Google's Project Glass:
Should Lawyers be Worried About 24/7 Connectivity?

Image via Google

Last week, Google announced its most recent undertaking, Project Glass–the search engine giant’s latest foray into augmented reality. The interface consists of a sleek pair of glasses designed to provide the user with constant access to the information highway.

The glasses are not yet publicly available and are still undergoing testing, but the video below previews Google’s vision of the future: an always-connected world made possible through augmented reality.

At first glance, it’s an intriguing proposition: the glasses provide you with a constant stream of information about the world around you while simultaneously broadcasting your location, availability and experiences to your network of family, friends and colleagues.

In theory, this seamless interface with the information highway is supposed to simplify your life. Because you’re always connected and commands are voice activated, you’ll no longer have to, for example, type input into your phone when you want to make a call, take a picture or search for information on the Internet. Constant connectivity will lead to an efficiency never before seen. The world will be a better place.

Or will it?

Science fiction aficionados like myself are well aware of the potential risks involved when the line between humans and machines becomes blurred. One need look no further than the Borg, of Star Trek fame, for an example of this connection gone incredibly awry. In that case, great efficiency was gained, but at the unprecedented expense of humanity. In other words, the lesson to be learned is that the cost of efficiency sometimes comes at a hefty price.

Nevertheless, even if the thought 24/7 connectivity offends you, it seems likely that this is the direction that we, as a society, are headed. So what does that mean for lawyers? How do we control the non-stop barrage of information?  How do we reduce the toll taken by unlimited connectivity and our clients’ expectations of instantaneous access that come with it? How do we stay in step with the times, while controlling our what’s left of our sanity?

One way to do this is to empower your clients by expanding their access to information. Make it easy for them to obtain the information that they need about their case, no matter when they need it. In other words, ensure that your clients can get the information that they are seeking without having to contact you.

The best way to do this? Via an online portal. If you provide your clients with instantaneous access to information about their case, they can quickly and easily find answers to many of their most common questions. They’ll no longer need to contact you to find out their next court date or obtain a copy of a document from their file. Instead, your clients will have 24/7 access to their file and use their client portal to get whatever information they need.

Of course, client portals aren’t the answer to every problem posed by the promise of a future of constant connectivity. And client portals certainly aren’t going to save humanity from a future where hostile cyborg-enabled machines threaten our very existence. But for lawyers struggling to meet the expectations of clients accustomed to having 24/7 access to information, client portals can reduce your clients’ need to contact you by empowering them with the ability to obtain the information they need, right when they need it.

–Niki Black

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