Image [cc] lowjumpingfrog

#1 and I were chatting (not quite at 3 Beers) and he made a statement that really made me think.

Damn him.

We were talking about whether lawyers will embrace internal messaging apps or any other type of social media apps as KM or just communications tools. I commented that IT clings to some false hope that the next application they install will be a killer, one that gets used by everyone just because it’s there – just like email was. It’s my opinion that email has been the only true killer application for lawyers. It was the only one lawyers embraced simply because it was there. Since then firms hold out hope that the next application they install will be so useful and cool that their lawyers will jump on it.

This never happens.

We were talking about why that is the case, when Greg said, “I think they embraced email since it allowed them to avoid using their phones.”

Oh sweet epiphany.

We all know lawyers prefer to avoid change. But the epiphany tells us they are even more willing to avoid talking to clients (or maybe anyone else). One of my Golden Rules: Lawyers will doing anything to avoid talking to clients about fees. Likely this ‘avoidance rule’ extends well beyond that of fees and in to client conversations in general.

The lesson here is that those in search of the next Killer App for legal should build tools that focus on delivering a level of ‘Client Conversation Avoidance’ above useful features.

Commence with development.

  • A couple of comments on this post.
    1) e-mail, when first introduced, was regarded by attorneys as waste of time. It wasn't until they found it "less painful" than walking down the hall or picking up the phone that e-mail started to gain traction. Of course, e-mail gained so much traction that we quickly attempted to do everything from the e-mail client (which causes a lot of problems).
    2) Legal Project Management has the "Client Conversation Avoidance" ability. More accurately, LPM provides the attorney an ability to have discussions about strategy rather than mechanics of a deal. So, by your definition, LPM is the next Killer Legal App.

  • ELM

    Never thought of that before, but Greg is right on the money.

  • I think email was FIRST adopted by lawyers as a quick and cheap document delivery service. It was a way to meet a deadline you had already blown using traditional delivery means. Later perhaps it was recognized as a way to avoid real time conversations. Also a way to get something off your desk and onto someone else's in the middle of the night.

    The more charitable reader will acknowledge that lawyers saw email as a way to still be responsive to clients even when they were unavailable during normal business hours due to meetings, court appearances, etc.

  • This is interesting, I had never thought of this before but I do agree with it. Email is an avoidance mechanism for a lot of people.

  • Agree that LPM, or simply better budgeting/monitoring of matters, could drive the next "killer app". But I would like to think that the transparency these apps could provide would in turn drive better client conversations, not less of them. Or at least would drive more informed conversations on both sides. But alas, I can't disagree that most lawyers would rather skip the conversation part altogether.