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Firms Take DIY Approach to Tech, but With Limits

Immigration services firm Fragomen recently announced that it's opening a new center in Pittsburgh, staffed with up to 50 employees, where it will develop or redevelop much of its software and cybersecurity technology in-house.

Fragomen's aggressive do-it-yourself approach to technology sets it apart in the industry. But leaders at several Pennsylvania-born law firms insisted it isn't all that different from what they're doing themselves—even if their firms only plan to tackle so much tech innovation on their own.


Competitive Advantage

All of these firms gave two simple reasons for their in-house tech investments: cost and differentiation. By using their own staff to make a tool, they can tailor it to the needs of a particular practice or client. And taking the DIY route is often less costly than outsourcing the job.

"With purchased applications ... you're really at the mercy of the vendor," said Don White, Blank Rome's director of application systems. Having in-house developers lessens the firm's reliance on vendors, he said, and gives the firm more detailed knowledge of how the technology and its security features work.


Eventually, offering tailored technology, including client-facing applications, will be the standard, said David Cybulski, Blank Rome's director of business intelligence.

"You wouldn't go to a bank that didn't offer online banking," he said. "How that's going to show up for a law firm isn't known yet."

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"Firms Take DIY Approach to Tech, but With Limits," by Lizzy McLellan was published in The Legal Intelligencer on July 13, 2017.