Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, etc.) (from ILTA)

ILTA – August 27, 2008 9:00 am

These are my notes from the program. [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog. Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTA:

Title: Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, MashUps, IM, Text Messages, Social Networks and More)
Description: Collaboration technologies help promote information sharing, efficiency, cost reduction and can provide competitive advantages. How does the legal environment deal with the information overload and the security of confidential information escaping the realm of the organization? What aspects of legal information need to be considered to help determine how collaboration tools should be utilized in the legal world (and when they should not)? What policies must be in place to protect the shared information?

Speaker(s): Tom Mighell – Cowles & Thompson, P.C.
Dennis Kennedy – MasterCard Worldwide

LawyerKM’s notes:

  • See my notes from yesterday’s presentation
  • Collaboration is no longer an option.
  • Web tools are moving beyond email.
  • News and communication:
    Blogs –
    IM –
    Twitter –
  • Working together:
    Documents – drafts & revisions: the old way was redlining.
    Conferencing – scheduling is a major difficulty and very time consuming.
    Wikis –
  • Web 2.0
    1.0 – focus was getting all the info online – no interaction
    2.0 – making the info available to people in more interesting, interactive ways (e.g. Google Maps, Mashups); moving to user-generated content (e.g., wikis and blogs); software as a service (SAAS); cloud computing.
    e.g., Yelp, Delicious, social networking tools, Facebook and LinkedIn are the main players.
    Martindale-Hubbell is testing their own social network (should be coming out in the next couple of months.
    Mashups – SharePoint can be used to mashup information
    Google Sites – allows you to make a mini portal platform on the web
  • The benefits of collaboration:
    1. taking an active role
    2. enhancing the workflow
    3. getting better results
  • Potential Problems of collaboration:
    1. Loss of control – lawyers are tought that they should control the draft and the drafting proscess. Collaborative drafting (like with Google Docs) can take away this feeling of control, blog comments and wikis also may contribute to the feeling of loss of control. Internal vs. external storage (many lawyers are not comfortable with their data on external servers) there is also the issue of down time of third-party systems.
    2. Security – because you are going outside the firewall, there is a concern. You are potentialll opening up multiple points of compromise.
    3. Ethics – need to be a lawyer’s ethical responsibilities. There have not been many ethics decisions about technology. None were cited about collaboration. Is encryption mandatory? Metadata – one state has found that lawyers should have knowledge that metadata exists in their documents.
  • The Balance between riks and benefits:
    1. Cultural – what is the tolerance for risk at your firm? Balanced scorecard, risk-reward framework.
    2. Costs – many of these tools are free – so lawyers might be inclined to try it out. But, some of those tools may be risky. Hidden costs – free tools have implimentation issues [and what about ads in Gmail].
    3. Portfolio approach – is an economic portfolio approach right (i.e., having a diversified portfolio)? Check out some of the collaboration tools.
  • Defining and Implementing Appropriate Policies:
    1. channel appropriate behaviors – lawyers are good at finding work-arounds when they can’t get what they need.
    2. keeping control – policies, procedures, processes – need some sort of formality to it. Very few people in the audience have any sort of policies or procedures that cover collaboration tools.
    3. security and ethical concers – #1 is confidentiality; different levels of access, authority are key to this.
  • Looking into the Future
    1. recent devlopments – since the cost of travel is high, there is/will be an increase in online collaboration.
    2. trends – web2.0 is becoming more common and people are willing to explore
    3. predicions – clients will drive this (if they want it, lawyers will provide it) video will be bigger in the future
  • Conclusions:
    1. keep current – read blogs [like LawyerKM!]
    2. action steps – find your firms policies; look at the tools that you use; think about the issues that arise with the tools that you use.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

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