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Tech Savvy Lawyer

 

Technology is an integral part of most lawyers’ life, but a lack of know-how can impact a firm’s bottom line. “Lawyers need to figure out and perfect paper work flow,” says Paul J. Unger, an attorney in Columbus, Ohio who is also the founding partner of Affinity Consulting Group. Unger’s firm counsels attorneys on how to conduct effective electronic discovery, improve their technological efficiency and more.

 

Lawyers should be cognizant of deadlines, according to Ernest Svenson, an attorney in New Orleans. “You are taught in law school that it’s bad [to miss a deadline] but never told how to prevent,” he says. Svenson cites the sheer volume of emails the typical lawyer receives on a daily basis as one reason legal eagles are often behind in their work.

Svenson, who has been expanding his professional palate to educating attorneys on time and tech efficiency, says with the advent of e-filing, electronic communication has taken on even greater emphasis. “If an attorney doesn’t know how to deal with a torrent of emails, they will face information overload,” says Svenson.

Valuable Information

Another malady lawyers suffer from is their lack of appreciation for the value of the information stored on their computers, kept in client files and even on cell phones, says Doug Davidson, President and CEO of Jacadis, a Columbus-based information risk management company.

“They misunderstand the value of the information vs. the value of equipment, so they don’t take steps to protect the information. They think no one wants the information but that’s not true,” Davidson says.

Moreover, attorneys lacking technological savvy are unnecessarily costing themselves and their clients additional money. In the simplest of examples, an attorney who does not know how to type won’t likely zip an email response to a client or opposing counsel. The communication must be dictated or hand-written, and then typed by someone else. Not only that, paper, envelopes, ink and stamps add to the cost of that communication.

Those repetitive costs are partly why Svenson is such a strong advocate for the paperless law office. In fact, he created a blog to tackle the topic.

Suggestions to Strengthen Your Tech IQ

While it’s never too late to strengthen your level of tech savviness, keep your expectations in line with reality, urges Davidson. Being technologically “aware” is important, too. He advises tech newbies to “get a basic understanding of how networks work and how apps are built. Age is not the barrier people make it out to be,” he says.

One important lesson for anyone interested in improving their technological awareness is that technology moves faster than people are learning its nuances, he says. That’s why Davidson suggests lawyers develop a “basic familiarity” with how the Internet, smartphones and tablets can support a law practice.

Svenson’s best advice might sound simplistic, but heeding it is an excellent way to up your technology awareness. “Start with password protection. The mobility of technology is important but it’s also important to keep data protected and confidential,” he says.

Furthermore, 40% of smartphone users do not use passwords to protect their devices, according to the results of a poll recently released by Cisco. iPhone users report using a password more often than their Android counterparts, 66% to 54%.

Svenson also cautions lawyers not to use their email’s inbox as a storage depository for electronic communications. He says he has heard of judges familiar with the poor tech practices of some attorneys ordering them to attend remedial technological classes.

Attorneys must effectively deal with “information overload,” says Svenson.

Unger has a suggestion for lawyers seeking valuable tips for improving their technological know-how, and it’s free and easy to use. Check out a website aimed at legal eagles interested in expanding their tech awareness, found at www.lawtechnologytoday.org. He calls it a great resource that offers webinars and other tech-related sources certain to solidify a lawyer’s abilities to capitalize on the vast array of technological services available to them on the World Wide Web.

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and freelance writer.

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Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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