L.A. Firm Pursues Hollywood-Level Technology

In the city that brings you “CSI,” “Alias” and a dozen sci-fi movies a year, maybe it’s no surprise that a law firm wants fingerprint scanners on its attorneys’ laptops. Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory, a 200-lawyer Los Angeles firm, is deploying the biometric security measure in its new IBM Thinkpad Tablet PCs.

It’s not the first time Allen Matkins has been a law firm leader when it comes to introducing cutting-edge technology, asserts Frank Gillman, the firm’s IT director.

“What’s rare is for a corporate real estate firm to be a leader in new types of technology,? Gillman explained. “What forces most law firms into technological change is that they have to. Otherwise, they tend to be risk-averse and conservative.?

Riverbed Steelhead Appliances even did a case study on the firm’s recent implementation of its wide-area data services technology, which uses a distributed network to allow faster remote access for its attorneys and clients. Even if firms increase bandwidth, there are often latency issues when running a product from another location. With WDS, the software uses block-size distribution to send data in parts. When a document is changed, it only sends the changes, much like a Web page loads faster if it has already been loaded previously.

“From an attorney’s productivity standpoint, it means the ability to provide local access, regardless of location, without having to invest in a ridiculous amount of bandwidth,? Gillman explained.

John Gamble, the managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office, said he’s pleased Gillman is leading the way in improving the firm’s technological capacity.

“Trust me, it’s not something I read in tech manual last night — It’s Frank’s connection to the marketplace and his research of products,? Gamble said. “You don’t hear people talking about tech advancement and saving money. We’ve improved financially, and I think there is no doubt we see our networks operating better. “

For two years, the new WDS technology cost the firm $100,000, while it would have cost $350,000 to expand bandwidth to create faster transactions.

Gillman throws the credit back to the firm, saying he’s seen peers with similar visions who are hamstrung by their environment. When he was thinking of which firm to join nine years ago, he noticed that Allen Matkins was one of the first firms that took the leap to Microsoft Word. “At that time, it was almost heretical,? he said.

Gamble agreed that his firm is quick to embrace new technology: “I think we can turn our ship faster because we’re not encumbered by bureaucracy.?

Kellie Schmitt

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