We can imagine that everyone is a bit exhausted from working at home. But, if you are like us, you have come to realize that working from home is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Even when we do return to our offices safely, we need to address the elephant in the room: efficiency and productivity. Lawyers can work from home and be quite productive. And, our employees may want to work from home in the future, and we are seeing that it works. We may want to downsize our office space. We may want to implement a remote work policy for lawyers and staff. What type of technology do you need to think about to be a productive work-from-home lawyer?
The Basic Necessities
Every lawyer is going to need a computer that has all of the security features necessary to protect our clients’ data - two factor authentication, a VPN, a secure network with a password, etc. Toolwise, you may also want to consider a computer monitor (or dual monitors), an external backup drive (or cloud based backup), a high quality scanner, a cloud based fax number (like Hellofax), an e-signature platform (like DocuSign or Adobe Sign), and a good printer (particularly if your court has no e-filing). How will you answer calls? Will you use a remote answering service (like Ruby Receptionist), have a separate phone (Voice Over IP, second cell phone, etc.), or a second number that forwards to your home phone (like Google Voice)? Be sure that you can log into your email from home (or, if you need to set up email, try a platform like G Suite), and can access client files (possibly through a cloud-based storage system, like Dropbox Business or NetDocuments). If you do not have a cloud-based case management system (like Clio or MyCase), researching which one suits your needs best and consider making the investment. You can access it from anywhere, including on your phone at the courthouse (whenever we get back there). Many case management systems now allow all to-do lists, calendars, client file sharing, client payments and billing, and correspondence to be centralized and easily accessible to anyone within the firm (and you can typically customize what each employee has or does not have access to).
The Bells & Whistles
You may have set yourself up to have a premiere work-from-home experience, but if you are part of a law firm (and not just a solo), you also need to consider your “team.” Take a look at Microsoft Teams to share and collaborate on documents, have video calls, and include notes to fellow team members. A solid alternative is Slack. Setup your communication in channels, connect it to apps, such as your law firm’s social media accounts, your video conferencing software, your calendars, your emails, etc. for a more seamless approach to collaboration. Another good option is Trello, where you can create “boards” to organize material. Create your law firm’s marketing strategy on a board, your “To Do” list for drafting QDRO’s on another board, and website ideas on a third. You can share these boards with your team, so you can all edit. Or, try Asana, which can help you assign tasks to your team members and have a shared calendar and see the progress on different projects. Don’t forget to check in with your team by video or conference line - Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, BlueJeans, freeconferencecall.com, and a variety of others. Ensure your colleagues are on time to your virtual meetings by sharing calendars (like Google Calendar) or seamless appointment scheduling (like Calendly). No matter the technology, check your security settings. Lawyers need to reimagine their law firm as more than a professional practice - it is a business. While lawyer-specific technology can be helpful in organizing your cases, any solid tried-and-true technology used by businesses across the globe can be an option for your work-from-home experience.
Until next month’s Tech Talk Corner, you can find us at www.techtalklaw.com. Please reach out to us so we can have a dialogue about our changing profession.
Melissa is a family lawyer in Washington, D.C. and can be found at www.mkfamilylawfirm.com. Brian is a family lawyer in Southern Florida and can be found at www.ybkglaw.com.
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