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Patriot missiles, AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships, B-52 bombers. In the first few days of the war against Iraq, the Pentagon’s powerful arsenal went to work. State-of-the art tools, we were reminded, make all the difference. Lobbying for the latest and greatest technology isn’t unique to the military. General counsel and their IT administrators have made the same pitch for years, but with little success. In our first survey of in-house technology — at 79 Fortune 500 companies with a combined total of over 5,000 attorneys — we learned that most of you are “Techno Have-Nots” (page 83). Sure, you’ve got a laptop on your desk embedded with Microsoft Office and Outlook. However, that’s where your tech resources end, according to survey data compiled by research editor Rosemarie Clancy and her team. Your IT personnel have improvised with these programs, making them fit the law department’s needs. But when it comes to the heavy artillery, in-house lawyers are unprepared. Extranets, electronic invoicing from outside counsel, electronic systems for storing and cataloging data are in fewer than half of the law departments surveyed. Reporter Ashby Jones found that financial constraints and communication problems with upper management were largely to blame. We know that “legal” is a cost center and that capital budgets are tight. But insufficient technological resources may harm a corporation in the years to come. With Sarbanes-Oxley now the law of the land, in-house lawyers must supply the government with more data about their companies. Compiling that information the old-fashioned way is slow and inefficient and could lead to inaccurate reports or missed deadlines, if not legal penalties. So read on. In our master chart (page 92), we’ll tell you who among your Fortune 500 colleagues are on the leading edge and doing everything right. And, more importantly, who isn’t.

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