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August 20, 2020 3 minutes to read ∙ 700 words

Ask Techie: Why Should I Bother Updating My Tech?

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about how to insert additional data labels inside Excel charts and whether upgrading your technology is really worth the bother.

Q: I’m used to my old technology. It’s working—why should I upgrade?

A: Upgrading is a pain, plus it takes time and money. So why upgrade?

  1. You and your clients will be safer.
  2. You actually have a professional duty to be reasonably up-to-date.
  3. Your work will be done faster, and that translates directly into more free time and profits.


You wouldn’t use a bike lock with a barrel-shaped key these days, would you? (In case you didn’t know, you can open an old Kryptonite U-lock with a Bic pen shell.)

For the same reason, you need to replace Microsoft Windows 7 on computers and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 on servers. They are out of support and vulnerable to exploits when connected to the Internet.

Upgrading your productivity software, operating systems, and security tech seriously improves your safety. If you’ve been attacked by a virus, ransomware, or a data thief, you’re aware of its importance. If not, you really don’t want to learn the hard way.

Professional Duty

Add to that your ethical duty as an attorney.

Rule 1.6 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Confidentiality of Information), requires that:

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.

And according to Rule 1.1, Comment 8 (Maintaining Competence):

[A] lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. . . .


Even moderately out-of-date technology can cost you time and money. The new stuff just works faster.

You may say, “But I bill by the hour. I don’t need to work faster.” There are three problems with that thinking:

  1. Part of your work is non-billable. Much of that is uninteresting. Some is even mind-deadening. The more of that work that your technology does for you, the more time and energy you have for billable work or time away from work.
  2. If you are able to make more clients happy faster, you’ll attract more referrals. Plus, if you work slowly, your competition will be able to charge less than you do and will reach more new clients faster than you do.
  3. Much of the time savings of new tech comes from reducing or eliminating boring, tedious, repetitive work that you are doing now. With old systems, time-wasting tasks are spread throughout your day. By upgrading or replacing, you reduce the mental cost and emotional drain of those demotivating tasks.

So, make some time in your schedule to bolster your defenses and sharpen your tools. One more thing: Technology costs are tax-deductible, so everything is on sale!

Techie: Wells H. Anderson, JD, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, SecureMyFirm, 952/922-1120, and Active Practice LLC, 952/922-1727.

Q: I am creating a chart in Excel 2016 to show attendance at a conference, but I want to add a label to the chart to show the number of attendees per year, not just the graph column. How do I do that?

A: For Excel 2013 or 2016, do the following:

1. Go to your chart and click on it to make sure it is active:

Excel chart to which you want to add data labels

Excel chart to which you want to add data labels

2. Click on the Design tab in the ribbon:

The Design tab in Excel

The Design tab in Excel

3. Click Add Chart Element drop-down list:

Add Chart Element drop-down list

Add Chart Element drop-down list

4. To add a label, click Data Labels to see a list of label options:

Data Labels

Data Labels

5.  Click on the location option where you want your label to be placed from the list. For example, if you want the number to appear above the chart column, select “Outside End”:

Choosing data label location

Choosing data label location

Your annual attendance totals now appear above each chart column.

For Earlier versions of Excel:

  1. Go to your chart and click on it to make sure it is active.
  2. Click on the Layout tab in the ribbon.
  3. Click Data Labels to see a list of label options.
  4. Click on the location option where you want your label to be placed from the list. For example, if you want the number to appear above the chart column, select “Outside End.”

Techie: Nerino J. Petro Jr., GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Erickson Group, [email protected].

What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin ([email protected]) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 10, Number 1, August 2020. © 2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.