YourABA: October 2012
YourABA October 2012 Masthead

Technology for more high-value work, efficiency boost

The “high-velocity” law office is one that spends more time on high-value activities and less time on low-value activities. Strategizing, analyzing issues, writing and communicating with clients are examples of high-value activities, says Fred Wolgel, in a recent edition of the ABA Section of Litigation’s Technology for the Litigator. On the other hand, he says, copying documents, recording billable time and waiting for a document to print are low-value activities.

Technology provides the tools to shift more time to high-value activities, says Wolgel in “How Document Management Can Accelerate Law Practice.” You already may be familiar with some ways to do this, such as sending faxes using your computer or converting voice mails into email messages. Wolgel, vice president and general counsel of Texas United Corp. in Houston, suggests other ways to boost productivity.

Document scanning. Networked copiers now have scanning capabilities. “Libraries can be created of key documents that have been scanned in, organized by client matter and kept in folders that can be shared with attorneys and clients,” Wolgel says.

Information storage. “Cloud storage” allows data to be maintained, managed, backed up remotely and made available to users over a network. The cloud makes it possible to access a key document from a smartphone, tablet or any personal computer—not just the one you use at work or at home. If your company has an intranet, “consider establishing a secure and well-organized document library that can be accessed by all stakeholders,” says Wolgel, noting that this can save time hunting down documents, such as email attachments. “Access to sensitive documents can be easily managed and controlled on the intranet. Typically you manage ‘permissions’ to decide who can access which libraries, or even specific documents within a library.”

Document retrieval and viewing. Wolgel says he finds himself using his tablet to look at important contract documents using the cloud-storage application while taking notes or editing different documents. “In meetings, I am able to simultaneously look up documents to answer questions while taking notes on the issues being discussed,” he says. “The payoff comes later when you go back to your office. The notes you have taken on the tablet, once saved to the cloud-storage service, appear on your office computer’s hard drive. You can then retrieve the notes and immediately go to work on the action items from the meeting.”

Web searches. Google has a few lesser-known tools that enhance productivity. Google Scholar, for example, will allow you to conduct a search for legal documents. Using the search engine, you can research all federal and state cases; almost all states and the federal government have their statutes online.      

Data security. There are real risks of data theft when storing information in the cloud, Wolgel says. One key way to reduce your risk is to use better passwords. Consumer Reports recently reported how to make your accounts hack-proof; for more, click here. “Once you have improved your passwords, consider using a portable password vault to store all of them,” Wolgel says.

Contact management. The days of the Rolodex are long gone. A business-card scanner will scan your cards and organize the data for later retrieval. “Once a card is scanned, you can enter notes if you like, and you can search for a contact by name, by company affiliation or by categories that you create,” Wolgel says.

For the full article from Technology for the Litigator, click here.

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