Technology is an essential part of any modern practicing attorney’s toolkit. In Tad’s Tech Corner, join me as I discuss how to best utilize technology– both from a device and software standpoint– during your daily lawyering tasks and during trial. Discussions, as always, are welcome in the comments section below.
— Tad Thomas
Whether you’ve been practicing law for only a few years or multiple decades, it’s likely the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the way you navigate a trial. In the wake of non-essential business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, so many individuals are relying even more on their legal representatives for guidance during this difficult time.
Even with the strongest case under your belt, heading to trial and arguing on your client’s behalf can be stressful. When you add a worldwide pandemic to the mix, everything becomes that much more complicated. In order to stay relevant and achieve successful trial outcomes, it’s important to keep your tech tools up-to-date. Let’s take a look at five essential tech tools, both trial tools and general law firm tools, you need to handle trials during COVID-19.
1) Practice Management Software
Regardless of the size of your law firm, you’ll benefit from using practice management software. If you’re preparing for trial during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are organized and ready to provide your client with the best possible representation.
Depending on your firm’s situation, you may be working with fewer staff members than you’re used to. Because of that, you may need to manage your contacts, calendars, invoicing, time-tracking, internal and external communications, and financial data on your own. When you use practice management software, it will make balancing those tasks and data significantly easier.
There are a number of programs out there to choose from, so it’s important to choose the one that will benefit your firm the most. A few of the top software currently on the market include Filevine, Clio, MyCase, and Bill4Time.
2) Cloud Storage Options
Cloud-based storage options and technologies can help a law firm accommodate growth in remote working, as well as reduce the spread of COVID-19. Whether you’re physically in the courtroom or you’re attending a trial virtually, having cloud storage allows the data you need to be easily accessible. Two of the most common programs used as cloud storage are Dropbox and Google Drive. They let you access important files and information while you’re on the go, but also give you the ability to download documents directly to your hard-drive to have when internet access is not available.
As a lawyer, you know that one of your main priorities is keeping your client’s information protected. It’s your ethical responsibility under the model rules to safeguard their sensitive and personal information. Fortunately, measures like two-factor authentication can help you do that when you’re utilizing a cloud storage option.
3) Live Chat Feature for Websites
If your firm doesn’t already use a live chat system on its website, like Simply Convert, it’s time to consider making the upgrade. With more people stuck at home, those who are pursuing legal representation are likely going to scour the internet for a firm they can trust. If your website is welcoming and lets them speak to someone right away about their potential legal case, you’re more likely to bring on a new client.
In regard to how this helps you during trial, you won’t have to worry about balancing clients or thinking about who is seeking your help while you’re in the midst of a case. Instead, your website’s live chat feature will enable you to maintain strong relationships with current clients and build relationships with future clients.
It’s important to keep in mind the American Bar Association’s Ethics and Regulations regarding online marketing when you’re implementing a live chat feature.
4) Online Research Tools
Given how cases and trials are handled, it’s likely your law firm already utilizes paid and free online legal research tools. Those tools, however, are even more important now that many of us are working from home and handling clients’ legal matters virtually.
If you’re looking to strengthen a client’s case or new evidence has come to light during trial and you need to conduct legal research in order to understand how best to proceed, it’s important to have access to reliable research tools. Two of the largest are Westlaw and LexisNexis.
5) Video Conferencing With Clients
With the nature of the pandemic, a significant portion of legal work is now done virtually. Instead of meeting with clients and heading into the courtroom, it’s likely you’re having more phone calls and video conferences than ever before. Communication can seem like the biggest barrier to providing proper legal representation right now, but with the right technology, you’ll still be able to help your clients.
As you’ve probably heard, software like Zoom is incredibly popular right now. Zoom offers a full suite of video conferencing and communication tools for law firms and businesses of all kinds. With this program, you’d have access to video meetings, voice calls, webinars, messaging, and filing sharing. You’ll be able to stay in touch with your clients and ensure everyone is on the same page with how a trial is proceeding.
One of the easiest ways to access video conferencing software is with an iPad. As a trial tool, you can wirelessly display your presentation through an Apple TV. You also have the option of using a wireless Ipevo camera to display documents and evidence.
While these tech tools are essential for handling trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that these tools and programs will become staples for many law firms even as the pandemic wanes. In order to provide strong legal representation, make sure your law firm is up-to-date with the latest technology—regardless of what’s going on in the world.
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