May 14, 2014
1) The legal profession is behind the technology curve;
2) Legal professionals need more time in a day; and
3) Change is good,
I suggest that small law firms consider a change in legal technology as a way to make every minute count and ultimately increase profitability.
The first discussion in our series on technology change, written by Kevin Murch, emphasized that not all change is good—only change for the better. The second, by Malobi Achike, called attention to three “red flags” within your legal business: 1) Lack of mobility and flexibility; 2) Manual performance of tasks; and 3) Social media. If you, as a legal professional, take time to focus on these red flags, and set a goal to reduce two hours a week related to these flags, you will increase firm profits.
My colleagues were right on, and here are a few easy ways that small firms can implement today’s legal technology to address the red flags within your business:
- Lack of mobility and flexibility: You’re an attorney and you’re on the move between office and courtroom when a client calls you with a pressing question. You don’t know the answer. You proceed with a phone call to your legal assistant. You relay the question to her and ask her to find someone to conduct the research necessary to properly answer the question. She tracks down a law clerk. This takes approximately 30 minutes. You step into the courtroom fairly confident the answer to your client’s question will be waiting for you when you’re finished. Consider an alternative approach. You’re on the move but you’re equipped with a mobile device that provides you access to your research platform, your “know how” legal content, and your time & billing tool. Now you can answer your client’s question quickly and without concern the answer is accurate. Further, you won’t forget to track your precious billable time.
- Manual performance of tasks: It’s the night before trial and you’re practicing your closing argument. You’re positioned to win; confidant in your preparedness. Suddenly your phone rings and it’s your document review clerk. She is panicked because she just realized she missed a crucial document during the review process; the needle in the haystack. The process was manual: stacks and stacks of printed paper, NTFS, CD-roms, and flash drives. Are you surprised by the miss? Consider an alternative approach. All of your paper is scanned, made text searchable and loaded into a secure, e-Discovery document review and production platform. All of your ESI is loaded into the same platform; all Discovery is in the same place. With the entry of search query, sophisticated or simple, you search the entire library of documents for the needle in the haystack. Not only do you find the document within seconds, you eliminate the fear of error.
- Social Media: You are a 5th year partner at a well established law firm where the named partners still try cases. They are the attorneys that built the firm from the ground up. A few years ago, a marketing initiative was dropped on your desk. Your goal was to increase firm name recognition beyond the individual names on the door. As it stood, any name recognition was the result of the named partners and their dedication to a life-long career. A decision was made to rebuild the firm’s website, which proved valuable and worth the effort but expensive and time consuming. Today, three years later, the same marketing initiative is back on your desk. You recall your decision to rebuild the website was in large part the result of the firm’s overall reluctance to embrace social media. Consider an alternative approach. You walk the halls on a Friday afternoon and poll the office; the entire office. You insist that each attorney and member of the legal staff create (or update) a LinkedIn profile that includes the name and website of the firm. 50 LinkedIn profiles, results in 50 more mentions of your firm with zero dollars spent. This small embrace of social media will not only increase firm name recognition (and for Web-savvy attorneys, increase your firm’s SEO), it will move the firm one step further from “behind the technology curve”. Further, this small change will demonstrate how change is good, and who knows? It may lead to acquisition of that much needed e-Discovery platform.