Monday, 6 July 2009

Technology in legal business, age gap technology gap – LexisNexis survey of legal / white collar professionals

A few months old now, but a April 2009 report of a LexisNexis Technology Gap Survey of 250 US legal professionals and 450 other US white collar professionals, conducted between July 22 and August 8, 2008, makes interesting reading.

It compared technology and software usage among generations of professionals, notably:

  • Boomers (ages 44-60)
  • Generation X (ages 29-43), or Xers, and
  • Generation Y (ages 28 and younger) - Yers.

Use of technology in legal business

Regarding the use of technology in legal business,

“although a clear majority supports the other propositions, there is a significant minority resistant to claimed benefits [of technology] in building professional relationships, improving billing times and attracting new business…

…Almost three-quarters of Legal professionals feel that new technologies present some risk to confidentiality and security (one in 5 strongly agree). Concern emanates most notably from Gen Y and Boomers and is more likely among men (77% vs. 65% of women).”

The LexisNexis press release said:

“there are vast discrepancies between generations on what the appropriate use of technology and software is, potentially causing tensions in the legal workplace. For example: While seventy-five percent of all Boomers agree that Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs, such as BlackBerries, Palm Treos) and mobile phones contribute to a decline in proper workplace etiquette, and believe the use of a laptop during in-person meetings is "distracting," only forty-four percent of Gen Y legal professionals agree.”

Other findings

The survey found blurred boundaries between work and home (the younger generation is the group most seriously concerned that the unrestricted use of software, hardware and the Internet at work may not be good for their own workplace productivity), and also technology overload / “too much multitasking”. No surprises there.

Some particular points of interest, illustrating the generation gaps:

  • Only 35% of Boomers say they use music playing software at work versus 60% of Xers and 58% of Yers
  • Twice as many Gen Y workers use video playing programs at work (51%) compared to Boomers (25%).
  • 49% of Gen Y use photo editing programs at work versus 28% of Boomers.
  • Almost three times as many Gen Y workers (39%) report using gaming programs at work than Boomers (14%)
  • 62% of Gen Y reports accessing a social networking site from work; versus only 14% of Boomers.
  • 47% of Gen Y access Internet bulletin boards and forums from work -versus 27% of Boomers
  • 44% of Gen Y access multimedia sharing web sites from work -versus 24% of Boomers
  • While only 28% of Boomers think that blogging about work-related issues is acceptable, 41% of Gen Y do.
  • While almost half of Gen Y workers (47%) think it’s acceptable to befriend a client on a social networking site, only 24% of Boomers do.
  • While only 38% of Boomers think it’s appropriate to befriend a colleague on a social networking site, over three quarters 76% of Gen Y workers do.

Solutions?

Solutions it suggested to the issues highlighted included:

  • Investing in technologies and workflow solutions that enhance workplace productivity rather than increase multi-tasking.
  • Establishing clear guidelines around acceptable uses of technology in the workplace, as well as providing training on new technologies.
  • Acknowledging and addressing the significant impact of social networking by investing in professional networking solutions.

More info

See the LexisNexis Technology Gap Survey for much more information, statistics and charts.

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