Centralized Document Storage - The lawyer generates a huge amount of digital information in the form of case files, contracts, court cases, exhibits, proofs, briefs, appointments, banknotes, notes, registries and other office activity as e-mail. This information is corporate collective knowledge and learning that differentiates it from competition and needs to be retrieved over and over. Conformity also requires that some documents be stored and recycled for extended periods. Lawyers in different offices need access to and collaborate with this information.
In 2007, 53% of lawyers used a PDA outside the office, 32% to check emails.
ABA Law Tech Report 2007
Remote access - Clear access to important documents and information can sometimes be all the difference between a positive or negative assessment. Lawyers now have wings on their feet who visit customers, interview experts or participate in external court proceedings and are often absent from the office. It is important that they can have LAN as access to documents from the company's stores, even when they are not in the office premises.
Document collaboration - It is not only enough to have access to documents from the company's storage. An individual case file may require multiple entries from lawyers with different knowledge, customers, experts, researchers, and other employees spread across the country or even the world (at outsourcing). Therefore, it is important to have the opportunity to access and work together in the same file, right from where everyone is.
Remote Conference - Sometimes collaborating on a document may not be enough, and it may be necessary to have an actual discussion and pinch the heads. Web conferencing enables multiple people to get together in a virtual meeting room and discuss issues as effectively as being there in person.
Security - Much information that a legal company manages is very sensitive customer information, as it is bound by my business ethics and contract to protect. Since this information is usually reached and distributed via the public web on the Internet, and is often distributed to third parties on a particular page, security is the highest as a problem.
Access Control - Another level of security is the ability to handle who sees what information and what they can do with it. Since several parties, such as lawyers and collaborators across the company, outsourcing partners and multiple customers, access to information from the company's central storage, this is paramount.
Productivity Applications - Although handling of documents and information is one of the most important things a law firm IT system needs to do, it's not all. They also need the ability to manage and share schedules, maintain lists of important contacts, manage and track different tasks, and trial or individual attorneys may be involved in or billing.
What they do not need
41% of lawyers had no IT staff in any place for their company, while 17% have one, 8% have two and 38% have three or more
ABA Law Tech Report 2006
IT Problems - If you get all of the above candy requires you to install a specialized IT department, install expensive hardware and handle ongoing maintenance and upgrades, maybe it's not just worth it for a small and medium-sized law firm. Larger companies have deep pockets and incentives to set up dedicated systems, but it may not be sustainable for smaller companies.
Complexity - To assure attorneys to embrace the IT system should be attorneys to be able to concentrate on the information itself, rather than interfere with the system's nitty gritties.
Costs - Cost is obviously a consideration for small and medium-sized businesses across the industry. The running costs and the capital expenditures needed for customized and enterprise systems are just out of reach.
Software-as-a-Service Advantage for Legal Business - HyperOffice as a case study
SAAS allows companies to pay to use the software instead of owning it
About eight to ten years back, it was true that access to the above technologies was only available to large companies whose budget and scope motivated dedicated IT departments. Times have changed since then. The program as a service (SAAS) also gives small and medium-sized businesses easy access to major business technology, but without having to deal with the messy underline and high costs associated with them.