Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 69 of 143

Shaping theFirm Today, most firms stagnate in a reactionary role. How many times a day are you putting out fires or responding to the frantic cries of another “Do you know how much this firm is losing because I can’t work” incident? We find ourselves beleaguered with expectations from our end users set far higher than we are realistically capable of providing. Nevertheless, we are mired in a repetitive process where, next thing we know, we’re six revisions back on a critical application, our infrastructure is latency- poor, and we are addressing symptoms, not root causes. I believe it is time to focus on the service of technology and move away from the products of technology. This is where commoditization frees us. Free from Mediocrity How do we make this jump? How do we position IT to fill a role that the attorneys identify as a resource and not a liability? Easily done, just align yourself with the business, right? Well, that’s a start. However, first, we need to free ourselves from the mediocrity as suggested by “The Compatibility Curve” in Mr. Koulopoulos’s article. Once your network is up and running, why would you need a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) or even a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) on staff? And do you really want to allow your folks to tweak and play with the infrastructure as “professional development”? Isn’t this where we get ourselves in trouble? So, outsource the design. Get a contractor for the heavy lifting. Your department is probably understaffed, anyway. Instead of your engineer learning through trial and error, the knowledge exchange with the consultant is real-world and strikes a deeper chord with your staff. Innovate and Align So, you streamlined and passed off the mundane tasks to contractors, now what? Ideally, we partner with the professional staff. This is the facilitating innovation that Mr. Koulopoulos mentions. It’s not enough to bring the most current revision of a critical app or the coolest next gadget; we have to be aware of the strategic aims of the firm and how the consumer market will leverage the firm. Yes, I said “consumer market”. Get over it — like it or not, SkyMall is in our lives. Our technology leaders must gain a seat at the table with the managing partners and executive staff to determine where they can assist. This is the difference between simply choosing software or hardware products and identifying a need by the end user and crafting a solution to meet it. Once IT has the same prominence as the other departments from an operations and strategy perspective, we will begin to see the benefits of what technology has to offer. When we become intimate with how the attorney practices law, what the stress points are for her, and why she believes her concerns are not being met, we can begin to anticipate those needs. By being proactive and freely collaborative with the professional staff, we ascend beyond the stereotypical “IT guy” and reach into the future of IT. Technology should be an extension of the attorney’s hand in her practice of law, not a hindrance to it. Let’s face it — technology is easy. It has evolved beyond the days of needing a technician to set the clock on a VCR. Technology has grown into services and clouds that require little maintenance or PMI to keep them going. The mystique is gone and the days of Star Trek are upon us, where technology is taken for granted and we are more amazed that something doesn’t work than that it does. Every day we hear about attorneys that are setting up servers or establishing subscription services for applications and services that would have taken an IT department weeks of planning and integration to roll out. Does all this spell the end of IT? Not at all. This is, however, a Darwinian moment. The weaker species will fall behind either due to hubris or lack of an ability to change. Many (hopefully most) will make that evolutionary leap to bringing the value we have all felt we are capable of providing. Our strengths will transcend technology and reach into the business to tie it all together. IT will step back from the edge and thrive in this new and exciting time, provided you are prepared to change. ILTA Future of the Andrew Collier is a 20-year veteran in the information technology industry. As Chief Information Officer at Ice Miller, Drew leads the IT staff in strategic technology initiatives to improve the productivity of the firm. His focus on improving customer service and ensuring a consistent positive experience for end users lends to his roles as an advocate for marketing technology as a service to both the firm and the client. He can be reached at Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 71

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Peer to Peer Magazine - June 2011