Often I am asked what is an important skill a legal professional should possess. We think of billing, right?! Legal professionals should really know how to effectively bill their time. Time is precious and in a .1 environment it is even more precious, but how do we effectively bill? This is really the question, and to answer that a legal professional should leverage technology. Leveraging technology allows a legal professional to accomplish more with less – that is to work smarter and get more done with less time.
To deep dive into this there are a few basic things to understand. EVERY legal professional should possess an in depth understanding of Microsoft Word. Once we move beyond how to properly prepare documents, then we can focus on everything else. What is that ‘everything else’? How do we find out what ‘everything else’ is? Legal professionals need to embrace technology – it is our friend. Legal Professionals need to embrace new trends and find ways to incorporate new technology into their own environments in order to continue to advance.
Social media, specifically LinkedIn, can be an effective way to stay on top of emerging technology. Legal Technology companies post on LinkedIn hourly, (maybe more frequently, even), making it easy to keep abreast of the changes and updates. Many times these companies offer free training programs and/or CLE and non-CLE workshops. Browse through postings and read the comments. You’ll find that many of these companies offer white papers ready for download. You can download and read them at your convenience. LinkedIn also allows you to bookmark articles and posts so you can save articles that catch your attention.
Another great way to keep updated is to join a networking organization – local paralegal and legal professional organizations are invaluable. These organizations coordinate with some of the best in the business to host CLE events and offer training. It is also through this type of networking that you can get to know individuals who specialize in legal technology and can answer your questions.
I am an advocate of identifying problems and finding technology that can solve problems and bring an added value to the firm – no matter the size of the firm. It could be something simple. We are all living in a very digital world these days and sometimes we do not get the opportunity to have a telephone or video call with someone and we must rely on email. When drafting an email, tone is key, and sometimes what we believe is a professional or friendly tone may not be received by others the same way. I have downloaded a free tool – Grammarly. It helps with grammar and punctuation, but the most valuable part of this application is its ability to gauge tone. I have recommended this plug-in to multiple attorneys at my office and they love it. All have claimed it has improved their writing. The solution does not have to be complicated, fancy, or expensive to provide value.
All legal professionals are faced with challenges that prevent them from doing their best work, but efficient legal professionals are comfortable embracing technology to help them work smarter.
About the Author:
June Hunter is a Technical Enablement Sr. Specialist at Disco, and an instructor of Computers for Legal Professionals for the ABA Approved Paralegal Program at University of San Diego California.