms will take the adoption of serious technology a little more to heart.

There is a "but" however. As I'm fond of telling my clients, it's not just the technology, it's also the workflow you build around it, and the people using it. (As our logo says - it's People Process Technology - in roughly that order.)

All the best whiz-bang technology in the world will not make you more efficient if you don't train your people on how to use it properly and haven't thought through the process that the technology is supposed to enhance.

So before any lawyers reading this rush off to buy the latest-and-greatest piece of technology, plan how it's going to fit into what your firm actually does, who will use it, and how much you're willing to spend on training.

Otherwise you'll end up with just more really cool-looking shelfware . . .

No comments: