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Richard Susskind's Foreward to My Book "Cloud Computing for Lawyers"

Cloud bookI was deeply honored when Richard Susskind, a leading legal futurist and technology author and someone whom I greatly admire and respect, agreed to write the foreward to my new book, "Cloud Computing for Lawyers." The foreward, in its entirety, follows. 

You can learn more about this book and purchase it here. And, if you're interested in buying this book in ebook format, as many have told me they are, rest assured it will be available for purchase in that format in just a few months.


HOW SHOULD LAWYERS RESPOND to the emergence of new technologies? This is a question that will regularly challenge the next generation of leaders in law firms. New systems, applications, and techniques will arrive in the market with disconcerting frequency and somehow they need to be identified, evaluated, and then exploited or rejected.

Law firms do not find it easy to monitor and assess the latest technologies. Their leaders are rarely interested in IT and tend to see it as a costly operational black box best passed along to someone with a screwdriver or to a partner who is a computer hobbyist with formidable credentials, perhaps in the self-assembly of mini-computers. Meanwhile, many legal technologists in firms insist on speaking about technology to their bosses in impenetrable technical jargon rather than English.

Linguistically, technically, and culturally, there is a gulf in most law firms between managing partners and IT directors (or, if you will, chief technology—or even information—officers). And so, when a new technology surfaces, there rarely is a well-established process by which its relevance and impact can be assessed. Senior lawyers are rarely plugged into the world of technology innovation, while technologists may not recognize the way in which an innovation might be harnessed by legal practitioners.The result is that law firms are often late in noticing and adopting beneficial technologies, decisions about what systems to use are determined by what other firms are doing, leaders feel out of touch, and technologists have disproportionate power in selecting systems.

It is into this disturbing void that Nicole Black is launching her much-needed book on cloud computing for lawyers. There can be no doubt that cloud computing is of immense significance for our economic and social lives. And yet, until now, it has been hard for lawyers to understand what it is all about, where it is going, what the risks and benefits might be, and how it could affect the practice of law. Technologists have been enthusing about the cloud for some time now, but this energy has rarely been channeled into focused business thinking in legal circles. Law firm leaders will have heard of the cloud, but may well have rejected it as the latest round of techno-speak.

What is needed is some way of accelerating lawyers’ understanding of a major new development. In relation to cloud computing, this book provides the way. Written by an individual who understands the law and technology, it is a punchy primer for lawyers who want to grasp the potential of cloud computing and do so quickly. The book clarifies the obscure, dispels misconceptions, and helps us see what life might be like when our information and software is not in held our laps but stored, out there, in a constellation of machines owned and run by others. The benefits of this set-up for lawyers and clients are compellingly explained, but so too are the risks.

Written in unpretentious and often light-hearted prose, and peppered with memorable anecdotes, Nicole Black succeeds in demystifying cloud computing. Vitally, in providing a source that is accessible to law firm leaders and their technologists, the book should help bridge that disturbing gulf between them.I wish the work every success.

Professor Richard Susskind

OBE London, England

October 2011

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