Several large law firms have laid off lawyers and staff. Less publicized are other cutbacks. 

I hear from friends in multiple BigLaw firms that they face pressure to reduce travel costs. If “necessity is the mother of invention” and there is a “silver lining in every cloud,” then perhaps we will see wider adoption of collaborative technology. Much non-client-billable law firm travel is to attend conferences or visit other firm offices. Many web-based technologies allow teams to collaborate and people to present without anyone leaving their desks.

Relatively old technology includes web conferencing, webinars, and instant messaging (IM). Relatively new includes a host of Web 2.0 systems, from shared applications (e.g., Google Apps or Basecamp), to easy point-to-point video, to social networking (e.g., Facebook, Linkedin, and Legal Onramp).

Law firms looking to reduce travel cost can “kill two birds with one stone” by using the cost cutback as an incentive to cause lawyers and staff to use the web in lieu of travel. Beyond cost savings, this will mean less personal and environmental wear and tear.

PS – I finally broke down this weekend and established a Facebook profile. I can see the promise, but as one of my friends messaged me, “be careful about drinking the Kool Aid.”