A Fitter Bit for Lawyers?

shocklawOne of the biggest stories at the recent South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) concerned wearable technology. This technology comes in the form of accessories (e.g., wristbands, watches, rings, pendants, bags, etc.) and clothing that collect and process data or provide other functionality. Most folks are familiar with Fitbit, Google Glass and the Pebble watch, but if you want a quick introduction to some of the latest devices, consider a few of the wearables described recently by New York Magazine:

  • Nymi – This bracelet can identify you based on the unique rhythm of your heart beat. If you are wearing the bracelet it can authenticate you and give you access to your smartphone, computer and, theoretically any account that requires a pin or password.
  • Skully – This voice-controlled motorcyle helmet incorporates augmented-reality tools like a rearview camera, GPS, and music.
  • The 314 Purse – This handbag uses “MIT fuel cell technology” to charge a cell phone 14 times. Why 314? Those are the the first three digits of pi.

We expect trendy tech at SXSW. But if you are like me, the last place you expect to find trendy tech is in a law firm. So imagine my surprise when I received a press release from the Janders Dean management consulting firm stating that they were bringing to market the first ever wearable device specifically for lawyers:

Janders Dean is pleased to announce the launch of the ShockLaw© wearable time management technology solution for law firms and lawyers – featuring the Bill-IT© bracelet with LawyerShock© vibration technology, the ShockLaw© Server, and associated mobile device monitoring apps.

The press release goes on to recite some of the device’s remarkable features:

  • The device “integrates wirelessly with the firm’s practice management or time capture products.”
  • “Not only does the innovative solution allow for tracking of a lawyer’s movements, the software integration with the firm’s time capture system allows firm management to be informed when an individual lawyer (or an entire Practice Group) has not reached their billable hour targets for a set period of time.”
  • “The individual lawyers also benefit from the inbuilt vibration motor. This sends an alert through to the wearer every six minutes to remind them to record their time, while also sending further and more intense alerts through if they have fallen behind in their billable hours.”
  • “Sensors within the wearable component of the Bill-IT© bracelet also alert management if the user is attempting to remove the device, or if inactivity of the user for a determined period of time is detected.”

To be perfectly honest, as I read through the features list, I found myself grateful that I had left the full-time practice of law before the advent of ShockLaw. The monitoring permitted by the device seemed to me to go far beyond what lawyers already deal with as they struggle with the realities of being on call 24/7. But perhaps I have an old-fashioned and sentimental view of the profession of law. Justin North of Janders Dean appears much more pragmatic about the realities of the business of law in the 21st century:

`Interest from law firm management in the product has been overwhelming.’ said North, `It shows that firms are truly embracing emerging legal technologies, in an increasingly competitive market, with a clear desire to proactively increase lawyer productivity‘ he concluded.

While I applaud the pioneering spirit (and sheer audacity) of this device and its makers, I must admit I was relieved to note that the date on the press release was April 1. And, if I had any doubts about the implications of that date, the following announcement in the press release gave me the confirmation I needed:

It is expected that the new release of the ShockLaw© platform (due out in late December 2014) will contain functionality which can automatically disable a lawyer’s ability to exit the building or access refreshments if they have not entered their time as required, or if they are falling behind their expected billable hours.

Kudos to Janders Dean for their brilliant celebration of April Fools’ Day!


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