In 2019, technology has dramatically affected our lives, changing the ways that we interact, communicate, and transact business. In the business arena, technology has been particularly impactful, saving companies time and money by streamlining day-to-day processes and increasing productivity.
The legal profession hasn’t been immune from this trend, and law firms are adopting 21st century legal technologies at a rapid clip. This is because law firm leaders understand the importance of taking advantage of modern legal technology tools and software.
For evidence of this, you need look no further than the results from the ABA’s most recent Legal Technology Survey Report, which show that technology spend is increasing for many firms. According to the Report, 45% of law firms increased their technology budgets in 2018. Notably, firms are prioritizing spend on software designed to help lawyers manage their firms, like practice management, document management, and time and billing, and the average spend on law firm management software in 2018 was $5,663, up from $4,673 in 2015.
No doubt your firm is also considering adopting new technologies into your firm’s arsenal this year. If so, you’re likely wondering how to go about choosing and vetting legal technology for your law firm. Fortunately for you, this very topic was covered by two experts in February at the ABA Techshow in Chicago. During this presentation – “Choosing and Vetting Technology: Avoid Indecision Paralysis,” – Sharon Nelson and Jeffrey Richardson offered plenty of tips and strategies to help you choose the right technology tools and software for your small law firm.
Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with 3 of our favorite tips:
Steps to take when choosing technology for your law firm
According to the presenters, when considering new technology for your law firm, always think of the client first. Choose technology that provides sufficient protections for your law firm’s confidential client data, while also ensuring that the technology is client-driven and improves the experiences of your clients with your firm.
One example of technology that accomplishes both goals is client portals. These not only protect and encrypt client communication and collaboration, they also are client-friendly and allow your clients to access all of their important case-related information in a single, centralized, and secure online location.
Another important step that the presenters recommended prior to investing in new technology for your law firm is to have a security audit conducted. A security assessment will help your firm identify any critical vulnerabilities so that you can take that information into account when determining the technology tools that your firm needs.
Steps to take when choosing legal software for your law firm
The presenters also offered advice on choosing the right legal software for your small law firm. First, they emphasized the importance of determining the type of software that your firm needs. Do you need stand-alone document management software, legal time and billing software, payment processing software, or full-fledged law practice management software suite that includes all of those features?
Once you’ve made that assessment, the next step is to carefully research your options. According to the presenters, there are a number of ways to do that, including:
- Legal software buying guides
- Legal blogs
- CLEs and conferences
- Legal technology surveys
- Bar associations
- Practice management advisors
Then, once you’ve conducted your research and narrowed down your selection to a few vendors, you’ll need to take some time to research the vendors and their products. The key to choosing the right one for your law firm is to carefully research each provider and ensure that you thoroughly understand the features available and the pricing structure of the product. For many of the products, your firm will have to pay more than the base cost in order to have access to the specific features that are essential for your law firm’s needs. So make sure that you fully understand what you’re getting at any given price point.
Secure your firm’s data with encryption
Last, but not least, the presenters repeatedly stressed the importance of securing your law firm’s data using software tools that include sufficient levels of encryption. For starters, it’s important to ensure that your firm’s hardware and devices are encrypted and password-protected.
The presenters also recommended another layer of security be added by taking advantage of dual-factor authentication whenever possible. This security feature alerts users whenever logins are detected from unfamiliar devices or computers.
Another important security feature to use, as explained by the presenters, is wifi router encryption. This protects your firm’s wifi from prying eyes and protects your law firm’s data in the process.
And last, but not least, the presenters emphasized the importance of providing secure communication channels. Options offered by the presenters include encrypted email or the secure client portals (discussed above) that are often built into legal practice management software.
Now that you’ve got lots of advice on choosing the right legal technology tools for your firm, selecting software designed for your firm’s needs is well within your reach. But, if you’d like to conduct even more research and obtain additional information to help you choose the right legal software for your law firm, then download these FREE ebooks today: