people—and especially people with high knowledge in one area—are contemptuous
of knowledge in other areas or believe that being ‘bright’ is a substitute for
knowing.” Peter Drucker’s biting observation is likely familiar to anyone who has
spent time working in the legal market. We have an abundance of well-credentialed domain experts with little interest in areas outside their comfort
zone no matter how important those areas might be to their success or the
success of their organization. Suggestions that legal professionals—lawyers, in
particular—should concern themselves with pricing, marketing, technology, project
management, etc. are often met with some blend of confusion and disgust.
this time. Or, at least, not yet. I want to thank the Geeks for providing me a
platform. I hope to deliver more nuanced thoughts on the legal profession than may have previously been associated with me. When The American Lawyer introduces you to the world with the headline “Big
Law Whipped for Poor Tech Training”, it is hard to break out of the mold of
inside counsel berating outside counsel—especially when there is some truth to it
and playing the big bad is so much fun. My first couple of posts will serve as
an introduction to who I am but also highlight many of the ways in which I have
been wrong–the ways in which I was the person described in the Drucker quote above.
consultant. The reason people might recognize my name is coverage
of my tenure in-house where I subjected my outside counsel to what was then
called the Legal Technology Audit (now called the Service Delivery Review
because the word “audit” makes some people uncomfortable). I visited my law
firms to examine how work was handled. The focal point of the review was how
the law firms integrated process and technology into the delivery of legal
services—rather than substantive legal acumen, a threshold requirement the
firms had already satisfied. I investigated hardware, software, project
management, document automation, knowledge management, staffing, etc. But
training on the basic technology is what got everyone’s attention (including Greg).
The Washington Post, for example,
was intrigued that (a) someone had the audacity to test legal
professionals on their proficiency with common desktop software (e.g.,
Word, PDF, Excel) and (b) legal professionals fared so poorly. So I became
the guy who bashed outside lawyers for not knowing Word, and I relished it.
partners confessed at the end, “I expected you to have horns.” That’s great fun.
But it is also a problem. The big bad persona obscures a more constructive
approach to what it means to be sophisticated providers and consumers of legal
service. As Connie Brenton of NetApp and I wrote in a recent column, “Law
firms are easy targets. But law departments are the largest impediment to
change in the legal marketplace. We set the incentives.” An antagonistic posture runs counter to my thoughts on the ways in
which inside and outside counsel should collaborate, as well as my evolution on
how that collaboration should occur and why it matters. More on that in my next couple of posts.
Casey Flaherty is a lawyer, consultant, writer, and speaker. He believes that there is a better way to deliver legal services. Better for the clients. Better for the legal professionals. Better for the bottom line. Casey is creator of the Legal Technology Assessment, an integrated Basic Technology Benchmarking and training platform. Follow Casey on LinkedIn and on Twitter @.