Instant Collaboration, From Conference Calls to Instant Messaging

AuthorDennis Kennedy - Tom Mighell
Instant Collaboration—
From Conference Calls to
Instant Messaging
Choosing the right collaboration tool often depends on the
type of collaboration required, the context for the collabora-
tion, and its timing. The timing of collaboration can be sepa-
rated rather neatly into two categories: synchronous (occur-
ring at the same time or in real time) and asynchronous (not
occurring at the same time).
These are big words to describe concepts that have been
part of the practice of law since its beginning. Face-to-face
conversations and working meetings are forms of synchronous
collaboration. They are immediate and require the actual pres-
ence of the participants. There is a contemporaneous exchange
and back-and-forth to the conversation. With asynchronous
collaboration, work is done by message and contemporaneous
presence is not a requirement. For example, a lawyer sends
a letter, delivers a document by courier, or even leaves a file
folder with a sticky note on a colleague’s chair where it can be
seen first thing in the morning.
Today’s practice of law is increasingly asynchronous in
nature. As we discuss throughout this book, email is the pri-
mary default collaboration platform lawyers use today. Email
is also an excellent example of an asynchronous collaboration
tool. As practices become more global in nature, law firms have
increasing numbers of offices. Many lawyers work from home
or outside the traditional office, and it becomes more difficult
to coordinate meetings and conference calls. Asynchronous
collaboration techniques will naturally receive more attention

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