Only use the technology that makes your life easier

June 10, 2015

Law & technologyThere is a lot of legal technology out there.  A lot.  So much so that just considering your options can be overwhelming.  Compounding this sentiment is the barrage from experts, tech companies, and other attorneys telling you that lawyers must adapt “Technology A” or “Technology B” – with only minimal consideration given to cost and whether you can actually use the technology in your practice.

I’m here to tell you that there’s no need to worry, because technology isn’t supposed to give you headaches.  It’s supposed to make your life easier.  And if a particular type of legal technology doesn’t make your professional life easier, than you shouldn’t use it.  Granted, there are security and ethical considerations to account for, but by and large, this maxim stands.  Because of the unique position that attorneys in small law firms and solo practices find themselves in regards to being their own IT department, they generally know what’s best for their own respective practices, and are more in touch with their technology needs than anyone else.

For as much as I use technology in my practice, I also don’t upgrade just for the sake of upgrading.  I still use Microsoft Office 2007, one of my PCs is still running Windows XP, and my phone looks like this:

samsung phone

My point in telling you this isn’t to make you believe that you shouldn’t upgrade your technology until it breaks down or that you should be hesitant to add any new technologies to your practice because you are content with what you have.  Instead, what I’m saying is that if something is working for you, you shouldn’t change it just because of external pressures.  The technology you use should be tailored to fit the needs of your practice.

For example, in the case of my not-so-smart phone, I haven’t felt any particular need to upgrade because I can check email, access documents, and access the Internet from anywhere I go thanks to my wireless-enabled iPad.  I use my phone to make calls and send and receive text messages, so I haven’t seen the need for a new phone as of yet.

Likewise with my use of Office 2007, I haven’t seen any particular need to upgrade, despite the fact that two newer versions of Office have been released.  Why?  Because Office 2007 more than fills my needs, and the newer versions don’t offer anything in particular that justifies the time and expense of upgrading to me.

Admittedly, because Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows XP, using the operating system on an Internet-connected device presents greater security risks every day, so I’m probably due for an upgrade on that front.  But this upgrade will be for security – and, by extension, ethical reasons – not because my daily practice needs demand it.

And to be sure, there will be times where you must upgrade your system for ethical reasons.  But aside from these circumstances, attorneys in small firms and solo practitioners should know when new technologies must be implemented and when doing so is unnecessary.  After all, technology – including the use and implementation of it – shouldn’t end up creating more work for you in the long run.