Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, MashUps, IM, Text Messages, Social Networks and More)

More live blogging from the ILTA Conference. . .
Collaboration technologies help promote information sharing, efficiency, cost reduction and can provide competitive advantages. How does the legal environment deal with the information overload and the security of confidential information escaping the realm of the organization? What aspects of legal information need to be considered to help determine how collaboration tools should be utilized in the legal world (and when they should not)? What policies must be in place to protect the shared information?.

  • Tom Mighell - Fios
  • Dennis Kennedy - MasterCard Worldwide
My Notes:

The internet changes everything.  Collaboration is no longer optional. What are you doing?

Mapping the Current Collaboration Landscape:
  • News and Communication
  • Working Together
  • Social Networking and Web 2.0
  • Key: How Are We Moving Beyond Email as a Platform? [See Luis Suarez -]
Collaboration is about working together. Lawyers need to share documents inside the firm.

A fair amount of the session was on the basics of collaboration tools and social networking tools. (Tom claimed that LinkedIn is more robust than Facebook as a social networking tool. I do not agree. LinkedIn may be more widely used by lawyers, but is has much less functionality.)

They moved on to active versus passive collaboration tools and enhanced workflow. Tom thinks we are moving toward more project management.

Loss of Control, Security and Ethics are the three big legal issues with collaboration tools.  Attorneys are taught to control the document drafting. Wikis and Google Docs take a away drafting control. (Personally, I do not think anyone should be thinking about collaboratively drafting documents with adverse parties.)

Tom shared some horror stories about cloud computing. I countered that firms have just as much downtime and network problems. (If not more!) You do need to focus and have policy for dealing with document retention and discovery issues.

Collaboration tools do pose security issues. Dennis ran through a few issues.

Tom turned to ethical issues and the lack of opinions and law on the ethical implications of collaboration tools and web 2.0. There was an ABA many years ruling that email can be confidential client communication.  The other rulings are on document metadata. At least one state has ruled that lawyers need to be aware that documents have metadata and that the accidental release of information in document metadata will have ethical implications.

They moved on to striking the balance between risks and benefits. Dennis opined that if telephones came out today, most firms would ban them. (People would waste their time on the phone, they would talk to friends and family. . . )

IT departments need to allow innovation. The ways we work and communication have evolved and will continue to evolve.

You do need to define and implement appropriate policies. Doing nothing is a bad option. You need to channel appropriate behaviors. Attorneys will find work-arounds to avoid the technology policies. Attorneys want to get their work done. 

Looking into the future, Tom sees two things impacting these tools. One is the high price of gas.  Maybe there will be more video conferencing and collaboration because it is too expensive to travel. The second is using the internet as a platform.  Dennis thinks clients may start driving the use of these collaboration tools.

Download the session materials.

My ILTA Schedule

1 comment:

  1. I can not agree more. We work with all types of clients, but recently have seen a spike in our business within the legal space.

    Lawyers as a rule of thumb have been unwilling to embrace this collaborative technology because no one understood how secure the repository really was. Now that the security questions have been answered, the legal industry is starting to look for more efficient way to manage practices and cases.

    The legacy systems are going the way of the dinosaur. They are too expensive and to cumbersome to operate. They require much to much "data" to index the files. The more difficult is it to use...the more people won't use it.

    Clients are starting to seek us out because we offer a secure, reliable, high speed, cost effective web portal for firms and their clients to collaborate. None of the documents / data ever leaves the secure environment.

    This is an exciting time to be working within the technology arena.


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