The 2008 Am Law Tech Survey is out. It’s a good read for law firm CIOs and IT directors but I would not rely on the year to year comparison. 

The article Am Law Tech 2008: IT in the Balance (Law Firm Inc., 9 Oct 2008) analyzes the survey results. My reaction was simultaneously: “Wow, there’s a lot new and nothing new.” It suggests that law firm IT and legal technology has come of age and that CIOs have big and high-paying jobs. The analysis does deep dives on VOIP, Web 2.0 (aka Enterprise 2.0) technologies, and the deluge of data. Nothing really that new but good confirmation for those struggling with these issues daily.

The article also links to detailed findings (tables). Lots of good stuff there but use caution in comparing 2008 results to 2007. The AmLaw Tech Survey Budget chart shows that IT operating expense per lawyer dropped from $33k in 2007 to $25k in 2008. That’s big and inconsistent with what I know. Keep reading to see that 90% of firms report an increase in operating budget. Unless I’m missing something, this means the survey respondents in 2007 and 2008 are simply not directly comparable and year to year changes reflect different samples rather than trends.

[For other data hounds out there, this also explains a sentence in the article: “While capital outlays are up a whopping 36 percent over last year — $5,310,494, on average, compared to $3,902,145 in 2007 — spending per lawyer has remained flat ($8,496 compared to $8,500).” Reading that I thought, how can that be unless lawyer headcount changed by as much, which is has not to my knowledge. Again – I don’t think it’s safe to compare the two years.]

The AmLaw Tech Survey software chart lists EDD vendors used by firms. I was a bit surprised at the top vendors in this list: Kroll Ontrack, Lexis Nexis (LexisNexis Applied Discovery), IPRO Tech, FTI Consulting, and Zantaz.

If you are looking for benchmarks on staffing ratios, see the operations chart. More than 80% of firms responding have fewer than 30 users per IT support person.