5 Things 21st Century Lawyers Should be Thankful for in 2013


(Photo credit: Saucy Salad)

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. This means that, in addition to stuffing our faces with delicious food and spending time with our loved ones and family friends, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and express gratitude for the good things in life.

For modern lawyers, this is an easy task, since there’s so much to be thankful for as 2013 nears its end. After all, where would modern law practices be without all of the modern tools and technological innovations of the 21st century? Lawyers would still practicing law, of course, but without the following conveniences to which we’ve all become accustomed:

1) Flexibility. Mobile and cloud computing have made it easier than ever to practice law and manage your law practice no matter where you happen to be. All you need is an Internet-enabled device and you can instantly conduct legal research, communicate with clients via email or a secure client portal, review and revise documents, or manage your law practice. 21st century lawyering has never been easier or more convenient and it’s all because of the rise of mobile and cloud computing.

2) 24/7 access. While a mixed blessing, most lawyers would agree that the benefits of 24/7 access more than outweigh the drawbacks. This is because, when your data is stored in the cloud, your files are always instantly available, whether you’re in court, on vacation, or working from home. The convenience of always having your case-related information right at your fingertips cannot be ignored. And it’s a simple matter to disconnect for a while if you need a break–just turn off your device. But it’s the ability to reconnect when it matters most–when a client has a sudden emergency or your office needs your immediate signature on a document–that makes 24/7 access worth its weight and gold.

3) Expanded reach. For law firms, like most other businesses, the Internet provides an incredible platform for business development. Costly yellow pages and television advertising have essentially been replaced by much more affordable websites and online directories. These tools make it easier than ever for potential clients to find you. Social media adds to the mix and expands your reach on a dime, simplifying the process of connecting and interacting with potential customers and referral sources. That’s not to say that more traditional types of business development, such as reputation and word of mouth, have been replaced; but for many lawyers, online business development is a big part of their business plan and their success.

4) Increased networking and mentorship opportunities. Social media is more than just a way to reach potential clients–it’s also a great way to connect with colleagues. Whether through social media, blogging, or online forums, these platforms allow lawyers with similar interests and practice areas to interact and share information. And once the online connection is made, it’s a simple matter to take things offline–whether it’s a phone call, coffee, or meeting in person at a conference. Using online platforms, relationships are forged which can often lead to valuable, enriching lifelong connections.

5) More choices than ever. The bottom line: the beauty of 21st technologies is that these tools give lawyers more choices than ever. Because of cloud and mobile computing, lawyers have more flexibility and can work from virtually anywhere. Home  and virtual offices are now realities that were previously unheard of. Lawyers can now start a solo practice on a dime, whether from a home or virtual office, and then (should they choose to do so) expand to a more traditional office as their practices grow. Online legal research is more accessible and affordable than ever before, as are law practice management software and trial presentation programs. These days, lawyers have more choices than ever before.

So this Thanksgiving, when you consider all the things for which you have to be grateful, give a passing nod to 21st century legal technologies. These tools allow you to streamline your law practice so that you can spend even more time with the people for whom you are most thankful: your friends and family.

–Nicole Black

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