A colleague of mine posted a great blog about how things have changed in the business world today. She noted how Google throws unique interview questions at its prospects to find the right “Google-type” of thinkers. She segued to lawyers and how they’re doing it in the 21st century. Her stance on texting clients (she’s opposed) prompted me to write about how technology, including texts, can really make a lawyer’s life easier while simultaneously decreasing the number of dents we put in our clients’ wallets. It’s a concern that resides in the hearts of most of the smaller firms – and in every client.
Today’s lawyer should be well beyond email-to-smartphone prowess. Past the halfway mark in 2012, you can (or should) expect to see today’s tech-savvy lawyers using less paper; carrying tablets to court for scheduling, notes and research during trial; and even displaying exhibits in tech-capable courts. We cut costs with cheaper research apps. We edit the ninth draft of our settlements or purchase agreements right on our screens using iAnnotate PDF and even sign documents with the SignMyPDF app. We e-file documents with the court for $10 using One Legal instead of paying an attorney service $30 (or more if it’s a “rush” – at least by their standards). And all of this assists us in completing tasks sooner and more efficiently, which is a client-pleaser.
Some of us even text clients to more efficiently arrange a call or meeting time, to provide a quick update on a successful freezing of a bank account or to acknowledge a voice mail. This uses fewer billable hours – if we bill that time at all.
In the meantime, attorneys who have embraced 21st-century technology give themselves opportunities to spend more time at home or out with their loved ones instead of chained to their desks. Using the above technologies, I’m able to arrive at my son’s 3 p.m. lacrosse game, iPad in hand, receive a client’s email, make changes and send them back – or forward them to my secretary. I can conduct research that I started at the office. Or my new favorite: I can use the Hours Tracker app to enter my time and email it to my bookkeeper, who cuts and pastes it into the billing records. It even allows me to enter the time on my phone and share it with my iPad. I love that I can pound it out at the end of the day at home, after I’ve had my family time.
Taking advantage of today’s tech means happier clients and lawyers. Still, some prefer to go old school. One of my first law-job colleagues still handwrites all of his pleadings. How do you think that works out for him and the client?
"OC Legal Buzz" blogger Bill King, is a 14-year attorney in Orange County. His firm specializes in business litigation, corporation transactional matters, construction law, employment law and estate planning. Bill can be found taking his kids to singing lessons and lacrosse practice. He’s an avid snowboarder and trains for triathlons.