YourABA: December 2013
YourABA December 2013 Masthead

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ABA TECHREPORT 2013: An overview

For more than 20 years, the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center has surveyed practicing attorneys about their technology through the annual Legal Technology Survey Report.

The Survey Report is recognized as the source for information regarding the use of technology by attorneys in private practice, equipped with six distinct volumes and nearly 700 pages of detailed analysis and data.

This year, the LTRC decided to take it one step further by inviting legal technology experts to dig into and analyze the results of the Survey Report. Uncover their observations, interpretations and predictions in the ABA TECHREPORT 2013.  Here’s an overview of each of the 10 articles with a sneak peek of one key stat from each:

Trends in Solo and Small Firm Hardware
Richard G. Ferguson

Solo and small firms — those made up of two to nine attorneys — differ from larger practice groups in their selection and use of hardware technologies. Trends in Solo and Small Firm Hardware explores many of these differing trends, covering everything from smartphone and tablet use to external storage devices.

  • Nearly 95 percent of solo and small firm respondents report having a multifunction printer.

Navigating Through the Clouds
Dennis Kennedy

Cloud computing has become a major topic among lawyers in the past year. The 2013 Survey Report indicates lawyers’ attraction to the anytime, anywhere access of the cloud as well as low cost of entry and predictable monthly costs. Many lawyers and law firms have successfully transitioned to the cloud, but concerns about security and confidentiality remain as a deterrence for others.

  • Solos and small firms lead the way in cloud computing usage, with 40 percent of solos reporting that they’ve used the cloud and 36 percent of small firms.

Training Matters
Adriana Linares

D. Casey Flaherty’s recent audit exposed lawyers’ true technology incompetence. In order to stay ahead of the curve, lawyers and law firms must take the appropriate steps to become more tech savvy. Adriana Linares sheds light on the different types of technology training available and where to find these opportunities.

  • Only 39 percent of respondents considered it “very important” that they receive training on their firm’s technology.

Technology as an Investment: Budgeting and Planning
Nerino Petro

Technology should be planned and budgeted for by firms of all sizes. With technology becoming more and more important for lawyers and law firms, many questions are raised: Has technology budgeting gotten better or worse? Does firm size impact this trend? When do lawyers and firms replace technology, and who makes that decision?

  • Just over 40 percent of respondents report that they replace computer hardware only when it becomes outdated and needs upgrades.

Communicating in the Online Era: Blogging and Social Media
Allison C. Shields

With communications increasingly going digital, it is an expectation rather than differentiating factor for lawyers and law firms to manage not only blogs, but also social media profiles. These outlets can be perceived as successful ways to gain referrals and clients or a waste of time — it all depends on how and how often they are being used. This TECHREPORT article evaluates the who, what, why and how of lawyers’ and law firms’ online interactions over the past few years.

  • Approximately 19 percent of lawyers reporting using social media say it’s served as a source of clients, though that number jumps to 28 percent among small firms.

Going Mobile
Tom Mighell

Within the past few years, lawyers have been happily adopting mobile technology for work purposes, and use of tablet devices is on the rise. With this increased use of mobile technology, however, comes new security concerns as well as the need for policies on use of mobile devices in the law office. 

  • As recently as 2011, 45 percent of respondents reported using BlackBerry devices. In 2013, that number has dropped to 16 percent.

Finding the Right Case: Online Legal Research in 2013
Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch

With most print pieces going digital, legal research has moved online to sites such as Google, Casemaker, Fastcase and Bing. Which of these sites is used most often for research? Will print books become extinct as more e-books being released? In this article, Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch take a look at how legal research is being conducted online in 2013.

  • When starting a new online research project, respondents were most likely (40 percent) to turn to fee-based online resources first.

The Tech Savvy Litigator
Paul Unger

Technology trends in litigation and the courtroom are fast-moving but fairly complicated. Tablets are being used for research and trial presentations, but firms are becoming more frugal in terms of electronic discovery requests. Explore how mobile devices, electronic discovery and paperless technologies have affected these areas of the legal world in “The Tech Savvy Litigator.”

  • Litigation support isn’t as widely available in 2013 as it was in 2011, dropping from 60 percent to 50 percent.

Security Snapshot: Threats and Opportunities
Joshua Poje

Security should be a major concern for lawyers and law firms in every aspect of their work, and new technology brings on many new risks. Lawyers must educate themselves on how to effectively secure their data, whether it’s on the desktop, a flash drive, in an email or on their mobile devices, in order to minimize potential threats. Additionally, law firms must create specific policies for not only security, but also how they will deal with security breaches.

  • In 2013, 34 percent of survey respondents reported that their firm allows them to connect personal mobile devices to the network without restrictions.

Big vs. Small: Learning From Each Other
Joshua Poje and Rodney Dowell

In order to stay ahead of the competition, many small firms spy on other small firms’ technology decisions, and the same is true for big firms competing with one another. However, many new lessons could be learned if a small firm broadened its perspective and looked at what some big firms are doing and vice versa.

When asked about communicating with clients, 58 percent of solos reported regularly communicating face-to-face, while just 33 percent of large-firm respondents said the same.

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