Social software adoption...why law firms get it wrong!

A great post here from the Transparent Office blog on why the adoption of Social Software within Law Firms so often goes wrong. From the blog post;

"Social software can deliver 3 main patterns of use and value to firms:

  • At the most abstract level, there is general legal know-how: how to be an effective lawyer, how to serve clients, etc.
  • At a mid-level of abstraction, there is practice-specific legal know-how: deal templates, legal opinions and perspectives, standard processes for due diligence, strategic perspectives on client industries and/or functional topics
  • At the most concrete level, there is client-specific collaboration: collaborating within legal teams (internally, with clients, or with co-counsel) on specific projects and deliverables"

So where do most Law Firms start when it comes to Social Software? Unfortunately most firms start with "general legal know-how", which as the author describes is the worst place to start;

"From an adoption standpoint, however, general know-how is usually a bad place to start. Lawyers are incredibly busy, and general know-how lies squarely above-the-flow of their daily work. Because lawyers lack incentives to contribute their knowledge to the rest of the firm, invitations to participate in social software implementations are often greeted with a polite "Thanks but no thanks"

So where should Law Firms start, well according to the author it should be with "client specific collaboration". For most people this might seem a weird approach to take, rollout a social software to an external client before our internal teams, but to me it makes sense, but why? "Collaboration use cases appeal to the self-interest of the firm's partners. Partners are inundated with emails containing document iterations. Reconstructing a document's history from email threads is much more difficult than going to a single place where the history is laid it for you. Once partners see the value, associates and paralegals are easy converts"

What do other people think though?

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    # by Scott - Monday, March 23, 2009

    I'll probably do a post on this as well but I think whilst there is a lot of merit in the argument, especially the idea of client specific collaboration, although that should be internal as well as external client. His post - to me -seem to take the view that social media adoption success can only be measured with fee earner/lawyer adoption 9although I'm sure that was not the intention), which ignores half the lawfirm workforce who can benefit from adoption REGARDLESS of whether lawyers do or not.

  2. gravatar

    # by James Mullan - Monday, March 23, 2009

    Scott thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right, to be honest I didn't even think about this when I was reading this article, which is bad considering I belong to the "other half of the lawfirm workforce"

    There are tremendous benefits to support staff using Social Media tools to support their work. Unfortunately in my experience it can be even more difficult to encourage support staff to use Social Media tools/Web 2.0 tools. Despite the numerous benefits associated with using Web 2.0 tools like RSS there is still a view that many of these tools are "waste or time" or irrelevant and that they don't apply to the work they do.