We’ve already complained about Luddite lawyers.
Technology is not only a pragmatic requirement of the practice of law; it is now an ethical one, too.
If your IT Department isn’t already the most integral and important part of your firm, it’s like you’re falling behind. Furthermore, if you use any of the following items on a day-to-day basis, it’s like your operations are as outdated, as well.
Eliminate some of these machines and office mores to get back on track.
“A” for Associates.
Associates are on the decline, and law firm employees on the rise.
Associate compensation models are changing as the legal marketplace becomes overpopulated with a generation of lawyers with very different workplace attitudes and expectations.
Firms are recognizing the growing obsolescence of the traditional lockstep model and are taking steps to rework it or replace it. Firms now have an opportunity to be much more creative in how their attorneys are paid and to use compensation as a way to drive long-term value. To create long-term value and retain good attorneys, a firm first needs to design a strong, coherent, and attractive strategy.
Rather than firing secretaries or de-equitizing partners, Greenberg Traurig law firm has created a new strategy for hiring associates in the form of a “residency program.” Firm managers view this program as a way to attract talented associates without having to endure the costly and risky hiring process. Also, it allows junior lawyers to sign on who may not have made the cut in the first place, reports Law21.
In addition, junior lawyers work case matters without billing their work at the high rates clients have come to expect. Sitting on conference calls and gaining on-the-job training, these “resident” attorneys gain the job experience needed to succeed in the future and sustain life in an over-saturated market today.
Greenberg is simultaneously creating a new non-shareholder-track position called the practice group attorney, similar to the positions at law firms Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
The age of the Associate is over.
“B” for Binders
Why are you till making copies, printing out transcripts, and creating binders? Sure, every once in awhile, there’s a need for a hard-copy backup binder. But, it’s time to go digital.
Papers can be scanned, digitally stored, text-recognized, and then made searchable to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your law firm.
Binders are out, and electronic case material software—MyCase, Amicus Attorney, AdvantageLaw, LegalFiles, and OneNote—is in.
“C” for Conference calls
How many people really benefit from conference calls? Already, it’s impossible for more than one person to speak, and—often—people accidentally speak over one another.
Is a conference call more efficient than a memo? Do five people really need to bill the client for the same call?
Conference calls can easily be replaced with a quick person-to-person conversation, memorandums circulated over email, lists distributing work product, or—for the advanced law firm—discussions over a wiki (Learn how to create one here).
Ditch the conference call and develop your social capital at in-person conferences instead.
“D” for Dictaphones
Della may have used a Dictaphone for Perry Mason, but outside the world of black and white television is the real world of iPhones and Macbooks.
Your smartphone, tablet, and computer is capable of recording and even transcribing audio. So why are you still using cassette tape recorders? The Dictaphone should die in a fiery death, the app Dragon Dictation, however, is worth its weight in Silicon.
“E” for E-mail
Experts agree, e-mail is outdated. A meeting-less morning, a conference-call free afternoon, or e-mail-less day goes a long way in productivity for the firm and project deliverables for your clients.
Reading and answering e-mail takes up approximately 28 percent of the average workweek for employees, reports a 2012 study by McKinsey & Company. Communicating and collaborating internally takes up 14 percent of the workweek, and searching and gathering information just 19 percent.
Have you ever e-mailed a colleague who shares a wall with you? If so, it’s time to reconsider your e-mail etiquette and e-mail frequency.
Electronic communication certainly has its advantages. But, its overuse has made e-mail under-perform in comparison to old-fashioned office visits.
“F” for Faxes
Ok, keep your fax machine. But only if it’s paid for or used as a paperweight, museum item, or reminder to what legal assistants had to go through to file motions in the past. Otherwise, stick to e-filings or eFaxing.
Also, keep reading this blog, http://lawfirmsuccess.wordpress.com/, for more tips of the legal trade.