Apr 8 2016

Technology for the future lawyer


To kick off 2016 (where have the first three months gone!!) I thought I’d put up a post based on my recent talk at the British Legal Technology Forum in London. The talk was titled as this post and looked at some of the key challenges Legal IT have for the core technology lawyers use in their day to day work.

I started by using consumer technology to show how a simple tool can become really complicated.

Old style simple TV of the Eighties! Multiple TV channels, Multiple platforms

We started with a simple concept of a handful of TV channels.

Then we introduced digital television through satellite and multi-channel offerings, which was great initially as we had choice. But then came the competing sports channels, meaning if I want to watch all football competitions, the cricket and the boxing I needed to pay for multiple extra channel packages.

Then came the multiple delivery platforms, so I no longer can watch everything with just Sky I need Sky, Netflix, Amazon etc.

So before you knew it something simple had become a complex range of services and channel packages to watch all the TV you wanted. Posing the question:

So are we better off?

If we then play through a similar story in Legal IT we see the same complexities.

Whether it’s the choice of mobile device, do I go iPhone or Blackberry? The choice of device to work on, is the future Surface type hybrid devices or iPad Pros? Then even in the software delivery things get complicated, so do I download Outlook from the Appstore or use the desktop app or maybe I use the web app?

It’s enough to drive a lawyer mad!

Stress. Woman stressed is going crazy pulling her hair in frustration. Close-up of young businesswoman on white.

So what does the future hold?

In the talk I took a journey through the key areas for a lawyer to see how things could become simpler. How do we go from the existing, at times still very Windows XP type world, to a simpler future?


Documents are key to a lawyer and in this space Microsoft are already moving into a much simpler Office model with Office365. The ability to edit documents on different devices or on the web. Bringing mobility and allowing you access, through OneDrive, to your documents wherever you are. And the big DMS (Document Management System) providers get this, talking to the new HP  free iManage you get the feeling they understand this new world and have real plans for the direction Microsoft are going. In the shorter term they are already releasing versions of their mobility app on iOS that allows easy editing within mobile versions of Office.

NetDocuments are also aware of this and have plans for 365, they’re also in the cloud already so document access anywhere is easy.

Finally I touched on some discussions I’d had with Microsoft and their move to look at allowing document mark up using their pen technology that they have with the Surface. Imagine being able to mark up the documents with a pen and then manage them inside the .docx using track changes/comments in document review.


Here I briefly talked about the IntApp/Rekoop merger and the indication that there is a real understanding of the mobile news of lawyers, moving their technology very much into the cloud and mobile space.


Finally I talked about communications and how in the consumer world it’s simple enough for grandparents to set up and use video calls, but that also we need to be aware that there is a new wave of people entering the workplace where using a phone to talk is quite alien! A lot of law firms are using Skype for Business, some enlightened ones are actually replacing handsets off desks and really making calls and IM truly mobile.

Skyping the Grandparents

What do you mean talk?


The final section of the talk took a look at mobility, looking at the different ways two software giants are taking. Focusing on mobile as the device or looking more at the mobile person.

The mobile lawyer


The Citrix strategy seems more about making your desktop or your application available on many devices, so in the talk I showed the concept of running your firms desktop on an iPhone or iPad using Citrix Receiver (and XenApp or XenDesktop in your datacentre). I also showed a cool device that Citrix have launched called the X1 Mouse, this talks to Citrix Receiver on the iOS device and allows you to use a mouse with an iPad! So when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard aswell gives a very mobile desktop experience.

Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 1Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 2

Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 3Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 4



Then I looked at Microsoft’s strategy, which is more about developing the apps as universal apps. This allows them to run on any device size, but change the behaviour based on that size. It also has the advantage of not needing a large datacentre implementations to facilitate it. Plug it into a full screen and it just works like a desktop app. So as you can see from the images below you plug the phone into a dock (which has USB ports for peripherals, e.g. mouse and keyboard but also USB drives etc) and it behaves like a Windows 10 desktop with start menu etc. Clearly Windows Phone (or Windows 10 Mobile) hasn’t a huge market share, but I think Microsoft’s play is to bring in a new kind of smaller computing device to work on rather than go after a smartphone consumer. It is a concept much as the first Surface RT was, one that will iterate a couple of times until we all go “Oh Yeah, now I get it!”

Microsoft continuum in action 1Microsoft continuum in action 2

Microsoft continuum in action 3Microsoft continuum in action 4


I finished off summarising things by saying what lawyers really want for their future world are two simple things:

  1. Get the basis right – make the documents, finance, communications apps quick, simple and easy to use without all the complexity.
  2. Mobility – prepare for a world that makes it possible for a lawyer to do their work wherever they are on whatever they want. This is the mobile lawyer, not the mobile phone.

