Does the legal profession have anything in common with the medical profession? More than you might think, according to Robert T. Farrell, an attorney who owns his own general practice law firm in upstate New York.
Mr. Farrell, who earlier in his career, worked as an emergency services paramedic, says access to vital information and data is important for first responders and attorneys alike, because it helps paint an accurate picture about a person’s history. This insight is important because it can help drive better decisions and ultimately outcomes.
In other words, insight helps to connect the dots, which in some cases, can be life altering.
A Solo Practice Evolution
Mr. Farrell, notes he’s been at the legal profession for a long time yet he sees it changing every day. He remembers a time when having instant access to a client’s legal matters was a novel idea. In those days he would photocopy documents and physically paste them onto paper. At the time – that was his system for keeping track of client files.
Today, it is suffice to say Mr. Farrell’s law office has undertaken a complete metamorphosis. Typically he creates, updates, tracks and manages client files electronically in the LexisNexis® Time Matters® practice management software tool. A wall in his office, which was once lined with legal publications, is now bare.
“Why do I need legal books when I can research cases and client information directly from my computer?” he asks without expecting an answer.
Beyond having instant access to his clients’ matters and history, adds Mr. Farrell, is the ability to keep track of any individual who comes in contact with his law firm. This information is useful for making professional connections and for growing new business. He says since most of the work he does in his general practice firm is transactional, having an historical database of all correspondence, emails, research and company information related to his clients, is vital to the success of his law firm.
Defining a Progressive Law Firm
Mr. Farrell believes his firm could even be defined as a progressive law firm in contrast to some of his colleagues. He first began using computer technology to manage his law practice more than two decades ago – a time when his peers would shudder at the thought of relying on computer to do the job traditionally in the domain of a legal secretary.
“I remember one colleague who I worked with at the time, asked me why I was doing the work of a legal secretary when it was up to them to do it for me,” said Mr. Farrell. “Although surprising, that was a common attitude back then.”
Mr. Farrell believes most attorneys are generally open to using technology – but it has to be done at their own pace. In other words, they need to figure out what works for them.
For some he adds, this comes quickly, for others, it takes time. Attorneys he notes are infamous for being late adopters of technology but appear to be at a tipping point.
In 2014, Mr. Farrell finds himself representing many local emergency medical service (EMS) responders in his community along with clients in real estate, non-profit and business industries. Perhaps his experience as an emergency services paramedic helped lay the groundwork for his career as an attorney. He knew then, as he knows now, that any great attorney or paramedic is always willing to find new and better ways to serve others, even if it means stepping out on a limb.
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