April 16, 2013 Practice Points

Blog Discusses Five Technologies That Have Changed the Solo Practice

By Alison Clemency

Thomson Reuters blogger Jeremy Byellin recently weighed in on how solo and small firms can make the most of technology in their practices. Rather than giving an abstract pitch on the benefits of technology, Byellin identified the following five specific technologies that have changed his solo practice.

Cell Phone
For those solo and small firms that do not have full-time office staff to handle calls and take messages, the cell phone is a simple and fast way to maintain client communications while also allowing for flexibility and mobility in the office environment.

Scanner
In the wake of e-filing and the advantage of generating electronic backups of client documents and filings, the value of a scanner to a legal practice is undeniable. Byellin recommends opting for a scanner that has an automatic document feeder, and promises that the efficiency benefits will certainly outweigh any increase in price.

Tablet
Tablets can essentially allow lawyers to take their office with them anywhere they go.  Document readers available for iPad and Android operating systems allow lawyers to review client files on the go. Additionally, tablets are also a great tool for conducting legal research on the numerous electronic databases available today. Finally, while tablets do not offer the full array of formatting available on computer word processing applications, lawyers can still use their tablets along with a Bluetooth keyboard for legal writing.

Internet Fax Service
While many individuals and organizations send documents via email, transmission of documents via facsimile is still the predominant method in many regions. An internet fax service can give a firm the ability of sending and receiving documents via facsimile without the necessity of buying and maintaining a fax machine and the associated telephone line. Instead, for a small annual fee, the Internet fax service allows for the sending and receiving of faxes virtually through a normal email account. And, because the faxes are sent and received through a normal email account, lawyers can even send and receive faxes through their tablets.

Accepting Credit Cards
New mobile apps and credit card reader attachments for smartphones have made it easier than ever to accept credit cards. Accepting credit cards, according to Byellin, will increase the number of paying clients that a solo or small firm receives, as the option to use a credit card may allow certain clients to tender the up-front retainer that they otherwise could not.

While there are certainly countless other technologies available to help augment the practice of law, Byellin believes implementing the five technologies discussed above can make an immediate and notable impact on solo and small firm practices.

Keywords: litigation, solo practitioners, small firms, technology, blog

Alison Clemency is with Cohen Kennedy Dowd & Quigley in Phoenix, Arizona.


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