High-Tech Law Firms

iPhone Provides Return on Investment: Blackberry is Toast

Ihpone My Verizon contract recently lapsed, allowing me to enter the world of iPhone apps on the AT&T Network.  One month into my transition, the verdict is in.  Blackberry will not likely survive.  The world belongs to iPhone. 

For our law firm, a technology spend is always measured by return on investment.  In the services business this ROI is typically a function of productivity.  Over the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring the amazing world of iPhone and imploring every lawyer and service provider I know to make the move as quickly as possible.  The return on investment is almost immediate, certainly no longer than a couple of weeks.  While I made the move because of my superficial understanding of iPhone apps, I really had no idea how amazing those apps would be.  Furthermore, the slick interface on the iPhone make navigation and information access easy and straight forward.  And just like in the commercials, the ability to access any of your apps while you talk on the phone is huge. 

For those of you still on the Blackberry platform, check your service contracts and find out when they expire.  Then, ignore that date, eat whatever penalty you have to pay by getting out of the contract now and switch anyway.  Your ROI may take a week or two longer, but you will see productivity gains so quickly, you will soon agree it was the best money you ever spent. 

Technology Makes Perseverance Much Easier

Perseverance has always been a key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t.  Achievement can be like a drip of water.  A drip can become a puddle, which can become a stream, then a river and even a canyon. 

It occurred to me the other day that technology makes perseverance much easier.  Instead of a large number of large things that need to be accomplished in order to make things happen, technology makes success much more accessible.  Technology now ties achievement to the accomplishments of a large number of little things made easier.

The # 1 Client Complaint of All Time

Phone We don’t need statistics to know it’s true.  We’ve heard it since we graduated from law school.  The number one complaint by clients is the failure to return phone calls and lack of information from their lawyer.  When clients don’t know what’s going on, they rightfully get pissed off.  What needs to be a relationship of trust becomes a relationship of mistrust.

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Asking for a Malpractice Suit: Failing to Educate the Client

Over the course of my career, I would say that the vast majority of instances where a client came to a lawyer for advice, the lawyer essentially told the client what to do based on that lawyer’s own experience, expertise and knowledge of the law.  Under the “lawyer knows best” approach, the client is not expected to understand the legal intricacies or practical reality of his or her legal situation.  Even on the holy grail of settlement, where the client has to be informed of the offer and is the only one who can decide whether or not to accept or reject, the emphasis is often on telling the client to accept or reject rather than educating the client and letting them decide for themselves.

Technology allows us to push a lot of information and access to our clients.  Our model is devoted to helping the client understand the key legal principles involved and practical realities of the legal process.

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Computer Monitors - Size Does Matter

In a recent blog post on the Business Technology web site, Ben Worthen notes in a study done by the University of Utah that the size of the computer monitor or using two or three monitors instead of one really does make a difference in your productivity.  In the study, it was noted that using a larger monitor or two monitors when transferring data helps to make the task go faster and more efficiently.  So when that employee comes to you asking for a larger monitor or even a second one, remember that it is for their own good and the good of the company.

Legal Technology Trends: 2009 Predictions

Dennis over at the Dennis Kennedy blog has published an article called “Nine Legal Technology Trends for 2009: The Year of Hunkering Down”.  In his article, Dennis observes the legal technology market and makes his predictions for legal technology trends in the coming year.  Here are his nine predictions:

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Dennis Kennedy's Recommendations Concerning Technology Choices for Solo Lawyers

There is a great new blog post over on the Dennis Kennedy blog about implementing technology. 

"The legal profession is not exempt from the current economic turmoil. I wrote the introduction to this column before the last big wave of layoffs, so it feels even more true now than when I originally wrote it: "Given the current economy, odds are there will be many more lawyers in solo practice at the end of 2009 than at the beginning. Change might come about by choice or by circumstance—the “suddenly solo” phenomenon—as news stories are illustrating all too well."

In the column, I focus on how a new solo, especially one who is transitioning from a large firm, needs to think about technology and set priorities. I wanted to focus on the questions to ask.

I highlight three key questions:

First, what is your practice area?

Second, what is your expected volume of clients, work and documents?

Third, what is your budget?

Over the years, I've become convinced that "volume," meaning number, amount and the like, really does drive technology choices. Think about it."

Comparing E-fax and Electronic Fax Services

Every once in a while I get a question from one of our readers about incorporating an internet fax service into their business model.  These systems generally go by the description “electronic fax”, “internet fax”, “e-fax” and “online fax” services.  The major player in the market is a company by the name of eFax, although there are many other providers in the space who are nipping at their heals.  As is common in the internet space, the up and comers often offer more for the money than the big dogs.  It just so happens that one of our clients provides a extremely valuable comparison service which will allow you to take a look at many of the top-end electronic fax providers in the space, compare price, number of faxes, 800 numbers, free trials and the rest.  Check them out at www.faxcompare.com.