January 15, 2016
Editor’s Note: This series, Firm Resolutions, is written by small law firm consultant Jared Correia. For a jumpstart on your resolutions, request a free trial of Firm Central, Thomson Reuters’ practice management software.
The underlying theme of this series has been that it is important to reevaluate your law firm practices from time to time; and, the start of a new year is as good an occasion as any to do so. In the prior posts of this series, we’ve considered distinct advantages attached to improving time capture and billing techniques, revising data security protocols and appropriately vetting cloud technology vendors and refreshing calendar management and resetting workflows.
Even limiting a description of potential advantages to the items discussed in the first three posts of this series, aggressively moving to establish new systems allows law firms to reduce risk and save time, to increase revenue and collect on a greater percentage of billing and to better leverage technology for efficiency and security.
And, for a modern law practice, having the right technology is more important than ever, if for no other reason than that attorneys now rely more on technology to get their work done than they have at any other point in history. Even at this late stage, though, there are lawyers who continue to grumble about technology — those who view it as a barrier to continuing to work using preferred past methodologies, rather than as a series of tools allowing for added speed and a release from the traditional idealization of overwork.
In many cases, of course, attorney who scoff at technology, misunderstand it. And, much of law firms’ issues with technology can be exposed as self-inflicted wounds, especially in the context of an industry where lawyers brag on using outdated technology, because it saves them some relatively minimal amount of money against the technology budget, while costing them far more than that in terms of employee performance.
But, for those lawyers who recognize the value of maintaining updated technology applications, there are some baseline considerations to address, that are not tied to specific platforms, concerning how staff can better work together and how programs can best integrate. When a law firm partnership is formed, it is the union of, at least two, strong-willed individuals. Not surprisingly, then, lawyers in partnership often butt heads; but, when the disagreement extends to technology, it must be broken, for the good of the firm.
Law firms that run universal technology are more efficient, because, literally, everyone is on the same page. A uniformity of platforms and of usage (Tip: Create a firm technology manual and a style guide) means that any employee of a law firm can jump into any case file, and instantly feel at home. Since the vast majority of businesses use multiple technology tools, those tools should be used in concert, to the extent that that is possible. What should this look like?—
- Integrate the programs accessible in your firm.
- Utilize cloud products for device-agnostic access.
- Understand how files are shared, selecting the path of least resistance for secure access.
- Make collaboration easy, for colleagues and for clients.
The various technology tools in play at your law firm should operate, in concert, like a finely-tuned machine. Get yourselves out of silos, and consider that effective collaboration equals the streamlined ability to share common information.
The foregoing begs the question, of course: Is your tech what it should be?
First step: take Thomson Reuters’ Small Law Firm Technology Survey and Analysis, to find out. Upon completion of this in-depth, five-minute survey, you’ll receive an overall score, rating your use of technology within your law firm, across three categories: basic technology tools in application, technology tools used for law firm management and technology tools used for substantive law practice. Based on the results of your survey responses, you’ll get access to directed Thomson Reuters content to help you to make improvements in your law firm technology platform.
Don’t put it off until 2017 — take the survey today!