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Legal technology – the past, the present and the future

Legal technologyThe times they are a changing in the world of legal technology. The pace of change over the last 30 years has been astonishing and this is likely to intensify in coming years. However, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane to see just how far things have come.

I recently came across an exchange of emails between Warren Wander, LawWare’s M.D. and Chris Gallon of law firm Gray and Gray. They do say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, I’m rapidly becoming an old dog myself – but I’ve spent all of my working life trying to learn new tricks.

Warren and Chris are cut from the same cloth. So, at the risk of making this sound like a Proustian exercise or even just like two old blokes talking in the pub (sorry, guys!), let’s take a look at what they had to say.

Warren to Chris…

……. OK, thanks Chris, I’ve changed the contact details from yourself to your colleague.

On a personal note, I’d like to say that it has been a pleasure working with you and I wish you every success in your retirement which I am sure will become a new and very memorable chapter in your life.

Best wishes on behalf of myself and all at LawWare.

Warren.

Chris to Warren…

Legal technology

The Olivetti P6060 – the Sherman Tank of legal accounts.

Thanks for those kind wishes Warren,

I started working for Gray & Gray in August 1979.

Back then I thought that we were a modern and forward thinking firm. We dictated using “state of the art” Grundig tape recorders. The hand-held versions were the size and weight of a brick.

We had electronic IBM golf ball typewriters and after a while the ink would flake off the paper so we used an Olivetti manual, fabric ribbon, typewriter for engrossing deeds and documents. We also had an Olivetti manual accounting machine and a telex machine – we thought we were at the cutting edge.

Since then I have seen the changes brought about by :-

  1. The upgraded Olivetti accounting machine with magnetic memory strips on the side of the cards.
  2. The fax machine.
  3. The car phone closely followed by the mobile phone.
  4. The first word processors, (without screens or displays – using floppy disks) – then the ones with screens, using “Wordperfect” software.
  5. Our first computerised (Ushers) accounting system using “Digital” 4MB Ram PCs.
  6. The upgrading of the Digital PCs to 8MB Ram to use for word-processing (but not integrated with the accounts – log in and log out required) – and these were not on fee earners desks.
  7. The advent of Windows, Word & Excel ‘97 and having networked PCs on every desk (including fee earners). (this time with a Sage accounting system).
  8. Email & web access – (initially dial-up).
  9. Small mobile phones – that could text (the Devil’s work).

And yet more…

  1. ADSL – email overtaking the fax and post.
  2. Digital cameras.
  3. Digital dictation.
  4. VPNs connecting our offices.
  5. LawWare for case management and accounts – one of our better decisions.
  6. The smart phone (once again, the work of the devil).
  7. Smart phones with cameras.
  8. Social media (the Devil’s at it again).
  9. The cloud.

I am pretty sure that when I started work, I would have laughed at anybody that accurately predicated what was to come in the next 38 years.

All the best to all of you guys too.

I may retire, but I expect to hang around like a bad smell until I manage to bury all of my old skeletons.

Best regards

Chris.

Warren to Chris…

Thanks Chris, really enjoyed reading your email (especially the comment about LawWare being one of your better decisions – thanks for that).

I can’t believe either how much has changed in such a short period of time and a real trip down memory lane with some of those technologies. I’m sure my colleague, Simon, will appreciate and remember many of these things too.

Yes, as you say, who knows where these things are going.

If you do stay around as a consultant, within the next 5 years, you may well be picked up by your battery-powered, driverless car that you called from your smart phone to take you to the office but then en route, ask the navigation computer to change direction and head to the golf course, converting into a golf buggy when you arrive and changing the sat-nav to a golf course GPS (but hold off on taking the shot for you for now)…

Keep well Chris and look forward to hearing from you for many years to come…

Warren.

Whilst editing this piece, my spell checker did not recognise the words “fax” or “telex”! Legal technology has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. I wonder what the next ten years hold for us all?

Warren Wander, Chris Gallon & Mike O’Donnell, August 2017.

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