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For the second year in a row, Corporate Counsel surveyed Fortune 500 companies about their legal department technology. The 103 businesses that responded told us that they’re staying the course. According to the survey, about half of company law departments say they are spending about the same this year on technology as they did in 2003. Most law departments continue to have just the bare basics — a standard operating system and business software, a groupware program, and some form of matter management software. Only 45 percent of respondents say they have made inroads into electronic data discovery, and just 37 percent say they have developed electronic knowledge management systems for cataloging their work product. Companies are unplugged when it comes to outside counsel, too. A tiny 21 percent of respondents said that they have access to their outside counsel’s knowledge management system, and just under half — 41 percent — say they receive electronic bills from their law firms. But in a few targeted areas companies are becoming more high-tech. The Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform law continues to reverberate outside the boardroom. A majority — 53 percent — of our respondents have decided to supply compliance or other training programs for workers online. This is a huge jump from last year’s survey, when only a quarter reported doing so. Also, we learned that the traditional desktop PC seems to be on its way out; two-thirds of the lawyers in the legal departments surveyed use a laptop computer, even in the office. But the stereotype of the busy in-house attorney always in touch with the office via a BlackBerry is an exaggeration; only half of our respondents supply them to lawyers. For a company-by-company breakdown of our results, see the chart. We also highlight other survey findings throughout the report. We also look at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company — one business that’s spending money on high tech — and doing it right [ see Mutual Satisfaction]. The Boston-based insurer went through a wrenching modernization, and in the process, Liberty’s lawyers proved that they could handle a huge litigation caseload faster and cheaper than outside counsel. The company’s 768 lawyers went from paper and pen and not being able to share documents to complete digital integration, with all the bells and whistles, in only a few short years. It was nothing less than a cultural revolution. The lesson? Investing in tech can pay dividends in improved productivity — and reduced outside counsel costs.

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