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
Technology is an imperative part of any successful business—including those in the legal industry. If you own or operate a law firm when was the last time you took a look at your firm’s technology and how it’s working for staff and clients?
Legal technology is in a constant state of movement. If you don’t keep up, you could be operating with legacy software and hardware that could significantly impact your bottom line. To reduce the chances of hurting your business, it’s crucial to understand how to establish the strongest possible technology infrastructure for your firm.
Determining a Firm’s Technological Needs
Every law firm is different and has different goals. Technology plays a big part in trial attorneys meeting those goals. As such, it’s important to understand the technological needs of your office.
In general, there are three parties you need to consider when determining how to build a solid tech plan for your firm. Those parties include the attorneys, the clients, and the company.
In terms of attorney needs, you and your attorneys need to be able to rely on the firm’s technology to communicate with clients effectively. They also need to be able to maximize caseloads and accurately track time.
Consider what the relationships are like between your attorneys and your clients. Your clients need to know how to reach you and feel like you communicate with them regularly and effectively. They should also be able to obtain the most up-to-date information about their cases.
Finally, your law firm as a whole needs to stay organized and productive. If your IT infrastructure doesn’t support that, you could suffer with collaboration, expenses, case management, and more. So to continue to succeed and thrive, let’s take a look at the software your firm needs.
Software All Attorneys Need
Your law firm needs to have certain standard software to function as a business in the modern world. Examples include Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. With those, you will be able to handle most documents and PDFs. Some attorneys also swear by Google Suite. It all depends on what you want to use and what you need to ensure success.
If you’re looking to upgrade your Microsoft Office package, you can have nearly your entire firm running off its programs. From calendars to email and presentation software, everything will be compatible. Depending on what you need, however, a firm management software could be helpful as well.
Don’t forget that along with that software, you need reliable hardware that you know how to troubleshoot if needed. At a minimum, you should have computers, phones, a laser printer, and a documents scanner. If you’re not the most tech-savvy, you could benefit from hiring an IT Specialist.
How to Upgrade a Law Firm’s IT Infrastructure
With how quickly the legal industry changes, it’s important to ensure the inner workings of your firm are as up-to-date as possible. This will ultimately increase your productivity and profitability.
There are certain signs to watch for to indicate it may be time for some updates or upgrades. First, take note when productivity slows down. Certain software or hardware could be at the end of its life. Also, keep an eye on billing and invoicing and how long those processes are taking. Finally, listen to client feedback to see if there are technologies that could improve relationships and potentially draw new clients to your firm.
There are a number of benefits to upgrading your technology. To start, upgrades can often eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks, which will help staff focus on productive tasks. It will also be easier to maintain a high level of transparency with clients in terms of contracts and billing.
When you fully take advantage of the technology your firm has, research and developing reports will be easier, and you’ll be able to remain in contact with your team and clients no matter where you are or what’s going on.
Developing a Law Office Procedures Manual