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Century in Law:  Embracing Tech without Losing Humanity

timoney knox Embracing Tech without Losing Humanity

Timoney Knox, LLP takes a long view of technology according to Trudy Callison, the law firm’s director of Finance. The Pennsylvania-based full service firm has continued to thrive for nearly 100 years since its founding in 1921.

The first radio station, KDKA in Pittsburg started broadcasting just a year earlier, television had yet to be invented, and Warren G. Harding was President.  The law firm has embraced a technology evolution from general ledgers transcribed in pencil or ink to automated invoicing and billing.

As law firms often find, IT implementations are as much about culture and change management as they are about legal technology. Like any firm with a century-long history, Timoney Knox employs a mix of staff and attorneys from the spry Millennials to seasoned Baby Boomers.

When you have an eclectic generational mix of employees, says Ms. Callison, there are bound to be conflicting opinions as to how to conduct business. Striking the right balance between the two is the key.

“How can you make everybody happy?” asks Ms. Callison rhetorically.

Technology: A Path to More Value

There was a time when clients avoided calling the law firm for fear every question would translate into additional legal fees. To be fair, at one time such tasks did require a substantial investment of time to research an answer and return a phone call.

Technology has changed much of this according to Ms. Callison, who uses the LexisNexis Juris program to manage the law firm’s billing and accounting, because software puts much of the information the law firm needs at the staff’s fingertips.

From electronic filing of documents with the court systems – to a comprehensive view of the firm’s entire client billing information, technology empowers the law firm to work more efficiently.  Subsequently this allows the firm’s attorneys to stay focused on solving their clients’ legal problems and delivering more value.

The Fine Line of Humanization and Personal Touch

What technology can’t do, according to Ms. Callison, is replace the personal and human contact that earns the trust and loyalty of the firm’s clients.  For all the advantages of technology, the firm is driven by a philosophy that interpersonal connections are the firm’s lifeblood.

As a matter of routine and policy, the firm regularly reminds and trains its staff members about the importance of face-to-face communications. According to Ms. Callison, it is this unique skillset that “pays the bills.”

In other words, no matter how fast and efficient technology enables attorneys to do their jobs, clients will always want and need to feel as though they are getting personalized attention. If you combine the best of both worlds, says Ms. Callison, “you can strike gold.”

“It’s all about finding the fine line between retaining the humanity in business and keeping up with technology,” says Ms. Callison.

With a legacy as long as that of Timoney Knox, clearly the firm has identified its secret to success:  embracing technology without losing humanity.

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.