Using technology in a law office setting

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Date: Fall 2008
From: American Journal of Family Law(Vol. 22, Issue 3)
Publisher: Aspen Publishers, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,917 words
Lexile Measure: 1250L

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Technology is the use of machines to store and retrieve data and to perform repetitive acts quickly and efficiently. We don't often think of the toaster as technology, but it is. Every law office has a computer. A computer is the cornerstone of law office technology. But, it is frequently the most underutilized tool in the office. It is often used only as a word processor and/or for a client database. This limited use of such a powerful tool is like a soldier throwing his loaded rifle at the enemy.

In our office, we use technology for word processing and client database functions, but we try to utilize the computer in many other ways. We use it for project management, development of and implementation of legal strategy, keeping in touch with our office on a real time basis, storage in electronic form of all documents received or generated in the office, elimination of our client's paper files, real time communications with each other on working documents, and instant access to all information received or generated in the office.

We are able to perform these functions from any broadband (high speed) connection at any location on the planet. The basic software tool that we use is called "remote desktop connection". It is available in all platforms (the stuff that makes your computer work), e.g. Windows, Apple, and Unix. In fact, it is a fix for cross platform issues when some associates prefer the Macintosh platform to the Windows platform. In addition, it allows the entire office to use the same version of software, and in many cases can save substantial licensing costs.

ASSESSING YOUR NEED FOR TECHNOLOGY

Ask yourself, "What do I do that could be done more quickly and efficiently by technology?" This follows the assumption that what you are choosing to do is important to your practice.

The best place to start is to gather anything that you need to do that you are carrying around in your head and put it down on paper. When you have gathered everything that is in your head, you then transfer it to an electronic file on your computer. This process ensures that nothing is forgotten, and that everything will be done in a timely manner. (1) There are numerous programs for this. (2)

This type of program is not a client management program. It is a project management program. Client management programs are essentially an address book, a calendar, and a to do list which are more or less linked together around some common item, e.g. file number, name, or to do reminder. A project management program differs from client management software in that it includes all of the above, but is designed to make you decide the next physical action needed to be done, in the context of: what can be performed; at this time at this particular physical location; and which "next physical action" (3) will bring you the greatest benefit of all the next actions that you could...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A184851940