1. Not understanding technology.
It all starts here. Refusing to join the 21st Century should not be a badge of honor for any attorney. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a lawyer say, “Well, I’m just not really into technology,” or “I’m a dinosaur when it comes to technology.” Really? Have you thought about the effect this type of thinking is having on your productivity and effectiveness? Have you thought about the impact it’s having on your bottom line? [Hint: It is not a good effect.] Have you thought about the effect it’s having on the services you provide to your clients?
Not being technically savvy in the 21st century is an invitation to a claim of malpractice. In fact the new ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to get with it, technologically speaking. Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1 explains:
“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” (emphasis added)
Read more about the 2013 changes to the Model Rules here.
You may be fighting the good fight for your clients. But if you’re not leveraging technology, you’re fighting with one hand – and maybe a leg or two – tied behind your back.
2. Not using case management software.
Nothing will make a bigger impact on your firm’s overall effectiveness and profitability than having and using case management software. Regardless of your type of practice or the size of your firm, there is case management software that will work for you. Do your homework, have a plan (See #7) and find the right case management software for your firm.
Here are just a few case management solutions you may want take a look at:
Amicus Attorney (Also available in a cloud-based version.)
Advologix (Utilizing the Force.com platform used by Salesforce.com)
3. Not getting the right training – or enough training.
OK, so you’ve made an investment in your firm and purchased the right software or subscribed to a cloud-based system. Now, make an investment in your people by providing the right training and enough training. OK, so maybe it’s a myth that we only use 10% of our brains. But without the right training, I can pretty much guarantee that you and your staff will only use about 10% of your software’s capability. Invest time and money in training. It will pay off.
4. Not backing up your data properly.
Properly is the operative word here. You may “think” you’re backing up your data because you have an external drive that runs every night. But have you ever tried to restore data from your backup system? Make sure you have a backup system that works and that you know how to restore your data if you have to. You should also consider using an offsite data backup system such as Mozy or Carbonite.
5. Not using two monitors.
This one is really a no-brainer. If you’re not using two monitors, you don’t know what you’re missing! – Not to mention that research has shown up to 42% increased productivity when using two monitors. Get two monitors. Period.
6. Using @somethingotherthanyourfirmname.com for your email.
If your professional email ends in @aol.com or anything similar, the mistake you’re making isn’t just a techy mistake, it’s a marketing mistake. A big one. It says that you don’t have your own brand. Or that you don’t care enough about your own brand to manage it well. Or that you’re not technically savvy enough (See #1) to understand your potential client’s complex legal matter.
There is no reason for any attorney to have an email address that is not linked to their own domain name. Domain names are inexpensive and easy to obtain. Check out NameCheap. You can use your domain name for your email, even if you don’t have a website. (But see #10)
7. Not having a plan for office technology and a partner to help execute the plan.
You’d never go into the courtroom without a plan. Don’t attempt to upgrade your office technology without a plan. And unless you’re a legal technology expert, don’t try to create the plan yourself. Get help! Contact your state bar association’s practice management office or get help from a company that specializes in legal technology. Law firms have unique technology needs that many IT professionals just don’t understand. Check out Affinity Consulting Group; they are technology consultants who work exclusively with law firms.
8. Leaving computers on overnight.
Every single attorney I know is very concerned about protecting their clients’ information. Many of them are so concerned that they shun the idea of moving to any type of cloud-based case management system. Yet, I’ll bet that some of those very same attorneys think nothing of leaving their office computers on all the time – with no password protection. Not a good idea, unless you’re OK with the cleaning staff using your computers to surf the web or download porn and viruses.
9. Insufficient password protection; not keeping track of passwords.
According to PC Magazine, the No. 1 computer password used by business owners is . . . “Password1” Are the passwords you use for your firm any better? Do you keep all the passwords for all the programs on all your computers in a safe place? Are you getting an upset stomach just thinking about this stuff? Then check out RoboForm Enterprise or LastPass – both very good password managers. If you don’t want to use a password manager, read these articles on how to create strong passwords from PC Magazine and The New York Times.
10. Not having a website and well-managed online presence.
This could very well be the biggest technology mistake of all. No matter how small your practice, your web presence should be big. And by “big,” I mean you should have a great website, a professional and friendly LinkedIn profile (with a current professional photograph!), and a completed Avvo profile, at the very least. Your best clients may come from personal referrals, but those referrals will check you out online before they contact you. Make sure that what they see makes them want to call you, not wonder whether or not they should.