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Explaining the Dearth of Large Law Firm Client Facing Systems

I’ve been disappointed not to see more client-facing systems in the legal market. I recently wrote an article suggesting potential explanations. 

That article was published in the premier issue (March 2013) of Legal It Today, available for download and subscription here. You can also read it on this website, here.

It elicited little feedback so I am posting a short summary here. Any confirmation or rejection of the theories I propose is welcome.

THE EVIDENCE
Two recent surveys found that few firms use technology to achieve substantial client impact. In May 2012, I surveyed large firms to update a list of client-facing systems that I compiled six years ago. I was surprised by how few new online services I found. In November 2012, the FT issued its US Innovative Lawyers 2012 report, based on survey research and interviews. Legal tech barely features in it.

THE POTENTIAL EXPLANATIONS
- Firms lack interest
- The CIO has no time
- Individual partner and institutional firm interests diverge
- Lawyers are too risk averse
- Firms lack investment capital
- Firm management has no time
- Law and legal advice are too complex
- Clients lack interest

WHAT THE FUTURE MAY HOLD
- Alternatives to BigLaw gain share, in part with client-facing technology
- Some large law Firms Innovate to build systems, they gain share
- Clients act on their own to build systems
- No change

Is your factual assessment different? Or do you have other theories, or predictions? You can e-mail here: info at prismlegal dot com.