How Should You Spend Your Tech Dollars?

By | Oct.05.11 | Daily Dispatch, Legal Technology, Money

While the combined topics of surveys, technology and purchasing might have you running for the hills, results from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2011 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey contain some “good to know” take-aways for legal professionals, regardless of your technology IQ. Focused on ILTA member law firms with 50 or more attorneys, the survey covered detailed budget questions, updated information on firm social media preferences, an in-depth analysis of cloud computing, and sections on technology outsourcing and favorite legal applications.

So, what can you learn from all this?

  • Some spending rules of thumb. How much should you be spending on technology? According to survey, 57 percent of all responding firms spend between 2 to 4 percent of their total firm revenue on technology, and 46 percent of survey participants indicated spending $8,000 to $17,000 per attorney. As for overall tech budgets, law firms seem to be doing pretty well at balancing theirs: 35 percent said their budget is the same as last year. The question, of course, is not how much you spend, but how you spend it. Would a practice-wide purchase of iPads increase productivity and reduce your long-term desktop and laptop computer investment?
  • Friends and the Internet. The Internet was cited as the second most popular influence in terms of helping legal IT make purchasing decisions, next to peers’ recommendations. Where do you go for information before you buy something new (before reading AAW of course)? Facebook? Your local bar’s practice management advisor or the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center?
  • Anticipate a cloud(y) future. Cloud strategies are being implemented by 33 percent of the law firm respondents. By comparison, 17 percent indicated implementing a cloud strategy in 2010, and only 9 percent in 2009. So what’s holding you back? Take a look as some of the popular cloud tools for lawyers, Google Apps, Dropbox or even for starters.
  • Here come the tablets! Yes, 25 percent of firms responding said they plan to purchase tablets (i.e., iPads) within the next 12 months, and 55 percent provide IT support for employees who buy and use personal tablet devices.
  • Fast food for thought. Since time is money, you might want to listen to this 15-minute master summary of the survey findings, presented by the highly talented Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell in the Legal Talk Network’s Kennedy-Mighell Report.

The Legal Technology Purchasing Survey is conducted annually by the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) and InsideLegal. To download the full report and dive deeper into the specific legal technology purchasing patterns and trends, just click here.

Jobst Elster is Head of Content at, an online community and advisory resource for legal technology vendors, law firms, legal technologists and thought leaders. Jobst has spent the past 13 years in the legal industry, working with vendors, consultants, the media and law firms on various marketing consulting, public relations and market survey initiatives. He is a frequent contributor to publications including Peer to Peer, Legal Management and BtoB magazine. Contact him at


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