Some lawyers like technology and some lawyers despise technology. When it comes to law practice technology, there are generally two types of failures. First, is the lawyer who resists technology and doesn’t use the huge time saving benefits of email, electronic calendaring, and case management systems. Second, is the lawyer who loves technology so much that all she does is play with the latest new toy and doesn’t get any work done.
On the one hand, those who hate law practice technology also have to deal with the very real problem that the analog practice of law is inefficient, unproductive, and even incompetent. On the other hand, for those who love law practice technology there exist a real danger that their productivity and time management might actually suffer from the tech used in the law practice.
To survive in the legal marketplace today and going forward, I am convinced that lawyers must adapt, or die.
I’ve said this for years when I hear lawyers complaining about the number of new lawyers entering the marketplace. There is good cause for the complaint lawyers because, as Luke Ciciliano points out, there are 55,000 fewer law jobs since 2007 but 172,203 more lawyers since that year. So the increase in supply compared to the decrease in demand means less work for all attorneys.To survive in the legal marketplace today and going forward, I am convinced that lawyers must adapt, or die. Click To Tweet
Ceciliano wrote a series about the failings of law firms in 2017 and beyond and I’ll point you to his posts here:
- There Will Be Fewer Law Firms After 2017
- Why Law Firms are Failing.
- Cultural Changes Will Eliminate Law Firms In 2017
- Technology Will Reduce the Number of Law Firms in 2017
- Technology and Automation Will Hurt Attorneys
- The Future of Law Firms After 2017
- Law Firms Will Fail in 2017 – Series Wrap Up
For most lawyers this is all doom and gloom. For On Demand Lawyers, this is opportunity. But if we won’t adapt, we will die.
For solo and small firm lawyers, there are those who stick their heads in the sand when it comes to law practice technology. This puts them at a competitive disadvantage. For those solos and small firm lawyers who want to survive, there are a few pieces of technology that they must implement in their law practice today:
1. Case Management System
If you don’t have a case management system at this point, you have to get one now. Look at all of the options out there and sign up for a free trial. Your options may be many and overwhelming, but if you don’t start now you will never start. The ABA has a guide to help you sort through all of the many options out there. Just a few things you need in a case management system include:
- Client portal
- Contact Management
- Communication & Team Communication
- Task Management
- Document Management
- Automated Workflows
- Document Automation
- Time and Billing Solutions
- Online Payments
- Mobile Access
To name a few. Use your case management system as a selling point for clients. By using this system every single day you will stand out above the crowd. Explain that to your clients and potential clients. This is an added value for the client.
2. Paperless Office
It is 2017. If you haven’t thought about going paperless to date, do it now! Studies show that lawyers waste on average 6 hours each week on document management issues. But if your system were fool proof and paperless, with documents where they are supposed to be, the amount of time you spend searching for documents should be reduced exponentially. Further, you don’t have to carry paper around to serve your clients. All you need is a tablet and perhaps a stylus.
If we are going to succeed in the future, we have to stop wasting time doing meaningless things. Searching for files and documents is meaningless work. How much time each week do you waste? The solution is to implement systems and processes that will enable you to work from anywhere and get more done when you are at your desk.
3. Document Automation
If you spend time copying and pasting information from one form to another, you are wasting time, you are increasing risk for human error, and living in the 20th century. If you implement a case management system for your law practice, then you ought to be able to automate those documents that you produce on a daily basis. Whether it is a medical records request, a set of discovery requests, or a complaint, you can automate that document. You can produce it with the click of just a few buttons. This time saver will allow you to focus more on your business and less on mundane, meaningless work. If you are going to survive in the new legal marketplace, you have to increase your efficiencies. This is one of the easiest ways to eliminate inefficiency.
This technology is essential in a law office in 2017. But lawyers should be careful not to fall into either category of law practice technology failures. First, don’t stick your head in the sand. Second, don’t become so enamored with technology that you don’t get anything done. I’ve been guilty of the second failure (but never the first). I submit that the second is just as damning as the first.
When it comes to implementing law practice technology, you have to ask yourself a few questions:
- Will this increase my efficiency if I use it as intended?
- Will I use it as it is intended?
- Can I train my staff to use this program religiously?
- Will this program provide an added value to my clients?
Perhaps you don’t know the answer to these questions. That is ok. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk about it either on our podcast or on the blog. We are here to help you be more productive and surviving in this challenging and ever changing legal marketplace.