Adoption or adoption? (part I)

February 22, 2009

adoption_bbThe word ‘adoption’ has at least a couple of meanings to a law firm. In Ron Friedman’s blog post, Can Law Firms Continue to be Late Adopters?, he asks whether law firms can afford being late adopters of technology and automation. My focus here is on lawyer adoption. Or more specifically, why lawyers do not use tools and processes that IS, and others in the firm are working long and hard to design, develop and roll out. Here are some lessons I learned over the years:

  1. Initiative perceived to require too much change and have little value (“it was working fine before”)
  2. Resistance to any form of change
  3. ‘Carrot’ not sweet enough, and the ‘stick’ non existent
  4. Lawyers did not remember it was coming (even if you sent emails announcing it)
  5. Solutions do not seem to meet expectations (e.g. poor usability, cumbersome functionality, confusing processes etc.)
  6. Poor attendance in training sessions

During one of my engagements with a large law firm, I interviewed a number of lawyers, including past managing partners in the firm. I was given a mixed bag of advice from which to glean pearls of wisdom:

  1. Don’t launch during busy season (e.g. just before Xmas)
  2. Send more reminders that something is coming, but keep emails short
  3. Make sure it’s important to me. If it’s meant to be used by my assistant, don’t bother me
  4. If you change things, make sure it’s for a very good reason and that it improves things substantially for me
  5. One size does not fit all. I make great use of a ‘cheat sheet’, others may require training
  6. I liked it when <name of any high energy assistant goes here> kept dropping by my office to check in on me
  7. Get support at grassroots level as well as the firm’s management. The first is more important!
  8. Be especially careful with initiatives that alike affect me immediately, email

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