December 18, 2008

What I learned at the legal technology conference...

It was a shame really. This conference had prominent speakers from various big firms (with more than 15 lawyers according to Malaysian standard as the biggest had 200 lawyers in comparison in USA the medium has thousands of lawyer). It also had the support industry, which was the IT industry, which had lawyers or ex-lawyers as their consultants.

The attendance was pathetic as the attendees were mostly the guests of the speakers of the conference, which include me. As I had upgraded the system at my firm recently, I considered the topic of the conference was interesting but was not interesting enough for me to spend the more than RM1000-00 for it. Although that money would have helped me in my tax exemption next year, I was bracing my firm for tough time ahead.

As I posted in my earlier posting which you can read here (, I was the guest of Eddie Law who was speaking about harnessing technological advancement by small firm in order for them to compete with bigger firm. I also met the vendor of my legal documents management system which had the opportunity to introduce her products to the conference participants. Their document management system shows potential and I had asked them to tweak a bit of their program to accommodate a few of my firm's need.
In the two days I was there, I learned that the internet, if properly harness can be a great marketing tool, even for a restricted industry like us. Our archaic law (to coin a phrase used extensively by critical bloggers of our legal system) seems to not want lawyers to publicise themselves which may make the profession looks bad. In my personal experience, the reputation of my profession has exceed itself and lawyers had always been the butt of joke of most conversation in whatever level of society you are in. So, what reputation, I ask?

The speakers who are lawyers were mostly from the Big 5 (if there such a thing in legal firms in Malaysia) and they told us how their firm sued the technological advancement to ensure best performance during trials, marketing without contravening the rule and the traps that you may fell into if you are not careful in using technology be it the internet or the hardware. Defamation law was discussed and jurisdiction for such contravention was also looked into.

As for the non-legal speakers, they proposed more usage of the internet, the idea of certifying yourself using other industry standard (although the speaker didn't make any in-depth research on legal firm, making her look foolish when it comes to answering questions) and the upgrading of the system that you are currently using. All this are not that worthwhile compared to the last final presenters. One is a lawyer in Lee, Hishammudin, Allen & Gledhill, a Mr. Koh, who I admired greatly as he seems to be quite an innovator and user of technology although being quite late in the years. He had been using technology since lawyers never heard of the term of e-courtroom. That brought us to last presenter who was doing the e-court system for the past five years in Malaysia and updated us on why Malaysian courts have problems in implementing the system. It seems that the court had already using it internally but not all stakeholders are ecstatic of migrating to better technology. Mr. Rizan showed us a few hilarious video, which showed the US attorneys rapping and US courts tagging files to make sure it won't be lost. Good luck I say to making sure Malaysian lawyers and courtroom to be the same. Bereaucracy you say? That's the least of your worry.

Anyway, I now know the direction that I want to take my firm and the further technological advancement I want to implement in order to compete on a more level playing field. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and even if you are not allowed to do most things when it comes to marketing, there are ways to skirt around it.

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