Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Wave -- A New Wave of Communicating

Communicating with clients is the bane of most attorney's existence, especially when you couple the need to communicate with the client, while maintaining the need to keep the case file up to date and accessible to all the staff and know what everyone is doing or has done on a case and to make sure it all gets done when the deadlines arise and then finding all of that information when you need it and it is really long and hard (like trying to comprehend this sentence).

Enter the newest technological wonder:

I've been reading up on Google Wave and using it for real time office collaboration now for about a month. It has been described in a lot of different ways -- email on crack being one of my favorite. Yet that description is woefully inadequate.

Here is my best shot at describing how it works:

Imagine a personalized web site that allows you to select who can see the website and who can add to the web site with the ease associated with normal computer tasks like double clicking, answering email or 'drag and drop'. The activities on this personalized web page can include links to documents, videos and images. Any changes on the web page can be seen by anyone looking at it as they happen or in a web version of instant replay.

Douglas Merrill in his book Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right writes "when we don’t adapt our old ways of communicating to better suit a new medium, we fail to exploit all the possibilities and benefits inherent to that medium."

The puns are inevitable, but Waves are the wave of the future. In the tumultuous ocean of communications, a Wave is more like the boat that keeps a group from getting lost amongst all the other waves.

I had my first experiment in implementing two Waves for two new clients on Saturday. I gave each client their own Wave where all of their case information was contained and where they can immediately leave a message for everyone in the office any time and any where they have an Internet connection. Already, one client has contacted me with new phone numbers they got on Saturday.

Here is beginning a list of Wave benefits:

  1. Real time collaboration with the client and the entire office.
  2. Documentation of everything that takes place in a case in one location.
  3. Word searchable case files.
  4. Employees are not tethered to the office or even a VPN connection to do work within the office.
  5. Potential for easing communication with opposing counsel and other parties.
This is a new means of communication and integration with existing modes of communication are a little muddled at this point. More on those struggles later, but I'm enjoying my new experience of surfing on the Wave.

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