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Usefulness of IT applications supplied by law firms

PLCLaw Dept. Quart., Vol. 3, Jan.-March 2007 at 21, reports survey data about how a group of mostly European general counsel view technology offered for their benefit by law firms. A stacked bar chart describes seven applications according to whether they are deemed “extremely useful,” “very useful,” “useful,” “quite useful,” or “not at all useful.” Combine the two most positive ratings (extremely useful and very useful) as a positive attitude and the two most negative ratings (quite useful and not at all useful) as a negative one and here are my eyeball estimates of the percentages:

“Secure email” 40% positive and 30% negative
“Access to extranet with know-how materials” 26% positive and 35% negative
“Electronic billing and time reporting online” 25% positive and 45% negative
“Automated drafting” 20% positive and 50% negative
“Case management software” 20% positive and 50% negative
“Deal room electronic document repositories” 15% positive and 40% negative
“Project management software” 15% positive and 45% negative

My percentages are mostly visual and perhaps the “negatives” are not quite as critical as I have assumed from a presumably balanced scale of five ratings. Granting both the metrics and the interpretation, it is hard to glean much from these findings. Law departments like getting encrypted email more than any other software law firms offer? I thought secure email would be like plumbing; you take it for granted until it leaks, so why such negative vibes? The availability of knowledge management systems of firms, on the Internet, makes sense. As for the third most popular, it seems to be e-billing but the article does not explain. Document assembly is what some people might think is the meaning of “automated drafting” (See my post of Feb. 26, 2008: document assembly with 16 references.). Finally, project management software has more fans than I would have thought.

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