During ILTA 2014, a number of panelists gave a series of TED-style talks on how to subtly encourage their attorneys into adopting new technology. Each panelist presented their own successful method of stealth disruption, most of which were not driven by technology but rather by social techniques for driving change within their organizations. Each panelist led an engaging nine-minute talk about how they led their organization through a technology change.

 

George Kaytor: Seyfarth Shaw

Early adoption program: leveraging betas and other early adopter programs can help set expectations with attorneys that they are helping IT test a brand new product. This tends to shift the attorneys’ focus to providing more positive feedback, helping IT to shape an implementation for a broader audience within the firm. A more traditional approach might elicit more critical feedback of a rollout. George Kaytor’s early adoption program enjoyed great success at Seyfarth Shaw; they found adoption rates increased dramatically and their attorneys actually became advocates for the new technology rather than critiquing its shortcomings. This allowed IT to grow the new technologies organically to full maturity.

 

Wally Dean: Sullivan Cromwell

In the interest of building relationships with vendors, Sullivan launched a continuous improvement initiative to evaluate their providers. The firm created a method for analyzing the relative strength of the relationship with each vendor ranging from what services they provide to what integration points were available to the firm. This initiative became a board reaching challenge which eventually led to better productivity throughout the firm.

 

Berys Amor: Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Corrs made a massive transition to open floor plan seating, eliminating all offices from their firm in favor of adopting a fully open and flexible office space. To the business it was a premises project, but it ended up changing the way people collaborated and shared knowledge in the firm. Many technological challenges were introduced by the change, and a complete overhaul of the WIFI and audio visual systems was needed. In the end, the feedback from the attorneys (who initially thought open floor seating would never work in a law firm) was overwhelmingly positive. Amor’s final advice to the audience was “If you’re going through a big change – make it bigger!”

 

Steve Fletcher: Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

Steve gave a talk titled The Reality Survey – “Determining what’s broken before you fix it.” He spoke about a survey his firm created in order to determine the effectiveness of IT. His IT support group utilizes the survey to ask for honest feedback each year. Based on the results of the survey, his team is able to distill information from the survey and analyze trends to execute an annual IT adjustment plan. This has been very successful within the firm and allowed IT to adapt much more nimbly.

 

Overall the panel had great suggestions for adoption of new IT technology within a law firm. With all of the suggestions being on the method and form side of IT, it became ever clearer that simply purchasing a product and installing it on a firm’s desktops is not a path to successful adoption. Training, marketing, and support programs are critical to the success of any implementation.