When it comes to technology, lawyers are no different from the general public — gravitating towards the free and easy, no-brainer products like gmail or dropbox. Yet often, these tools aren’t necessarily optimal security-wise for serving clients. But rather than scold or deride lawyers who use these tools, most of the speakers at this past weekend’s ABA Techshow (at least the ones I heard) to their credit, proposed safer alternatives – like Google Apps (a $50/year service) in lieu of Gmail or Viivo.com, an encryption service as a supplement to Dropbox.
But security is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to law firm technology. With a product like Dropbox, my major gripe was never the potential for security breaches, but rather that Dropbox is far too limited to serve as a client portal or practice management platform – which is how many firms use it.
Dropbox is a file synching service – a way to ensure that users can access the same files across their phone, laptop and other devices. That was the reason Dropbox was created – and that, plus acting as a cloud-based backup is what Dropbox does best. But Dropbox isn’t, in my view, an optimal way to share and collaborate on documents with clients. It’s impossible to keep track of different document versions and you can’t search for documents with full text search or leave comments or notes which can be problematic in a fast moving case with drafts flying back and forth between multiple users.
This is the problem with technology out of context. You learn the tools but don’t often see them in action or take the time to discuss how they might fit into your practice. I don’t fault ABA Techshow for that deficiency – there are simply too many attendees to allow for that kind of personalized, bespoke attention. Still, it’s important to remember that when it comes to technology, mileage may vary depending upon your practice.