Practice Management

Are you a low-tech lawyer?

October 14, 2015

Do you know how to update the table of contents in a brief or renumber the paragraphs in a 30-page agreement after a simple revision? Do you know how to analyze data in a spreadsheet? Do you know how to prepare documents for e-filing? Unfortunately, for many lawyers, the answer to these questions is, “No.” Or perhaps the answer is, “No, I don’t need to. That’s what I have associates and staff for.”

In a time when clients are expecting lawyers and law firms to be more effective and efficient, these answers just don’t cut it. Not only do clients expect lawyers to be technically proficient, they don’t want to pay for work that could be done more efficiently. If you and your team aren’t technically literate, you’re wasting your time and wasting your clients’ money. And you may soon find your clients looking elsewhere.

I’m not trying to be the face of doom and gloom here. But I am saying that you can’t wait any longer if you’re not utilizing technology to its fullest in your firm. I’ve heard too many lawyers tell me they are dinosaurs when it comes to technology. Some even wear that dinosaur status like a badge of honor. And when it comes to being low-tech, age isn’t always a predictor. Just because someone is under 30 doesn’t mean they know how to use technology effectively. There’s a big difference between updating your Facebook status and removing metadata in a PDF before e-filing.

That’s where the Legal Tech Audit comes in. Casey Flaherty, the creator of the Legal Tech Audit, is on a mission to improve technological literacy within the legal profession. The Legal Tech Audit is designed to test the proficiency of all timekeepers on basic law firm technology: MS Word, Excel, and Adobe. In an interview with the Legal Talk Network at the 2015 ABA TechShow, Flaherty said that the ability to effectively use technology is a learned skill – not an innate talent. And just because someone is “younger” doesn’t mean they can use law firm technology effectively. These skills aren’t taught in college or law school.

So what does this mean for your law firm? In the short term, the Legal Tech Audit will likely be used by in-house legal departments as part of the vetting process for outside law firms. (Read more about how in-house legal departments are using the Legal Tech Audit in this article from The Washington Post.) But down the road, I can envision different versions of the assessment that can be used by small businesses or consumers when choosing a lawyer. I can also envision firms touting their good (or great) Legal Tech Audit scores as means of setting themselves apart from the crowd.

The age of the dinosaur is over.

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