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Jane:  Have you noticed that this job has become more and more about the correct usage of IT approved technology?  I mean, years ago, I practiced law.  I worked with my clients to determine the best way to work together.  Now, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to learn the tools that IT has decided will make my practice more productive.  Ironically, the more and “better” tech they add, the less productive I become.  Meanwhile, in my personal life I am using technology more than ever.  I don’t need training, and most of it actually makes me more productive. Paying bills has gone from an all-afternoon Saturday exercise to a 2 minutes on the bus thing. Keeping up with friends has gone from a series of weekly or monthly hour long calls to a couple of minutes each day on Facebook. Even doing my taxes, and planning meals have changed from all-consuming tiresome activities to near-afterthought minor annoyances.  All the while practicing law gets more and more complicated.

Dan:  OK. Here is where you say, you should just be allowed to use whatever technology you want to at work.

Jane:  Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.

Dan:  That is asinine.

Jane:  Why!?  Why should some committee of techies – most of whom don’t know their amicus curiae from a hole in the ground – decide what tools I should be required to use to practice law?

Dan:  Jane, they are nerds! They know technology.  They know what’s safe and efficient to use.  A competent IT department does their due diligence on every system, learns it inside and out, and makes sure it’s easy enough for even a tech-challenged attorney like you to use.

Jane:  That’s bull.  And to be clear, I have no problem with my IT people.  They are smart and diligent, but they don’t know the law, the business of law, or the practice of law.  How can they possibly determine what technology is going to be most efficient for the firm, let alone my practice?

Dan:  Would you rather decide what technology your firm uses?

Jane:  No.  But I would love to decide what I use.

Dan:  And who will support that technology when it doesn’t work as expected?

Jane:  They will.

Dan:  Do you know how many possible configurations and variations an IT department would have to support if everyone picked their own tools?

Jane: OK. I can see the need for some limits, but COME ON! Give me a little flexibility here!  If I want to bring in, at my own expense, my personal Mac Laptop, because… well… the damn thing works, then IT should be prepared to support it.  Also, I should never have to carry around both a clunky old Blackberry and my sexy Android phone because IT can’t figure out how to enable a secure connection on the modern device. Plus, if there is no known virus or security threat, I should be allowed to go to whatever websites I want. I am not a child, I have the self-restraint to avoid porn, scams, and excessive use of personal social media while at work.  The point is: I know what I do on a daily basis, and they don’t.

Dan:  And all of the attorneys in your firm are as knowledgeable, self-restrained, and tech-savvy as you?

Jane:  Not remotely.

Dan:  So when one of your moronic partners clicks on a phishing link that takes him to the seedy underbelly of the inter-webs on his personal, but firm-networked, laptop and contracts the digital equivalent of tertiary syphilis, bringing down your firm’s entire network for a week or more…

Jane:   Well…

Dan: Or when one finally gives in to the incessant whining of her 6 year old and lets him play Candy Crush on her semi-secured Android device that has direct access to all firm records and documents, and the kid decides to play “Hey, I wonder what this does?” instead…

Jane:  That’s not what I…

Dan:  Or when you, moderately intelligent and tech-savvy as you are, plug your camera into a photo store kiosk on vacation to print out a couple of snaps for grandma, then come home and plug the same camera into your firm notebook to upload a new wallpaper image, and unknowingly unleash the Trojan Horse that gives hackers on the other side of the world carte blanche access to all of the firm’s client information…

Jane: That’s not possible.

Dan: No, that’s statistically unlikely, but it is extremely possible.  Which would be more inconvenient: learning the firm’s approved technology to do your job safely, or looking for a new job when your firm has lost all of its clients due to a security breach that you unwittingly caused?

Jane:  Ummmm….

Dan:  I know what you’re thinking. “How statistically likely is that?” Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t really know. But being as such a thing would ruin your career, your clients’ business, and would probably blow your firm clean off the map, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” … Well, do ya, punk?

Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in innovation strategy and cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.