IT functions supporting law departments and law firms share some of the same annoyances

Two points struck me from findings in ILTA’s 2009 Technology Survey, at 42 of law firms: one about the shared challenges of providing technology to lawyers – inside or outside – and the other about overhead support for IT that legal departments often enjoy free of charge.

The law firms that responded to the ILTA survey chose from a list of the “top 3 biggest technology issues or annoyances within your firm.” Issues ranked three through five frustrate managers in-house, I suspect, as much as they do managers of technology support in law firms: “High software maintenance costs” (cited by about a third of the respondents), “User acceptance to change” (27%), and “Managing expectations (users and management)” (27%). Likewise, issues eight and nine, out of a total of 21, also afflict both sides: “Meeting needs for and/or getting participating in training” and “High cost of technology.”

The top annoyance, by far, was “E-mail management,” selected by slightly more than half of the law firm respondents. The fifth ranked was “Keeping up with storage needs” and the next was “Keeping up with new versions of software.” Rarely do general counsel have to concern themselves with these afflictions since corporate IT handles them.

Stepping back, the overlap of concerns inside and out are substantial as to technology resources but some of the challenges and costs bear down much more on law firms – and are ultimately reflected in billing rates – than on law departments that pay the bills.

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