Lawyer acceptance factor

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In the olden days when hi-fi envy was still a thing, spoddy anorak types would speak of the “wife appreciation factor” — the kind of attributes would see that new pre-amplification gain stage attenuator make it through the door without the missus hitting the roof.

Generally, an awesome total harmonic distortion rating wouldn’t cut it. It had to look nice, which meant “acceptably unobtrusive” and ideally invisible, but failing that, having artfully-applied walnut veneer, a minimalist fascia and a resemblance to mid-century Danish lounge furniture would at least put you in play.

We mention this because the same goes, with feeling, when embarking on a user change journey, particularly where the gang of redoubtable hobbits on that journey comprises members of the legal profession ten or twenty years into their practising careers. The business case may write itself, the data granularity it promises to kick off may be overwhelming but, still, it behoves a smart middle manager to consider how the “change journey” will present itself to the legal eagles whom you expect to embark on it.

Because they’re a stubborn, recalcitrant lot, are our sibling lawyers. The way they see it, they are already on a journey, it is tedious enough as it is, and they are not interested in being sent on some M.B.A.-initiated diversion designed to convert them, as they see it, into glorified hamsters.[1]

Contrary to received wisdom, and however vigorously they may, as a class, declare themselves proudly prehistoric, lawyers are not universal Luddites, and will hoover up any tech they come across that makes them get where they think they are going faster.

Mobile email, for example, got accepted so quickly that it barely was an innovation: it went from science fiction to the commonplace instantly, skipping a phase transition altogether, like dry ice subliming to CO2 to the point that it is hard to credit it was ever novel. Likewise, automated document comparison, remote working, and a host of other neat recent tricks.

But those innovations, however brilliant they may, in the abstract be, that don’t make a lawyer’s life easier: that are imposed on her to make someone else’s life easier — usually a bean counter’s — and ones that deprive her of her autonomy, or reduce her to a form-filling, button-pushing functionary — expect these to take a little while longer[2] to “catch on”.

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