Lawyers are inherently busy. It’s not just the nature of the job we do every day, it is also the intrinsic demands of the profession. In order to stay competitive, business development, writing, pro bono work, taking on leadership roles and schmoozing are often a part of a lawyer’s day-to-day workload.
While automated systems are changing every industry and profession and increasing efficiencies, law and the delivery of legal services will always necessitate a “human” component – it is highly unlikely that there will never not be a need for lawyers. However, as systems become more sophisticated, there are innumerable ways that lawyers can take advantage of technology to save time and troubleshoot some common problems. Here are 10 of our favorite “Tech Tips” for attorneys:
- Move to the Cloud. More than likely, you are already using the cloud to store client information, whether you are aware of it or not, through your practice management software, or through commonly used cloud-based file solutions like Dropbox and Google Docs. The cloud is a great spot for storing client data, commonly used forms, and other law firm information. Attorneys “may ethically use cloud computing, so long as they exercise reasonable care to keep client information and files confidential.” Some guidance for ensuring that you are doing your due diligence can be found in this Attorney At Work article on the topic.
- Automate Your Client Updates. Effectively communicating with clients is not only a standard that the profession demands, but also an easy way to avoid malpractice and ethics violations. Now, there are myriad ways to automate important communication – from prescheduling email updates on new case law to updating your clients specifically on the status of their matter via Case Status, a client communication portal.
- Security is Sacred. If your password is your pet’s name, you’ve got company. The name of a pet is one of the top ten passwords used worldwide. Another of the most common passwords worldwide is “password123.” Here are some insights on how to create stronger passwords. There are also a plethora of password managers available that can help make it easier to transition between accounts and platforms
- Tap Into New Talent. If you are overwhelmed by your current workload, help is a few clicks away. There are many general websites for freelancers who can do anything from help with research to running your social media pages, such as com, freelancer.com and guru.com. If you are specifically looking for another attorney for full time or contract work, you may want to check out upcounsel.com, Now Counsel Network, or Hire an Esquire.
- Allow for E-signatures. Save time and money (including the cost of mailing and messenger services) by investing in a service that allows for digital signatures. While there are many services out there, Docusign and Eversign are two that we see used frequently by law firms.
- Use AI to Get Industry Intel. With so much substantive content and news being produced on the internet every day, its not only difficult to keep up with what is happening in the industries you serve (or those of your clients) but it is a daunting task just to weed through everything out there to find out what is relevant. That’s where an aggregator can come into play. Artificial intelligence algorithms can monitor and alert you to information that might be beneficial to you in your practice. One platform popular among lawyer is
- Rely on an Online Editing Service. Woodpecker Legal and Intelligent Editing are two Microsoft Word plug-in apps that allow you to work on your legal documents in Word, but help to easily standardize terms and formatting across long legal documents.
- Provide Access to Your Calendar. If you are too busy to set your own appointments, there are online solutions that can help – even allowing clients and colleagues to view your calendar and set appointments directly. Many of the more popular calendaring and meeting scheduling platforms are listed here.
- Invest in a VPN. We’re fortunate to practice in an age where we don’t need to be tied to our desks to successfully practice law. However, if your office away from your office is a local coffee shop, you are likely using a lot of free wi-fi hotspots, potentially exposing client and personal data to hackers. To minimize risk, consider investing in your own Virtual Private Network (VPN). According to com, the top 3 VPNs for lawyers in 2019 are Encrypt.me, NordVPN, and Private Internet Access.
- Take Advantage of Online Training. Whether you are struggling to use new software, or just need a refresher on the basics of the Office 365 package, there are a number of quality online resources available to you. If your local bar association has a law practice management section, that might be a good place to start. But the American Bar Association, your local law library, and even YouTube is full of helpful training videos, podcasts, webinars and more that you can complete at your convenience.