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UMKC University Libraries

Law Practice Technology

A guide created for a law class incorporating the book, The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide (ABA)

 Seminal Issues

  • Mobility, Collaboration, and the Pandemic
  • Architecture
    • Security, Backup, and Business Continuity
    • To Cloud or Not to Cloud
    • Paperless Office and Electronic Signatures
    • People, Technology, and Processes
      • Law as Design (including but not limited to web sites)
      • How to Evaluate New Legal Technologies Systemically
  • Tech Competency as Ethical Duty
  • AI
    • Technology-Assisted Review
  • BlockChain
  • Legal Education

Most Effective Tech Tools

  • Document Management
  • Time & Billing
  • Case & Matter Management
  • Financial Management
  • eDiscovery
  • Docketing Software
  • Knowledge Management
  • Mobility and Mobile Apps
  • Lowest ranking were AI and Blochchain

Source 2020 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, p. 260-261 (citing Bob Ambrogi and 2019 Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey).

Adoption of Teams

MS Power Automate

Priority of Software and Services

Priority of Legal Software and Services

Priority of Legal Software and Services Systems

Source of information: Bryce Phillips, Affinity Consulting


Thirty-one states, including Missouri and Kansas, have adopted rule of technology competence

In 2012 the ABA’s House of Delegates voted to amend Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which pertains to competence, to read as follows:

Maintaining Competence

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. (Emphasis added.)

ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 482 ond Duties of Lawyers Following a Disaster.  See p. 176 of LTG.

ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 484 on Duties of Lawyers Following a Data Breach of Cyber Attack.  See p. 178 of LTG.

Ethical issues on Attorney web sites and social media.  See link.

To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

NetDocs, Why are Law Firms Moving to the Cloud (registration necessary)

Source flikr

What is the "cloud computing"?

  • On-demand self-service;
  • Broad network access over a network from a variety of devices;
  • Resource pooling which allows multiple users to share the same systems so that demand is assigned dynamically, as required;
  • Rapid elasticity, so that increased demand can be met on demand and resources may appear unlimited;
  • Measured service, so that both the user and the operator of the service know how to measure use of the service.

National Institute for Standards and Technology Definition of Cloud Computing, Feb. 27, 2012  (cited in David P. Whelan, Practice Law in the Cloud 9-10 (Canada Law Book 2013)).

Pro's Con's ?
rapid reaction times upgrade timing cost
scalable trustworthiness of  internet connection security
mobility long-term commitment for best rates confidentiality
disaster recovery hassle of undoing the deal  
less friction for software acquisition financial viability of service provider  
security Is your data portable with this service provider? (egress fees)  
data certification standards files located out of jurisdiction  
  bandwidth load  
  shared ecosystem with other users  

corruption of database files



Questions to ask: 

  • Where is the data stored?
  • What level of vetting do the company's employees go through?
  • Is data encrypted every step of the way? [And who has a master key if anyone?]
  • Are all systems being kept up to date with security patches?  How frequently?
  • Does the vendor sub-contract any work?
  • How is the company structured?  Who is legally liable for security of breaches?
  • How does the vendor's software integrate with your current suite of tools?
  • Does the vendor's software allow you to customize the security roles for your firm without having to choose from predetermined options?

See p. 174-5 of 2019 Guide.

Facts About Law Practice and Clouds

  • In 2018, web-based software is used by 55% of lawyers (up from 38% in 2016).
  • Small firms (2-9 attorneys) are the most likely to respond affirmatively at 58%.
  • Of those who had not used the cloud computing, the top concerns cited were:
    • 56%: confidentiality and security
    • 49%: less control of data because its hosted by the provider
    • 39%: unfamiliarity with the technology
    • 16%: lack of control regarding software upgrades

Source:  The Sharon D. Nelson, John W., Simek & Michael C. Maschke, The 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide (LTG), 129-130 (ABA Law Practice Division) (citing ABA Legal Technology Research Center's 2019 survey of ABA Lawyers).  

Legal Cloud Security Standards

"On March 17, 2016, the Legal Cloud Computing association released the first set of cloud security standards crafted specifically for the legal industry at ABA TECHSHOW...."  See, LTG, p. 163

Private Cloud Solution

Data Center, Wikipedia

What is a private cloud?  A lot of the distinction between public and private is not only based on who is sharing resources, but who is responsible for the maintenance of resources.  In a private cloud, the customer's IT department has much more responsibility.

Uptime Legal Systems

  • host all firms legal software
  • private cloud for law firms
  • Web Design and SEO
  • Document management
  • MS Office integration


  • private cloud
  • backup and disaster recovery

Document Preservation and the Paperless Office

An attorney may destroy most, but not necessarily all, of the paper file, if the file is stored electronically. Items of intrinsic value may not be destroyed. Originals that may have legal significance, as originals, during the representation may not be destroyed. We encourage firms to offer the paper file to the client prior to destruction.

Going paperless - capture - process - edit - share

Other Themes

Source:  The Lawyerist, Alice Devendra on design thinking for lawyers (may need to register for free).

Richard Suskind quote

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