What They didn’t teach you at the Law School
Law School prepares you to think, write and research like a lawyer, but once you’re at the door of a law firm or a courtroom, there’s a whole new set of skills you need. The present series of articles aims to enrich a new lawyer with all these skills in order for him/her to excel.
There’s no technology which can make you a better lawyer or your arguments more logical. However, technological tools help you do things faster and perform tasks that would otherwise be impossible or impractical.
In today’s world, law firm clients are becoming more and more tech savvy as technology infiltrates our everyday lives in multiple ways. So, law firms tend to leverage new and existing technology to connect with clients in a highly personalized way and stay abreast of the changing regulatory landscape. In addition, current computer platforms and systems allow today’s lawyers to improve operational efficiency in a way that wasn’t previously available for small firms.
However, there are certain issues that have to be addressed to avoid technological mistakes.
When selecting different technology tools and systems, you must consider the needs of everyone, including fellow lawyers, staff and clients. Only then can you select tools that will help meet everyone’s goals. But then you may not be the best person to make decisions on new software purchases.
You should work with experts who are familiar with different types of software and know how to line up a firm’s needs and goals. Experts can bring a completely different, and more encompassing, point of view to the technology selection process as well as a keen eye for helpful and powerful integrations.
You also need to take time to understand the features of new technology and how your firm will use it. Only then can you thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of each new tool.
Avoid the idea of hiring one-off vendors to manage your technology infrastructure and services, as it is usually a short-sighted approach. In the long term, you might lose time and money and heighten your security risks. Just imagine the lost billable hours, headaches and frustration that happen when you have to call your support provider, explain your tech troubles, and manage their budget. Choosing the right IT provider that specializes in law firms, cyber security and legal software can make all the difference.
Also it is highly advisable to take time to fully acquaint everyone in the law firm with new solutions. Have trainers or providers explain how the solutions work, what they offer and how to leverage them in day-to-day tasks. If a lawyer or a staff member doesn’t understand how programs or apps work, they will either resist using it or won’t be able to take full advantage of all of its features.
Security is just one of the technology challenges that law firms face every day, and the threats are constantly evolving. While lawyers strive to be responsive, being too quick to open every email can lead to serious consequences. This is the most common way law firms find themselves infected with viruses. Prior to opening an email, always check the email address to find out if you recognize the sender and if it is his or her correct information. Also check the subject line and body to help identify any red flags such as typos, inconsistent information or requests for access to personal or financial data. Most importantly, be sure that you have robust virus protection installed that can scan attachments and warn you before you hit open.
Laptops, tablets and phones are prime targets for thieves. They contain almost anything a thief needs to harm your practice – client files, financial information, passwords and personal data. Thieves can auction off the information, use it themselves or can simply sell the device. You should avoid storing information on these devices. Instead, opt to store information in the cloud, which offers an elevated level of security including two-factor authentication, intrusion detection systems and encryption. That way, even if your laptop or mobile phone is stolen, they may have the hardware but not the data.
And last but not the least, beware of hackers. Someone from a tech support company may call you claiming to have noticed a virus on your computer. When he or she offers to do a screen connect to fix it, you accept their help. But allowing an unverified technologist to remote into your computer is a huge mistake.
No one is ever going to call you out of the blue to fix your computer, no matter how knowledgeable they sound. If you do not recognize the person or the company, you shouldn’t let them anywhere near your computer.
In today’s world, it’s impossible to avoid incorporating technology throughout the practice. So by avoiding a few common mistakes, you can actually make technology work to your advantage, and not let it hamper or harm your practice.