YourABA December 2012 Masthead

Technology tips to give small firms
an edge over the big guys

In the past, only large firms with the resources to establish a physical presence could practice across the country. Today, technology has given solo lawyers the ability to practice anywhere they take their laptop and have access to a high-speed Internet connection. Essentially, technology has leveled the playing field, says Peter LaSorsa, who operates a solo practice in Chicago focused on employment discrimination.

LaSorsa, in a recent issue of GPSolo magazine, gives four tips on how solo lawyers and small practices can use technology to get a leg up on big firms.

  1. Cut out the middleman. For most types of practices, “I find that a secretary can do more harm than good,” LaSorsa writes. He says a solo lawyer has an advantage by doing secretarial tasks like answering the phone, filing, making copies and mailing things. “Nothing escapes you, and therefore you will know [cases] inside and out. You are able to give incredible service to your client — service your big firm competitors can’t match.”

  2. Answer your own phone, and make it a cellphone. (Check first with your local bar to verify that there are no rules requiring a landline in your jurisdiction.) As you stand outside the courtroom waiting, a cellphone lets you field potential new cases rather than have them go to the competition. “Ditching the landline makes you more mobile, more accessible and sets you apart from the big firms,” LaSorsa says. “Sure, their lawyers have cellphones, but how many of their clients get those numbers?”

  3. Go paperless. As a solo firm, you can scan and store all of your documents electronically and access them easily from your computer (backed up, of course, in the cloud). By going totally paperless, LaSorsa says, “you are much more organized and mobile than competitors. And once you get into a routine, it takes little time.”

  4. Join bar association groups and stay active. Many times big firms don’t allow associates to join organizations, or if the associates do join, the firms don’t give them time off to participate, LaSorsa writes. “By joining various organizations, you are able to make great contacts and to further your legal training,” he says. “You will be able to write articles and teach at various CLEs. All of this sets you apart from associates at big firms. Your potential clients will see how involved you are in your field and will be impressed that you are published and teach other lawyers.”

Promote your activity on your firm’s website, linking to your publications or a CLE notice. You not only may attract new clients but also lawyers may refer work to you if a case is outside their practice area.

GPSolo is published by the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. To read the entire article, click here.

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