A a partner at my firm said someing that surprised me today:
“That is a lot of change.”.
Putting things in perspective, this partner, like many at my firm, is very capable with technology.

We have some major IT projects happening this year at my firm. Hardware, software, training. These along with regular additions of new lateral hires, minor renovations to add more places for people to work, new students, new legislation, new governments, and as Yul Brynner would say, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

How much change is TOO much? Is there a maximum capacity for learning new things in a fixed period of time? Does this change as a person ages?

My family suggests that there are too many factors that would impact these questions. Factors like aptitude, the particular skills that a person brings to the task, how complex the change is, and so forth. The teenagers in my house say that age (meaning oldies like their parental units) is definitely a factor. The Mireau suggests that capacity for learning is something that can be personally incubated.

What do you think?


  1. Kathleen Hogan

    Great post and question, Shaunna. At least a few lawyers I’ve spoken with recently (my firm also had some major IT change in the last year) agree that age is a factor. One in particular used to consider himself a techie – learned and implemented all kinds of tech tools and workflows into his practice 10-15 years ago, but now finds re-upping with new technology too difficult. He actually wants to learn, but says he can no longer process it as easily.

    I wonder if he’s also simply much busier (all the technology leveraging allowed him to create a very successful practice!) and not quite as focussed as he once was on learning.

  2. I do think it is personal, and connected with the particular change in question. If the person wants the change, then it is not as stressful. If it is a change he or she does not want, it will be a lot more stressful.

    One thing I’ve learned from change management courses with Peter de Jager is that you want to avoid changing too many things at once.

    It is also possible that people are undergoing significant changes in their personal lives: family changes, health, career. So, if their whole world is changing around them they may feel disconnected which will amplify the effect.

  3. Michael/Lawviathan

    Not knowing what technology is being implemented, I’ll make the (possibly incorrect) assumption that it is standard enterprise software. For some reason business buy custom software solutions that offer a miserable user experience and have really expensive upkeep. A key trend in web startups in particular is the increased focus on “user centered design”. Twitter/FB and even Google have become incrementally more complicated as they add features, but small startups that just focus on one core experience are getting better at making that experience readily accessible. So, I think where you find your technology has a lot to do with how able you are to keep up with it.