Are You a Low-Tech Lawyer? How to Make Technology Your Friend

//Are You a Low-Tech Lawyer? How to Make Technology Your Friend

Old school tools have their place in any practice. As the old saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But consider the following:

  1. Sometimes you don’t know something is broken until it’s too late.
  2. Should you really be aiming for “not broken”?

We have our own saying at Smokeball – “innovate for the customer, not a press release”. This means that when we create something new, try a new technique or use a new technology, it is never just for the sake of being new. It’s always for a reason; to improve our customers’ practices.

One fellow who is on a mission to bring about change is D. Casey Flaherty. As an in-house counsel at Kia Motor Corporation, he was concerned about the efficiency of the firm he hired – so he tested their tech skills. The idea of a client running such an audit on a law firm seems to have caused quite a stir. Now he has partnered with the Suffolk University Law School to create a standardized ‘technology aptitude’ test for all attorneys.

See Suffolk University Law School’s Tech Skills Infographic.

Low Tech Lawyer Infographic

So, would you pass a basic tech aptitude audit? Are you a Low-Tech Lawyer?

If your answer is no, here are some tips to start you on your way to becoming a tech-savvy attorney.

‘Better’ is as important as ‘faster’ or ‘cheaper’.

Carolyn Elefant wrote a great post about how technology enabled her to work better, as well as faster. Technology isn’t just about finding ways to pump out more work; it’s about enabling small law firms to stay competitive.

One step at a time

No-one becomes a technology genius overnight. Start small, master one thing (it could be a skill or a piece of software), and your confidence will grow. Try not to cut corners.

Listen and watch

One of the best things about the internet is that allows people to the share their knowledge and experiences. A simple google search will probably bring up articles, videos and group discussions about whatever it is you are trying to learn.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It doesn’t matter how simple a task might be, someone who knows how to do it was in your position at some point. Find that person and ask them for help. You’d surprised at how much people enjoy teaching new skills.

Defeat paper dependence

Paper is nice to have but it is also a productivity roadblock. Often the first step to embracing technology is to train yourself to reduce your usage of hard copy documents.

When the going gets tough

Go back to the reason you embarked on the learning journey in the first place. Maybe it was an inspiring speech, maybe it was a successful colleague, or maybe it was a frustrating experience with a client. Find that motivation and hold on to it!

By | August 12th, 2013|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.