Posted by Charles A. Volkert on Monday, December 2, 2013 - 00:00 | Follow me
As someone who started working in the legal staffing industry during the late ‘90s, I’ve certainly seen extraordinary changes in the way we do business. The Internet and associated technologies have transformed global e-commerce business opportunities -- and these advancements are having a similar effect on the legal profession.
The ease and immediacy of collaboration tools have opened the door to a new world of information sharing and teamwork in today’s legal practice -- figuratively and literally. As companies conduct more and more business on a global scale, legal organizations are stepping up their use of collaborative technologies to meet clients’ needs.
A number of knowledge-sharing tools and programs have also been designed specifically for legal professionals to streamline workflows and facilitate collaboration among geographically dispersed team members, clients, even with other counsel. We’re seeing increasing use of tools that enable real-time document editing; online discussions; secure portals where lawyers can share files, exchange documents, conduct due diligence; collaborative case and project management; and the list goes on.
I recently read a refreshing article in the ABA Journal that discusses how global collaboration is making its way into tradition law school curriculum. As I was reading, I remembered a comment made by Steven D. Wingert, the past president of the Association of Legal Administrators and the executive director of Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP. In our recent Future Law Office report, Steven remarked, “Legal professionals need to understand the business techniques of efficiency and process improvement and management that the business schools teach -- but law schools don’t.”
To that point, the ABA Journal article featured Michele DeStefano, an associate law professor at my alma mater, University of Miami School of Law, who has created a program where law and business school students worldwide work together virtually to develop solutions to real problems faced by legal education and practice today. The program, LawWithoutWalls, focuses not only on creative problem-solving capabilities but on building project management capabilities, cultural and technology competencies, collaboration and social networking skills, all directly linked to real-life practice.
This innovative application within the classroom underscores the value of collaboration within the legal profession today. It's a trend that’s here to stay.
Please add a comment if you have examples where you’ve used innovative collaboration tools to create operational efficiencies or enhance client relationships. We’d like to hear your best practices and share with others.
Photo of Michele DeStefano by Jason Myers.