Way back in 2008, Dennis Kennedy and I wrote The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together – hard to believe it has been 7 years since we wrote that book! We recently decided to revisit the topic on our podcast, so in our latest episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, we survey the 2015 collaboration landscape in The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies. Check out the show notes for links to the different things we talked about.
I must confess to some frustration on this subject, because I’m just not convinced that lawyers use collaboration tools as much as they could, or should. Sure, we are using instant messaging, text messages, and social media more these days – if you can call social media a collaboration tool. But I tend to think of those tools as more communication than collaboration. When I think of true collaboration, I think of using tools that help lawyers get stuff done – whether it’s a legal document, a project, or a simple brainstorming exercise.
Let’s take document collaboration as an example. Google Docs has been around for nearly 10 years now, and has continued to improve itself over the years. It’s a great way to collaboration on a document – any number of people can review the document at the same time and edit it together. Having the document in a central location where a single version can be edited by everyone at once is much more efficient than creating multiple versions of a document, having many people creating documents with different revisions at the same time, and having email flying back and forth carrying different revisions of the same document. Yet, other than those lawyers who are regular Google Apps users, I’d wager that very few lawyers use tools like this to collaborate on documents.
You may say that you don’t use Google Docs because you use Microsoft Office for your documents. But Google Docs can handle Word, Excel and PowerPoint files just fine. Even better, Microsoft has rolled out its own online collaboration platform, Office Online, which is a nice tool that handles online document collaboration with relative ease.
Am I wrong about lawyer use of document collaboration tools? Here’s your chance to tell me. I created a Document Collaboration Tools survey with Google Forms, and I’d love for you to let me know what tool(s), if any, you use to collaboration on documents. If you want to continue the conversation, leave a comment below – let’s discuss the types of collaboration tools you use with your clients or other lawyers. I’d love to know more about what you are all doing out there.