I’ve been reading the new book by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell on Collaboration Tools and Technologies. The book is a goldmine of concrete suggestions - many of which don’t involve a lot of investment, but making the most of the tools you already have.
In fact, that’s one of the main lessons of the book, in my view. People already have a number of collaboration tools which most often are either not used or poorly used. By putting some thought into your workflow, you can make collaboration dramatically more efficient with the tools you already have.
If the book has a weakness, it is that it tends to be a little abstract, or algebraic. In a way, it could hardly be otherwise because “every installation is a snowflake,” unique. So it is next to impossible to prescribe universally applicable solutions. But it is unfortunate that the book barely mentions commonly used practice management tools such as Time Matters or Amicus Attorney. For example, both these programs have an “in-house Instant Messaging” function, but this is not discussed in their chapter on Instant Messaging.
Similarly, the book barely mentions document management systems, yet if you want effective collaboration on documents, a firm really needs to have one in place. Brief banks, for example, can collect forms, pleadings, motions or other documents that the firm has standardized on as containing its preferred language for various situations. Brief banks can also serve as a great training tool for new attorneys: “here’s how we deal with the following situation, and why.”
Still, even if you only get a couple of ideas that make sense in the context of your firm, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies will have been extremely useful. It can be ordered from the ABA, at ababooks.org