Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Practice Management - Leveraging Legal Technology

George Rudoy, Director of Global Practice Technology and Information Services at Shearman and Sterling LLP
Michelle Mahoney, Director Applied Legal Technology at Mallesons Stephen Jaques
Kelly Inglese, Director Litigation Support Services at McCarthy T├ętrault LLP

What is Practice Management?

George's vision of practice management is the integration of knowledge management, library services, future services, conflicts and records management into practice management.

Michelle presented the Australian view of practice management. She pointed out that the Australian, New Zealand and South African markets are incredibly competitive. She is evaluated on profitability; not revenue generation. She points out that lawyers in a leadership position need to accept that law firms are a business and need to be run like a business. [I think part of the growth of practice management comes from lawyers wanting to offload the business side of law so they can focus more on the practice of law.]

George is struggling with where knowledge management sits in a law firm structure. He likes the idea of bundling it into practice management. Then it is better integrated as a full suite of services available to practicing attorneys and groups of attorneys.

The concept is interesting. Largely, should the firm be divided between practice and practice support? Perhaps practice area managers should be equipped with being a point of contact being able to create solutions across administrative departments and groups. Of course, that requires practice area managers with a long skill set: being comfortable with marketing, technology, finance, knowledge management, records and conflicts. Effectively, practice area managers could be a one-stop for the attorneys to get solutions to help their practice.

George's paradigm in moving from increased coordination, to improved productivity and efficiency, to strengthen competitive advantage, to enhanced customer value, to growing business profitability. It is not the technology, it is the solution around the technology that delivers value.

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