One of the invariables confronting law firm CIOs and IT departments is how to keep up with the ever-changing face of the technology used or being considered by their firms. And nowhere is this clearer than in the mobile segment of the industry. In the wake of the blockbuster announcement that Facebook is buying the photo-sharing network Instagram for $1 billion, The New York Times is reporting on the increasing trend of developing applications directly for mobile devices. This is in contrast to the old model, which was to develop a Web presence first, followed later by a version for mobile. “It is a major change from just a few years ago, underscoring how the momentum in the tech world is shifting to mobile from computers.”
The article reports that venture capitalists are eagerly backing the mobile trend. According to research firm CB Insights, “mobile apps and companies attracted 10 percent of the total investment dollars from American venture capital firms in last year’s fourth quarter, and 12 percent of deals were mobile-related, up from 7 or 8 percent in previous quarters.” Venture capitalist Ben Lerer said he preferred to back these types of companies because “businesses that are thinking that way are planning for the future.”
Another related industry report by mid-market investment bank Berkery Noyes reveals that the value of transactions in the software industry in Q1 2012 increased 10 percent compared to the previous quarter. Companies within the infrastructure software segment offering security solutions are driving a good number of the deals – transactions focusing on security increased 75 percent over the fourth quarter of 2011. A number of the deals involved security solutions for mobile devices, including Symantec’s acquisition of both Nukona and Odyssey Software.
So what does this mean for lawyers and law firms? All of this deal activity underscores the growing significance of an increasingly mobile workforce, the importance of which is not lost on law firms. We previously wrote about the proliferation of mobile devices in law firms, as lawyers are increasingly using iPads and other tablet devices, in particular. But the new technologies also bring up concerns regarding the security of the firm’s data. A survey of legal professionals and law students that was conducted last year reported that almost half the respondents chose Apple hardware because they felt the “technology was more reliable and secure.”
The challenge facing many CIOs and IT departments is how to protect the firm’s data (and the client’s) while devising a mobile strategy that allows lawyers to work efficiently using their iPads, smart phones or other mobile devices.
The Hildebrandt Institute and West LegalEdcenter will be exploring this issue (and others) in its Mobility Strategies and the Future panel session at the 10th Annual CIO Forum in New York on April 24th. The panel moderator and conference co-chair is Neeraj Rajpal, Managing Director & Chief Information Officer, Morrison & Foerster LLP. Panelists include Peter Lesser, Director of Global Technology, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates; Karen Levy – Director of Global Technology, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; and James Paterson, Senior Director of Product Line Management, LexisNexis.
Posted by Marianne Purzycki