7 ways smaller law firms can use technology to work smarter, not harder.

Dan CulhaneBlog

  1. Pick the right platform.The biggest system (or the one with the most features, or the priciest) is not necessarily the best. Find the simplest tool that does what you need right now. Don’t pick a platform for your aspirational firm.
  2. Balance Proportionality with Duty of Technology Competence (ABA Model Rules). The Rules point in the same direction—using appropriate technology. Many online programs and tools are built to accommodate the most complex cases, which makes them too complicated and too costly for the vast majority of cases and firms.
  3. Don’t compete with the big dogs. Much of the technology is created for the big firms with lots of money to spend and an IT department to provide support. Find the technology that is designed and priced for smaller firms.
  4. Say no to work that requires you to gear up. Solve the problems that are right for your firm and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition who can afford all the bells and whistles and an IT department.
  5. Don’t be married to one thing, especially if it stops working for you. You need systems that work for you, not the other way around. “Because we’ve always done it this way” is not a good reason to stick to an outdated solution. Nor is throwing good money after bad to try and make something that is too complicated work for you.
  6. Reducing meaningless work is the best way to get more important work done. Invest in technologies that reduce tedious, routine and mundane tasks. Not only will your firm avoid paying professionals (lawyers and paralegals) to do mechanical tasks, you will leverage their time to do actual lawyer and paralegal work.
  7. Rethink billing and billables. You can be a firm that bills as much as possible or a firm that tries to reduce your client’s bills. Which are you? Whatdoes reducing costs for your client in the short term mean for your firm’s long-term prospects? Can you use technology to reduce the cost of your services—and thereby increase the value of your services?