Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Too Tech-Dependent

As a relatively new solo with no full-time staff, I am very metsfan03/13/17
f-ck, no. Have you ever tried researching case law using bo dingbat03/13/17
As a new solo myself, I can't imagine running a staffless of qport03/13/17
Imagine practicing law back in the 1950s or 60s before even flharfh03/13/17
Imagine having to do only about a quarter of the work, takin thedarkscrivener03/14/17
Do computers go down anymore? As long as you keep everythin therewillbeblood03/14/17
Frankly, I think it's more about losing power or connection. qdllc03/14/17
No way. I'd eat a bullet if I had to research the law the wa isthisit03/14/17
Tech has gotten better -- some internet service providers ar mrtor03/14/17
I have a mixed feeling about technology in law offices. O qdllc03/14/17
metsfan (Mar 13, 2017 - 7:47 am)

As a relatively new solo with no full-time staff, I am very tech-dependent. It seems that every time the computer is down, printer doesn't work, phone dies, etc. that it is next to impossible to get any work done. Generally technology has made lawyers' lives easier-or has it? Is there such a thing as being too dependent on technology, and too vulnerable to something going down?

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dingbat (Mar 13, 2017 - 9:27 am)

f-ck, no.
Have you ever tried researching case law using books? Have you ever hand-written a document? Even a typewriter sucks compared to a computer. I once closed a deal while on a boat on a lake. Without technology, I wouldn't have been able to take the day off, because deadlines and all. (yes, my underlings could do it, and yes, they did, but it was ultimately my neck on the line and I didn't trust those morons to get it done right - and I actually did have to fix their screw-up in the middle of it)

The most important thing is (1) make sure your technology works. I know as a solo it's difficult, but spend the extra money to get quality equipment, and treat your computer as a work computer - no games, movies, or anything else that's not pertinent and may destabilize your operating system. (2) don't be a slave to technology. Block off times where you're unavailable for phone calls and not replying to emails because you're busy doing IMPORTANT WORK THAT CANNOT BE DISTURBED. I know someone who does it other way around and blocks off time for answering calls and emails - the rest of the time phones will not be answered and emails will not be read.
I know we live in an on-demand world, but you can train your clients to understand such limitations, and if explained properly, they'll accept that.

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qport (Mar 13, 2017 - 2:31 pm)

As a new solo myself, I can't imagine running a staffless office without a high degree of automation/technology. The efficiency gains are tremendous and necessary to allow you to service far more clients than you could otherwise. Efiling means no wasteful trips to the courthouse. Cloud based office management software means all documents can be scanned in and stored off-site and accessible anywhere. Automated templates can cut down the amount of time to create standard letters/documents. Aside from the physical act of printing and mailing letters, there is nothing I can do at the office that I can't do at a coffee shop on my laptop or ipad.

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flharfh (Mar 13, 2017 - 2:58 pm)

Imagine practicing law back in the 1950s or 60s before even simple things like answering machines and photocopiers were in widespread use. Pleadings and briefs were dictated by an attorney and then typed by a secretary (because typing was a specialized skill taught to secretaries). Everything that is copy/pasted today had to be re-typed every time. Legal research required a full set of case books. You pretty much had to have an office and a full time secretary.

Email, word processing, the internet, and electronic document storage has probably eliminated 1 support job for every 2-3 attorneys.

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thedarkscrivener (Mar 14, 2017 - 12:16 pm)

Imagine having to do only about a quarter of the work, taking a two-hour lunch (with booze), leaving the office at 5, and making enough money to afford not only the full-time secretary but also a housekeeper for your shiny midcentury modern home.

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therewillbeblood (Mar 14, 2017 - 8:50 am)

Do computers go down anymore? As long as you keep everything on the cloud and keep a cheap backup computer you should be fine.

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qdllc (Mar 14, 2017 - 10:07 am)

Frankly, I think it's more about losing power or connection. If you have an "in house" server, loss of power means nothing can be done...invest in a power backup for critical systems (PCs, minimal lights, server, etc.). If you use a "cloud" setup, make sure both it and the means to connect is stable with little to no down time.

A prior boss tried a cloud-based "server" type of setup. The lag was insane because it was all handled through a web interface and not a VPN (as was the case with the upstairs server rack). No matter what type of connection he paid for, the lag was incurable because every request had to be sent through the Internet and wait for a response. In contrast (for those who don't know), a VPN only sends keyboard, mouse and A/V data back and forth. You're "remote controlling" an interface on the server itself. Almost no lag time unless too many people are trying to do something on the server at one time.

Current firm has MULTIPLE server racks and all is done via VPN. Still, if comms with the home office get disrupted, none of the satellite offices can get much done except try to work on the local OS (and hope what you need isn't drawing from a network directory). Last week, a construction crew buggered something and we had no data contact with home office for the rest of the day. There was no redundancy for data transmission. Even our copier was useless as it makes us log what account to bill copies to before we can utilize any functions. Without a connection to home office, it wouldn't let us past the initial screen.

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isthisit (Mar 14, 2017 - 9:12 am)

No way. I'd eat a bullet if I had to research the law the way the old timers used to.

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mrtor (Mar 14, 2017 - 9:23 am)

Tech has gotten better -- some internet service providers are still lagging behind. I empathize with practitioners (usually more rural) who depend on substandard service providers. If the internet goes down, you could lose access to everything.

Technology has made our lives easier. Unfortunately, it has also reshaped client expectations and billing. Gone are the days of paying attorneys hours to search through reporters or sift through archived records at the courthouse. Clients expect you to locate the answer with the aid of technology in minutes.

It's a double edged sword. I just hope the edge that benefits us doesn't lag behind the one that aids our clients.

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qdllc (Mar 14, 2017 - 10:11 am)

I have a mixed feeling about technology in law offices.

Obviously, I love how it can make things easier, neater, faster, etc.

The downside is that I frankly think people are pushed to do a lot more in the same time frame because of how technology makes it "easier."

Automation claimed that we'd get more done in less time and have more free time. Instead, we're only saddled with more to do, and God help us if the tech fails because there's no way to keep up doing it "old school."

More so, as the march to more sophisticated VI and AI systems continues, more and more tasks will be replaced by automation. Lawyers aren't immune to this. Even if all a lawyer is needed for is to talk to clients and present cases in court, imagine the caseload because a machine is doing most everything else.

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