Way back in the day, when a young blogger was in law school, he was challenged by his professor to envision what the future of law firms would look like. After making jokes about drive-thru divorce firms (they exist!?!), he set his tech geek mind to the task and really thought: "how would I design a firm?" He wrote this, later republished as a blog post.
So why hasn't it happened yet? The answer is simple: the software infrastructure hasn't matured enough.
You can talk about cloud computing, DropBox, and other ways of sharing files between computers, but so far, there has not been a reliable, widely adopted platform that can manage an entire firm's tasks, clients, research, forms, billing, and staff all via the Internet. Until now.
We haven't had a chance to play with Thomson Reuters' soon-to-launch "Firm Central," but if the previews are to be believed, it might just be what we were dreaming of on a cold Virginia night.
So what is it? Law practice management. The Cloud. Legal Research. All in one.
How do you currently run your office? For many of you, it's a cobbling of fifteen different services and applications. Word for drafting. WestLaw for research. Outlook for communication. Google for finding proper forms and templates. WebEx or gChat for instant messaging.
Firm Central promises to be all that and then some. Per the webinars on its website, it will integrate research with client databases, conflict checking, marketing tools, paperless office management, and many other tools that help you run your firm more efficiently. It appears to also have corresponding mobile apps to access your practice data from tablets and smartphones.
Data redundancy? Check.
Cloud storage? Check.
Encryption? We'd expect nothing less.
Is this product what they say it is? More importantly, does it make the law firm of the future finally possible? We don't know yet. FirmCentral will be launched later this month at LegalTech New York. Once it is up and running, we'll test and evaluate it. We'll get back to you.
Until then, if you are curious, there are a number of Webinars and hints of things to come at FirmCentral.thomsonreuters.com. Plus, they are giving away a tablet. We love tablets.
Please Note: Firm Central is a Thomson Reuters product. So are we.