This is the fifth in an occasional series of “maxims” on managing legal technology. Each one is a bit edgy – you have to decide where the line is on just how true it is! 

Honestly Held Beliefs May be Wrong. Lawyers vociferously support their ideas, convinced they are correct. But they may well be wrong. An honestly held idea does not make it right. Always reality-test strongly held individual views by checking against other lawyers and the marketplace.

Some examples from days gone by:

  • “E-mail will never amount to much.” That was the honestly held view of many lawyers until around 1997.
  • “We can’t use optical character recognition (OCR) – it’s not 100% accurate.” That view belied two distinct misunderstandings: (1) appropriate search tools and techniques could not correct for errors and (2) the alternative was better. In this case, the alternative of objective coding was often said to be 97% accurate but in my experience, it was often worse.
  • “We don’t need to worry about e-mail in discovery.” Need I say more?
  • “We have no real competitors.” If that’s true, lay off your marketing department.

The question for today is which strongly held views will look as silly in retrospect.