wrote my first column for the California Bar Journal in August 1995.
This one is the last. A lot has happened in law office technology
during the past six years. Here are some major trends. Six years ago,
megahertz and mega-bytes were a big deal. Today, processors blaze and
disks are gigantic. Unless you are trying to edit full-motion video,
contemporary PCs have more power and capacity than you will ever need.
In 1995, Microsoft was a leading player but had
not yet achieved dominance. Now, Microsoft has monopolies in desktop
operating systems and office productivity software.
Among PC operating systems, the various versions
of Windows rule. The Macintosh less-than-10-percent market share
consists almost exclusively of students and creative professionals.
Linux appeals to geeks and open-source proponents, but its practical
use is limited to servers.
When lawyers exchange word processing documents,
MS Word is the assumed format. WordPerfect is a great product from
which no company can make money. Excel, PowerPoint and Internet
Explorer have no effective competitors.
Six years ago, online marketing was new. My first
five columns for the Bar Journal explained this topic to lawyers.
Today, we take a website for granted. Why send a
prospective client a sheaf of papers when you have constantly updated
practice descriptions, biographical summaries and informative articles
Security developments during the past six years
have been a mixed bag. On the one hand, industrial-strength protection
of data is readily available. With the right software and a click or
two, you can encrypt an e-mail message and attachment, then apply a
digital signature to authenticate the source.
On the other hand, security threats continue.
Hackers are always a step or two ahead of the anti-virus software
industry. In seconds, a concerted denial-of-service attack can put an
online service out of business.
High-speed internet access also has been mixed.
For sizable firms and corporations, the news is good. Prices have come
For small firms and home office users, however,
there is disappointment. DSL service is often troublesome to install
and unreliable. Cable service requires a visit from a technician and
slows down if neighbors use the internet a lot.
The past six years have brought both good and
bad. Great technological advances are subject to en-trenched, dominant
vendors that limit our choices and often leave us dissatisfied.
I did not write this column intending to leave on
a depressing note. To the contrary, I believe that if we pay
attention, take concerted action and make our needs known,
collectively we can move events and vendors in directions that benefit
Finally, I would like to express my thanks and
gratitude. Dean Kinley and Nancy McCarthy, Bar Journal editors, have
been great to work with.
Most important are you, the readers. I especially
appreciate the hundreds of fans (and the few critics) who went out of
their way to provide your support, comments and questions. I dedicate
my past six years of writing to you.
Shultz is vice president and legal counsel for an international
financial services organization, where he specializes in technology
licensing and related transactions. His e-mail address is email@example.com.