In the age of "doing more with less" there have been numerous things that we've just had to stop doing because the costs outweighed the benefits. For example, staff members may have tagged news articles by certain internal taxonomies in order to build daily newsletters that get sent to the attorneys in your firm. Or, you may have had data stewards that reviewed information that went into your CRM databases. Unfortunately, when the staff was cut, or ratios were reduced, these tasks could no longer be supported.
Almost all law firm administrative departments, ranging from KM, Library, IT, and even Secretarial Services, have all had to cut projects and tasks because there simply wasn't enough time, people or money to complete the tasks.
Perhaps you'd like to outsource these projects, but even outsourcing can become too costly for simple tasks, and nearly impossible for ad hoc tasks that may only take a few hours of time to complete, but you just cannot take your staff off of current projects to work on these smaller ones.
There are businesses have been using the crowdsourcing techniques to help them proof-read documents, identify best photographs for a specific topic, suggest an improvement on an existing product, and even help create new templates for their sneakers. But, can a law firm leverage crowdsourcing? Are there specific information databases out there that we'd like to have at our disposal, but do not have the staff to compile, or we do not want to spend thousands of dollars to buy the information from one of the big legal vendors?
There are opportunities with law firms and crowdsourcing, whether it is tagging documents with legal topics, data steward work, or data compilation. I'm currently looking at some outsourcing and crowdsourcing projects that are out there (to be blogged about at a later date) -- but, I thought I'd pose some quick questions out there for the reader:
- Are there tasks/projects that law firms can ethically crowdsource?
- Assuming that the price was right, would law firms even consider crowdsourcing?
I think law firms can take advantage of crowdsourcing.... now, whether they actually will or not remains to be seen.