Okay, I’ll admit it—when I started practicing, lawyers didn’t use computers (although most people had at least progressed from carbon paper to photocopiers). In fact, in my first years of practice, I was reduced to either dictating or handwriting pleadings and correspondence and having someone else type the documents. But no more!
What would we do without all the technology at our disposal today? What would I do without my cell phone, my computer and my BlackBerry? What would any lawyer do without many of the tools that make our practices easier?
It isn’t just about the hardware sitting on our desktops anymore. Consider, as only one example, electronic case access and filing of pleadings through online tools that give you instantaneous access to downloadable dockets, or that give you the ability to serve pleadings on hundreds of people with the push of a button. That’s technology!
Now, if a client calls and tells me that so and so has just filed bankruptcy, I can immediately access the file, see exactly what was filed when, learn if any hearings are set and download all the pleadings and review them—practically at the same time the court receives them. I can do this even with a case that’s filed hundreds of miles from my office.
Now, I can travel anywhere and still keep track of what’s going on in the office through a little gadget that I carry in my purse. With my BlackBerry, I can access my e-mail through the firm’s network, open and read attachments and reply to messages—all without having to drag along my computer. So much communication is done by e-mail these days that the BlackBerry would have to be one of the most indispensable tools I have. I probably use it more than I use my cell phone, as hard as that is to believe.
You don’t have to be a “techie” to use technology to help you be more efficient and responsive in your law practice. And that’s exactly what the technology I use does for me—it allows me to be efficient in my work and certainly more responsive to my clients. Between voice mail, cell phones, laptops and BlackBerries, you never need to be out of touch, even if you’re on a plane.
And there’s yet so much more we can do with technology. Keep abreast of it all by accessing LPM Section resources, including book titles such as Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers ; The Lawyer’s Guide to Extranets: Breaking Down Walls, Building Client Connections ; The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, Second Edition ; and the just-released The Lawyer’s Guide to Fact Finding on the Internet, Second Edition .
And be sure to come to ABA TECHSHOW® 2004, to be held March 25-27 in Chicago!
Susan G. Boswell ( firstname.lastname@example.org), Chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section, is Managing Partner of the Tucson office of Quarles & Brady Streich Lang LLP.