I did have a few slides at the end on Artificial Intelligence, but this was really as it was mentioned in my early synopsis and I needed to at least touch on why I hadn’t covered it in detail!

You can listen to the talk in full and see a copy of the slides to follow on the British Legal Technology Forum website.


Jun 28 2013

I can only start this post one way…”corporate dropbox”


As it’s been a while since the last post (my thoughts have been elsewhere during May and June) I’m going to stick to some familiar ground until I’m back in the swing of writing; so a post on documents. In particular the “dropbox” conundrum. Although I will mention a few of Legal IT contenders in this space and the challenges they will have, I’m not going to go into detail of how their products work. No, the question for me is where does the DMS (document management system) fit into all this and is it (corporate dropbox) a direction we want to go in?

It was Office 2013 that started me thinking about this again, with its switch from “C:\” being the default File location to having SkyDrive front and centre. A colleague had sent me this comment during a discussion on Office 2013 and Windows 8:

“The move to SkyDrive and other features such as Office on demand point to a big shift in Office not been seen as just on a PC in the office but giving you the ability to access your information anywhere. The question will be will Legal DMS’s be able to handle this type of mobility, I suspect we know that answer already. Which if the answer is no that then raises a bigger question, is [insert any DMS here]  the right platform for us going forward.. ?”

Mobility for me is the key here, why else do people use “dropbox” or “skydrive”. It’s mobility of the data, whether that is to access the content on your Surface or iPad or on your PC at home. And as I alluded to there are a few of the Legal IT big names that are moving into this space. In particular, Workshare and HP Autonomy. Both look to leverage their existing products in Legal IT. Workshare Platform thus integrates into the workflow of their Workshare Professional products to move the document from desktop to “cloud” (see video below)


HP Autonomy LinkSite leverages the workspace concept in WorkSite to move the document from the DMS to the “cloud”. Each of them have platforms to facilitate mobility, whether tablet apps or desktop folder synchronisation. Another option out there is DocAuto’s connector that integrates WorkSite with the Citrix onsite or offsite ShareFile system. This allows you to publish documents into your ShareFile for mobility.

To me though these are addons to a document system that law firms already have, in the cost conscious current environment will law firms pay for the licences for a “corporate dropbox”? Yes I know it’s more secure etc but let’s say it’s £100 per seat (a guess) , for a 1000+ person lawfirm that’s a six figure investment. Maybe with security on a par with costs in CIO’s thoughts the risk avoidance will win, but more likely  the outcome will be stalemate ie no “corporate dropbox”, but heavier restrictions on dropbox, google drive etc. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this article written by Jeffrey Brandt. (which this morning was shown to be a hoax, although this highlights an issue, it isn’t helpful in “selling” a secure alternative to dropbox – meaning unauthorised use of public versions continues!).

The answer to the costs for me is for the vendors to tailor the products as Apple do with Apps and have “in app purchases”. So the basic “dropbox” functionality is free, you then pay for the value added stuff “in App”. So that could be integration with the DMS or Document comparison in the cloud etc.

But back though to the fundamental question, shouldn’t this be a function of the DMS? I think this is one of three key areas DMS vendors need to start answering going forward:

  1. Should email be stored in the DMS? The physical email I mean, I think a view of emails in the matter file should be.
  1. Should just a basic search be a function of the DMS and more complex searching become part of an enterprise search portal?
  1. Mobility. How will the DMS cater for the dropbox, iPad, Windows 8 world?

And for item three there is one key question for the rest of us, are we ready for the security challenges ahead in this space or will we retreat to our “safe cave” of technology?

Floors open guys, what do you think?


Jan 14 2011

“One quote [from a lawyer] was ‘super super impressed’.”


Just a quick post on a law firms Legal IT dept being the lead in a BBC news story on corporate technology!

The article is about the shift to using your own PC at work rather than the PC given to you. As the article says:

You are at work. Your computer is five years old, runs Windows XP. Your company phone has a tiny screen and doesn’t know what the internet is. Idling at home are a snazzy super-fast laptop, and your own smartphone is barred from accessing work e-mail.

So it’s quite an shift for SNR Denton if they really are using home PC’s as the main computer for their staff (although the article mentions a pool of laptops, I wonder if there is a standard desktop and then the home PC/laptop is for those that also need a mobile computer?). But either way it shows that Legal IT is no longer the recipient of the comment “it’s finally doing what the rest of IT has been doing for years” and is up to date with the latest trends in corporate IT.

Anyway, take a look at the article as it nicely captures what can be done and many of the concerns people have with the approach. But one paragraph nicely backs up my last post “RIP Legal IT?”: 

“The old environment was very support heavy, so we can use our support staff to do other critical work without getting sidetracked.”

IT forever evolving!