Lawyers can’t just get by with a basic understanding of technology, says Jeffrey Taylor, an attorney in Oklahoma who has been managing a small law practice for about six years.
Full-time Mr. Taylor runs Absolute Legal Services, LLC and part-time he pens a law blog called The Droid Lawyer, which is a fantastic resource for lawyers interested in tapping the Android system for law. He recently joined host Christopher T. Anderson on the Un-Billable Hour, a law practice advisory podcast produced by the Legal Talk Network titled: Model Rules for the Modern Lawyer: Leveraging Technology to follow ABA Guidelines.
We’ve summarized (paraphrased) a few of the questions and answers form the most recent show. The full program runs just about 28 minutes and is freely available on several popular podcast networks.
What should lawyers know about legal technology and their practices?
Mr. Taylor believes attorneys today need to “get more in depth” understanding of legal technology available today or other law firms just might take the place of where you were in the marketplace.” The interpretation offered is that compliance with the ABA Model Rule 1:1 (competence) requires not just knowledge of the tools an attorney currently uses, but also and understanding of what is possible in order to better serve clients. The cost of technology continues to drop, Mr. Taylor noted, which makes technology affordable to law firms of all sizes including small law firms and solos.
What can lawyers do to stay current?
Mr. Taylor is an advocate of using technology to understand technology. For example, he’s a proponent of following “technology gurus” on Twitter and reading associated blog posts. He noted that attorneys can just use Twitter as resource to monitor and follow discussions and resources without having to participate.
He also pointed out that tradeshows, such as the ABA TECHSHOW, are a great place to obtain a broad overview of technology both from the sessions provide and from the vendors on exhibit. Many state bar also have practice management organizations which are excellent resources and – the ABA produces a comprehensive Legal Technology Resource Center.
Separately, we’d recommend the PinHawk Law Technology Daily Digest and the Business of Law Daily which often provides an at-a-glance view of the hottest technology stories. The latter is in part, based on a legal blogger list on Twitter we curate. The list includes Mr. Taylor and 147 other legal bloggers, including several law practice management advisor. A sample from the list:
What are the top tech things attorneys should use every day?
Every law firm should “have some sort of practice management software,” Mr. Taylor said noting that many firms try to manage their firms by creating email folders or in binders. The largest benefit he sees is that practice management tools tie “everything together and provides contextual relationships.” By this he means the contextual relationship of the data – tying deadlines, calendaring, docketing and case files not just to a client – but also to trust accounting, billing and accounts payable.
Mr. Taylor notes that the ability to access data from anywhere is one clear advantage to using cloud-based practice management tools. Mobility was also the single largest benefit attorneys cited in a survey of law firms and the cloud published earlier this year.
With premise software, the law firm takes on the responsibly of providing the technology infrastructure including backing up the data.
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