Setting up your law firm’s technology systems can be a daunting task. After all, it’s one of the many things not covered in the basic law school curriculum. And technology is changing at such an incredibly fast rate that it often seems impossible to keep up. That’s why many lawyers go the route of sticking their heads in the sand and conducting business as usual, foregoing all but the most basic aspects of technology.
However, astute lawyers know that’s simply an untenable course of action. Learning about technology in small bites and then selectively incorporating technology into a law practice is the best way to streamline your law firm and provide the best client service possible. The trick is finding helpful legal technology resources and making time to learn about and utilize the right technology tools for your law firm’s specific needs.
ABA Techshow is always a great place to start this education process. In fact, earlier this year, there was a seminar held on choosing technology for law firms, during which Rochelle Washington and Brian Focht offered their collective wisdom and legal technology tips. The presentation was titled “Beyond Baby Steps: Technology For Infrastructure,” and while Brian and Rochelle talked legal technology, Stephanie Crowley took visual notes of this session on behalf of MyCase.
Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with some of our favorite tips and links to sites that provide further information (click to view larger image):
1. Choose the right computer system
The presenters started off by discussing how to choose the right hardware for your office. This decision will affect most every other decision you make when it comes to technology in your law firm, so it’s important to ensure that you choose hardware that is a good fit for your law firm’s needs and goals. As the presenters explained, you first need to decide whether to use Macs or PCs. For more discussion on the benefits of each and the ramifications for your law firm, check out this informative post. Next consider whether you even need a fax machine and then choose the right scanner and printer for your firm’s needs. Finally, the presenters recommended using multiple monitors to help streamline your workflow.
2. Consider using cloud-based legal software
According to the presenters, cloud-based computing makes a lot of sense for 21st century law firms. First, it provides seamless, 24/7 access to your firm’s data. Second, cloud computing software is affordable and saves your law firm time and money. Another benefit is that cloud-based legal software is often updated frequently, giving you access to new features on a regular basis. For more on cloud computing and how lawyers are using it in their law practices, check out this infographic.
3. Use law practice management software
Another recommendation from the presenters was to consider using law practice management software in your law firm. Doing so makes it easy for you to stay on top of all aspects of your practice, including your contacts, calendaring, court deadlines, online collaboration with clients, time tracking and billing, invoicing, and more. The presenters suggested testing out a few different practice management systems to find the one that works best for you and your staff. For more tips on choosing the right software for your law firm, make sure to read this ebook.
4. Take advantage of client portals for communication
Finally, the presenters encouraged lawyers to consider using a web-based portal for client communication. They explained that web-based client portals are a more secure, convenient way to communicate with clients — especially since 21st century clients are used to having 24/7 access to information. So by using a portal you’re able to meet their expectations and provide the best client service possible. Many law practice management software programs include built-in client portals, through which you can communicate and collaborate with clients, share documents and invoices, receive online payments for outstanding invoices and more. To learn more about how online portals result in happier clients–and lawyers–check out this infographic.