Lee Bryant and I led a jam-packed session at LegalTech 2009 on the Five Things Every Legal Practice Should Know About Web 2.0. Lee has written a terrific post on his blog about our session. In addition, he kindly uploaded our slide deck to SlideShare:
One of the reasons I agreed to participate in this session was that I’ve begun to experience the benefits of social media in my knowledge management work and could see the great potential for its use more generally in a legal practice. There are so many things lawyers do that require the participation of others — planning and organizing throughout a matter’s life cycle, discussions with clients and other lawyers, negotiations with counter-parties, drafting legal documents, closings, post-closing compliance and clean-up, etc. What would happen if we could use Web 2.0 tools to shift these activities out of the current paradigm of expensive face-to-face meetings, ineffective conference calls held while all participants are multitasking, and asynchronous e-mail exchanges? What would change? Here are a few examples:
- Create a Wiki that could be edited and viewed in real time by all members of the team as new information emerged.
- Contrast that with the current approach of keeping the tasks and responsibilities list in a word or excel document that is periodically updated by a single editor and then e-mailed to members of the team.
- As information and decisions emerged from discussions with local counsel or specialist counsel (e.g., intellectual property, tax, etc.) record those new items in a blog that could later be tagged, sorted and searched.
- Contrast that with sending bits of information out via e-mail to other members of the team, with no assurance that these updates can be retrieved or organized later.
- At Closing, you could provide to your client an extranet that contained all the key deal documents and a compliance manual. If the manual were in the form of a Wiki, the client could update it to keep a record of compliance successes and issues.
- Contrast this with providing a “deal bible” to the client and a Word document that outlines compliance requirements.
If a few social media savvy folks were to sit in a room and really think hard about how to transform the practice of law by using Web 2.0 tools, they would undoubtedly come up with even more examples. This is just to whet your appetite and get you looking at your daily activities through a different (social media) lens. In each instance, you replace static asynchronous communication with a two-way real-time information flow. It doesn’t take much imagination to begin to realize the benefits to be gained not only in efficiency, but in the quality of life for the clients and lawyers using these tools.
What are you waiting for?