Blawg Review # 52
Rolling Out Our Virtual Worker Program

Has Technology Got You By The Throat?

Sure technology can be a great thing. All those whirring fans, flashing lights and super techno-cool splash screens; who doesn’t like to impress their fellow lawyers and clients with all the back flips, aerial trapeze and glitz that their technology can offer? Does being a high-tech lawyer really mean having the most technology?

I consider myself a high-tech lawyer. But even I realize that technology is neither good nor evil. It is all on how you apply technology to your internal process and practice that counts. We have recently read about the constant distraction that technology can inflict on our professional and personal lives. There is no question that technology has as much potential to grab you by the throat and strangle you dead as it does to improve your life.

So how does one harness the awesome energy of technology without it back firing? This is an issue that I struggle with everyday in my practice. But at least I’m aware it is an issue. Too many attorneys blindly become a slave to their technology without ever stopping to ask whether or not it is truly improving their client service model or, even more importantly, improving their own life outside of work.

The point of this post isn’t to answer all the questions which it raises. The point of this post is to start you thinking about how technology is impacting your situation and to make sure that it does not grab you by the neck.

If I may, I might offer these suggestions:

  • Remember that technology allows you to work from anywhere. Often times, you are less productive sitting in your office at work than you might be at the coffee shop down the block or at home. Use technology to your advantage. Find a location where you feel comfortable, happy and content and get some real work done. If you’re not getting much done, either go home or find a new location.
  • Technology allows you to get 8 hours of work done in 4 hours, take 4 hours off.
  • Tell your clients that just because technology makes you more available to them that you won’t necessarily be able to respond to every email or phone call the same hour or even the same day. Teach them patience in spite of technology. If you’re getting the job done and not leaving their query unresolved for too long, they’ll understand. In short, you have to set boundaries for your children. You also have to set boundaries for your clients, especially in the technology age.
  • Leave a voice mail that you are not available and won’t be available for a period of time, whether that’s a day or a week. Be sure to leave a contact number for a staff member or another attorney who can help with any issue that may arise. Just because you can be available 24 by 7 doesn’t mean you should be.
  • Use technology to stay home in the morning and hang out with your kids while still getting a few critical things done and monitoring situation from afar. If technology is going to make your life better, you’ve better figure out how you define "better" and get there quick.
  • Block off periods of time where, even if your technology is plugged in, you are unplugged from your technology. You’ll need this time to focus on drafting, critical thought and strategy issues which are really the most pressing ones for your client.
  • Don’t look at your email every few minutes just to see if a new message has arrived.
  • Don’t answer every cell phone call just because your phone rings.

We are all familiar with the movies where computers eventually enslave mankind. You should reflect on this daily. It could happen to you.

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