In this roundup: working virtually, law firm business intelligence, e-discovery, infrastructure, lack of alternative billing, and organizing a good conference. 

Working Virtually
When Working at Home Doesn’t Work: How Companies Comfort Telecommuters (8/24/06) in the Wall Street Journal reports: “Driven by employer real-estate cutbacks, commuting hassles and evidence that telecommuting can keep companies operating in disasters or pandemics, companies are embracing “telework” — a term that encompasses working not only from home, but from the road or satellite or client offices. Full-time employees who work from home at least one day a month rose 30% to 9.9 million between 2004 and 2005…” While many employees like telecommuting, not all do; the article reports on steps companies are taking to help employees adjust to working outside of conventional offices. See my prior posts on working virtually.

Business Intelligence
BI Tools: Pennies From Heaven or Highway to Hell? (Law Tech News, Aug 2006) is a good roundtable-style discussion on law firm BI. Adam Smith, Esq. has an excellent comment on this: Are You Thinking Statically or Dynamically? points out that the LTN commentators do not focus sufficiently on the changes that adopting BI software will foster in partner and firm behavior.

Techbooks announced on 9/18/06 the acquisition of Whitmont Legal Technologies.

Managing Outside Counsel
Corporate Law Departments Hiring More and Spending More in (9/27/06) reports on the Altman Weil and LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell survey of inhouse counsel. Among other findings, alternative fee arrangements are much discussed but little used. That’s not a surprise, but nonetheless disappointing for BigLaw CIOs who are pushing their firms toward working more efficiently.

Law firm IT departments periodically consider the need for encryption to protect data. And at least one CIO I know thinks enryption is the eventual answer to records management challenges. It was therefore sobering to read Encryption Works Wonders, But Causes Its Own IT Headaches in Information Week (9/25/06) on the challenges of enterprise-wide encryption.

Organizing a Good Conference
OK, so this isn’t really about legal technology… I’ve organized many conferences so I found Bruce Allen’s blog post, The Changing Nature of Business Events, to be an astute observation about how to organize an effective conference. To his rules of thumb about creating a good conference, I add my own: make presentations truly interactive whenever possible. Encourage a real conversation among panelists and with the audience, don’t just have each panelist talk 20 minutes and then take Q&A at the end. True dialogue, especially if there is genuine controversy, is much more engaging and informative than talking heads. I added my “rule” before reading David Maister’s Some Principles of Presentations and Pitches, which makes a somewhat similar point.