Technology can be a double-edged sword if you aren’t careful. You have to temper Shiny Object Syndrome with functionality. While it can be easy for law firms to get caught up in the “pretty” aspects of new technology – hardware and software, the actual purchases of technology should be done with an eye toward rejuvenating your firm and rethinking productivity and work flow.
I recommend that law firms do an annual technology audit to ascertain whether 1) technological needs are being met, 2) hardware is measuring up to the tasks at hand, and 3) your firm has technological bottlenecks reducing productivity. Below are steps to take and ideas to think about when looking at your law firm’s technology.
1. Talk to your staff.
If we are going to have an honest conversation about law firm technology use, the support staff generally spend more time using technology than the lawyers. Ask your staff what technology they use the most and what they use it for. Don’t forget to discuss basic utilities like the scanner, copier, fax machine, and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint). Ask your staff what they like and don’t like about all of your firm’s hardware and software products, and if they feel their performance is stymied by a lack of technology or poor technology. Write it all down.
Feel free to take a sampling of staff if your firm is quite large. If you have 10-15 staff members, it’s worth calling a meeting with everyone involved.
2. Create a workflow chart.
Know who is doing what work. This might sound rudimentary, but I promise that most firms are surprised at how job descriptions evolve over time. Ask your attorneys – at all levels – who they allocate work to. Write it down. Track what technology is used at each step. This chart should not be complicated or too in depth. For instance:
Include the names of the staff and attorneys involved in each step. This will allow you to clearly see how many pieces of technology are in play and whether your processes can be simplified for increased productivity. Use your law firm’s workflow chart to help allocate resources and redistribute workload if necessary.
Take 20 minutes a week to research legal technology. There are a variety of content aggregators that can help you reign in your reading list. Feedly, Bloglovin, and Newsblur are just three good, easy to use options. These aggregators let you know when your favorite blogs or news sources have new posts. Read everything – reviews, articles, and technological specifications. A few excellent resources include:
You only need twenty minutes a week to stay fairly abreast of options available to your firm for future use. I create a folder in my bookmarks to save websites and pages that interest me. Keep a list of software and hardware that inspire you. You’ll want those handy when you determine you need something new for your firm.
If law firm technology and efficiency overwhelm you, or you simply want to focus on your caseload instead of your infrastructure, you can contact Stacey E. Burke, P.C. We specialize in maximizing law firm productivity through streamlining technology. Give us a call, and we can help you.
Originally posted at Stacey E. Burke, P.C. on September 22, 2013.