June Milestone: The Challenges and a Plea
June marks an important milestone for me personally, and for LitSupport. It has now been 18 months since LitSupport was acquired by The Information Management Group (TIMG). I was, and remain, excited by the opportunities that this opened up for LitSupport. Working with TIMG has been an incredible, collaborative experience. It has enabled LitSupport to maintain its remarkable track record of offering its clients cutting edge, cost effective solutions; both technological and management.
This milestone has also been the catalyst for me to reflect on the particular challenges faced by the legal profession in Australia. At LitSupport, we are constantly talking to our clients about the challenges that they face and helping them find appropriate and pragmatic solutions. We are fortunate in that LitSupport’s clients tend to be progressive and open to hearing about working in new ways.
Sadly, not all Australian law firms are LitSupport’s clients. I want to find ways to research the challenges that are faced by Australian law firms across the board; not just by our own clients. There is a plethora of research on the challenges faced by the legal industry both in Europe and in the United States. This is certainly enlightening and, no doubt, some of this is relevant to us here in Australia.
However, there is not the same level of research available on the unique challenges faced by the profession here. European and American law firms seem to be able to share knowledge and experience in law firm management without compromising their obligations of confidentiality to their clients. I wish that Australian law firms would do the same.
I would argue that, without a more open, knowledge sharing culture when it comes to law firm management, Australian firms will not be able to gain the benefit of specific, Australian centric solutions developed by Australian information management experts. A firm that is unwilling to share the challenges will only have solutions that they develop for themselves. How will law firms do this? Will law firms have to become information management experts? Will law firms be able to do this more cost effectively than the actual experts? How will law firms recover the costs?
Legal clients are increasingly cost conscious and unwilling to pay for anything other than pure legal services. I find it highly unlikely that their clients will want to subsidise expensive, in-house investigations into information management solutions. Information management is not just a luxury anymore. Efficient and cost-effective information management is not only a competitive advantage for law firms but a regulatory obligation. In August 2011, for example, the Federal Court issued practice note CM6. CM6 states that the Court expects the parties to a proceeding to consider the use of technology in the management of documents and conduct of proceedings.
A knowledge sharing culture is vital for information management experts to continue to stay ahead of the needs of not just our own clients but all Australian firms. Yes, a knowledge sharing culture is good for our business, but it is also good for yours!