Try these tech tools to boost your
small firm's productivity
Technology is transforming a lawyer's work. Smartphones and cloud-based storage, to name just two innovations, are making practices more efficient, says Alan J. Klevan, a lawyer and the owner of Law Practice Strategies, a solo- and small-firm consultancy in Massachusetts.
In a recent GPSolo magazine article, “Five Cutting-Edge Front-Office Tools,” Klevan recommends a handful of popular technology offerings that can help lawyers enhance productivity, performance, marketing and revenue generation.
Siri. The iPhone 4S's “personal voice assistant” allows users to dictate commands to the device: Update the calendar. Set a reminder. Write an email. Send a text. Siri also helps perform Internet searches when there's no time to do them manually. Its main drawback? While Siri can search online, it cannot search data on the phone. Siri also relies on a network connection for everything, so there may be times (taxiing on the runway, for example) when you don't have access.
Evernote. Use this tool to take a wide range of information—Word files, photographs, Web pages—and organize it all into a central location, such as an online notebook. In fact, lawyers can create a notebook for each client and search for text (even handwritten text, as long as it's legible) or sort documents by date created, date updated or title. Evernote saves screen captures of websites in their dynamic format, preserving the text, photos or videos, even if the page is no longer online. It also allows the user to store audio notes. The tool is collaborative, too. Its “share” function lets users give access to documents to a particular individual or group. Evernote is compatible with most platforms, and the basic version is free; the premium version is $5 per month and provides expanded upload capacity and other features that can improve collaboration.
Dropbox. The cloud-based file-storage system provides access to documents across multiple platforms. The user simply designates one computer as the primary device and populates a “My Dropbox” folder with client files or any documents of his or her choosing. With other technologies—a tablet or smartphone, for instance—after the user installs Dropbox, the documents will synchronize with the primary device. Dropbox also enables collaboration by letting non-Dropbox users access files by registering for a username and password. When a user edits a file, the recipient will be notified that a file has been updated. When the recipient edits the file, the user will receive a similar notice. A free Dropbox account comes with 2 GB of space; 50 GB is $9.99 per month, and 100 GB is $19.99 per month. If you refer a friend, you can get additional free space.
WorkFlowy. This project-management application can be used to map how evidence should be introduced at a hearing or even to create to-do lists. Users are asked to enter “top level” lists, which could be lists of clients, court appearances or projects. Once the top-level lists are established, multiple sublevels can be created using bullet points to establish deep and detailed lists.
Tungle.me. This scheduling application allows users to indicate that they are available for a meeting over large blocks of time on their calendar—say, from 1 to 4 p.m.—and attendees can pick the best times inside those blocks. They are not limited to selecting only a few times that work. Tungle.me also has a free app for the iPhone and Android.
Batchbook. This customer-relationship management program offers advantages for lawyers looking to stay in touch with clients. Batchbook allows lawyers to maintain information on existing, new and prospective clients all in one place. Once you import client information into Batchbook, the program allows you to use tags to further sort your contacts; create “supertags” or “subtags” to narrow lists even further; integrate with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for each contact; track your communication and to-do lists for each client; create lists and reports by tag; send email newsletters via MailChimp; and schedule meetings using Tungle.me. Batchbook has several pricing structures available, and there is a free app for iPhone and Android.
GPSolo magazine is a publication of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.
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