April 20, 2011 Practice Points

Updating Your Small Firm's Technology

By Virginia Sierra

Technology is leveling the playing field for large and small firms. If your small firm can afford to keep its technology up-to-date, you are limiting the advantage a client has going to a large firm. Check with your state bar on technology updates; they may offer discounts on such technology to small firms. Your small firm can manage costs and fees better than a large firm and still produce the same work-product.

People are being replaced by computers. Large firms pay the people to do the work; therefore, their costs and fees to the client are higher. If you can rely on technology to do the work at your small firm, you are saving the client money and making your firm more desirable to the client. Abovethelaw.com states that you should take the following steps to be up-to-date with your technology: (1) invest in a sophisticated document management system; and (2) invest in sophisticated comparison software to compare document versions. Both of these systems replace the need for additional staff and the costs of staff, which are generally already limited at a small firm.

The website also suggests your firm "have a designated technology person . . . or if that is cost-prohibitive, use an outside vendor that offers technology support." If there is a designated person to deal with technology issues at your small firm, when there is a technology question or problem, you can get an immediate and direct answer.

Although humans have not been completely replaced by computers, grasping this idea can help advance your small firm to a sought-after position, even above the large reputation (and cost) of a big firm.

Virginia Sierra is with Cohen Kennedy Dowd & Quigley, PC in Phoenix, Arizona.

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