My Shingle

Learning About the Future of Law From Our Kids

by Carolyn Elefant on February 2, 2010 · 8 comments

in Cloud Technology, Tech & Web

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Yesterday, my thirteen year old came home from school and announced that her science teacher now requires all of the students to keep their materials – class notes, homework, handouts and the like – on Dropbox.  And so, my daughter and her classmates spent the most of the class uploading documents from their computers (probably half the kids have laptops, while the rest use school machines) or transferring them from GoogleDocs.  My ten year old got in on the conversation as well, asking what Dropbox was and how it differed from GoogleDocs (which the younger one occasionally uses).

After seeing what my daughters are learning about online document management, I cringe when I see many lawyers starting out today investing in clunky desktop management tools.   Maybe desktop tools are a “fine for now, fine for a true solo” solution.  But what if starting solos want to grow their practice and  bring on staff or associates down the line?   How will they train today’s younger workers to adapt to immobile, complicated desk top systems when these workers, like my daughters, have been reared on cloud based tools?

It’s not just the tomorrow’s work force that is more at ease with cloud technology, but tomorrow’s clients as well.  A Gartner Report released at the beginning of 2010 found that by by 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets:

Several interrelated trends are driving the movement toward decreased IT hardware assets, such as virtualization, cloud-enabled services, and employees running personal desktops and notebook systems on corporate networks.

Just as many clients’ use of Microsoft Word forced lawyers to dump their beloved Word Perfect, clients’ increased reliance on cloud programs may also necessitate a transition.

Personally, I’m not one for recommending big fancy business plans when you start a law firm.  But with technology changing so rapidly, lawyers need to look down the road and think not just about what works now, but what makes sense for how the work place will look when our children enter it.

For previous post on cost benefit analysis of cloud computing, see:  Comparing SAAS to Conventional LPM Tools: Metrics Matter.

  • http://legallylatinainla.blogspot.com Celeste

    Carolyn,
    Yet again I am sitting here saying “Amazing!” out loud after reading one of your posts.
    I am a third year law student who just recently decided to start my solo practice right out of law school. Scary, I know! But reading your MyShingle.com has helped me so much, not only with your inspiring words, but also in super useful information like this post about DropBox and your earlier post about FastCase’s iPhone app. Just in the few days I’ve been reading MyShingle.com I have learned so much, and my dream of becoming a solo right out of law school seems that much less daunting.
    Thank you!

  • http://legallylatinainla.blogspot.com Celeste

    Carolyn,
    Yet again I am sitting here saying “Amazing!” out loud after reading one of your posts.
    I am a third year law student who just recently decided to start my solo practice right out of law school. Scary, I know! But reading your MyShingle.com has helped me so much, not only with your inspiring words, but also in super useful information like this post about DropBox and your earlier post about FastCase’s iPhone app. Just in the few days I’ve been reading MyShingle.com I have learned so much, and my dream of becoming a solo right out of law school seems that much less daunting.
    Thank you!

  • Wade

    Dropbox is a great tool, and I use it frequently for personal file management. However, lawyers need to be very careful about using Dropbox in a professional environment. A few of the legal technology websites I follow have concluded that the TOS (terms of service) for Dropbox, which allow the company to freely divulge data to governmental authorities upon request, even without a warrant, would subject any attorney storing confidential client data on Dropbox to a malpractice claim.
    Yeah, cloud computing is grand and represents the future of technology, but until there is a greater assurance of security and confidentiality, attorneys need to tread carefully into this wild blue yonder.

  • Wade

    Dropbox is a great tool, and I use it frequently for personal file management. However, lawyers need to be very careful about using Dropbox in a professional environment. A few of the legal technology websites I follow have concluded that the TOS (terms of service) for Dropbox, which allow the company to freely divulge data to governmental authorities upon request, even without a warrant, would subject any attorney storing confidential client data on Dropbox to a malpractice claim.
    Yeah, cloud computing is grand and represents the future of technology, but until there is a greater assurance of security and confidentiality, attorneys need to tread carefully into this wild blue yonder.

  • http://67.225.230.212/~sh1ngl3 Carolyn Elefant

    Wade raises an important point about cloud computing. I have not investigated Dropbox’s TOS myself, but am aware of the potential controversy. I didn’t intend to suggest that Dropbox is something lawyers should use – merely referenced it to show the concept of younger people being used to cloud based software.

  • http://67.225.230.212/~sh1ngl3 Carolyn Elefant

    Wade raises an important point about cloud computing. I have not investigated Dropbox’s TOS myself, but am aware of the potential controversy. I didn’t intend to suggest that Dropbox is something lawyers should use – merely referenced it to show the concept of younger people being used to cloud based software.

  • http://www.lawyer-coach.com Debra L. Bruce

    Carolyn-
    Thank you for continuing to remind lawyers about why they can’t afford to be “Technology Turtles.” We can’t just pull into our shells and ignore how the world is changing around us. “Slow and steady” won’t win the race, unless we are racing to retirement and don’t mind our business diminishing each year.

  • http://www.lawyer-coach.com Debra L. Bruce

    Carolyn-
    Thank you for continuing to remind lawyers about why they can’t afford to be “Technology Turtles.” We can’t just pull into our shells and ignore how the world is changing around us. “Slow and steady” won’t win the race, unless we are racing to retirement and don’t mind our business diminishing each year.

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