This is Part III in a 3-Part Series on how law firm staff can influence positive technological change at a law firm. Read Part I here.
Finally, your moment has arrived. After laying the groundwork by gaining a full understanding of your law firm’s systems, and actually getting the managing partners to become willing to listen to your suggestions about your law firm’s tech stack, you get to make your case. This is your moment in the sun. So, don’t blow it! To that end, here’s what your presentation should look like, and how you can get your (existing and potential) tech vendors to help you make it:
How to Build Your Argument
You’ve previously identified the full measure of your technology infrastructure: You know what you have. You understand what’s lacking. You know how the system architecture should work together, via integrations. You have the answers to the test. But, also understand that the people you’re talking to, the attorney-decisionmakers, have not gone nearly as deep catalogue as you have, and that you also need to focus on high-level considerations, as well as the bottom line. So, create and identify a cost-benefit analysis. Identify the specific software tools you want to improve, and how. Identify the specific software tools or features you want to add, and why. Clearly articulate next steps. Keep in mind that you may only have one opportunity to present your ideas in a semi-public forum. Make it count.
Of course, you don’t need to acquire help only from internal sources. Law firm technology vendors are willing and able to help improve your position. Most lawyers/law firm staff view technology vendors as superfluous — which is odd considering the impact that legal technology has on law practice, especially today. Attorneys want a demo, and then to be left alone while they stew over their decision. You’re gonna be smarter than that. You’re going to engage your vendors fully. You’re going to be inquisitive when you get a demo. You’re going to follow-up and stay in contact as new questions arise. You’re going to ask your vendor contact to look at your proposal drafts. You’re gonna ask them to supplement your cost-benefit analysis with their own materials. If you view this as a partnership situation with your potential vendors, you’ll be armed with the right kind of information and technical support, as you move forward. You got this.
If you can get the go-ahead to at least explore your options in terms of technology, then build a team. Again, you never want to be making this argument alone, like a solitary voice in the wilderness. Find your fellow support staff, who will best support your choices, as well as sympathetic attorney decison-makers, and build a ‘technology advancement’ team. This is the group that you will make your choices with, and with whom you’ll take the next steps. What may start as a nugget from a partner in a meeting, and evolves into a presentation from you in a broader meeting, should conclude with a unified approach (led by you) delivered by a group of individuals seeking positive change.
Don’t Give Up!
This is not going to happen overnight; so, you need to stay on it. If this languishes, it’s your responsibility to bring it back up, and keep bringing it back up: to your supporters, at meetings. Be the thorn in the side, that eventually needs to be plucked. Push for a yes or a no. The sales cycle is really long for attorneys, whether you’re selling technology internally or externally. Stay the course, abide by your timeline.
Don’t Be Offended.
In the end, some loathsome attorney who has no idea how to turn on his computer is going to end up taking credit for everything you’ve done. Don’t be offended: Your ultimate reward is making more money and getting home earlier.
About the author
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. Red Cave also works with legal institutions and legal-facing corporations to develop programming and content. A former practicing attorney, Jared has been advising lawyers and law firms for over a decade. He is a regular presenter at local, regional and national events, including ABA TECHSHOW. He regularly contributes to legal publications, including his column, ‘Managing,’ for Attorney at Work, and his ‘Law Practice Confidential’ advice column for Lawyerist. Jared is the author of the American Bar Association publication ‘Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers’. He is the host of the Legal Toolkit podcast on Legal Talk Network. Jared also teaches for Concord Law School, Suffolk University Law School and Solo Practice University. He loves James Taylor, but respects Ron Swanson; and, he tries to sneak Rolos when no one is looking.