Across the world, developments in the way people use information technology have changed business and the business of government, and radically altered the experience of – depending on how you define them – citizens, customers and clients.
In this altered landscape, is there such a thing as ‘legal IT’? Or is it all just ‘IT’? At the Gazette’s roundtable discussion on law and IT it was evident that the profession has a particular set of challenges in using IT to its advantage.
The first, eminently surmountable, obstacle is familiarity. From the number of grey heads round the table, it is clear that the profession is not simply waiting for digital natives to grow up before finding the ‘on’ button and plugging in a modem.
A greater obstacle comes when these people are required to behave not as consumers of IT facing an increasingly user-friendly digital interface, but as closely regulated lawyers with professional duties.
As one attendee observed, this barrier would shrink were the SRA to have greater IT expertise in-house and on its committees.
But lawyers also have it within their power to help one another. With smaller firms working to differentiate themselves on client service, a willingness to share their good and bad experiences of IT providers and their products would be a collegiate act of the sort that floats all ships.