It’s been a while so time for a visual aid. I love this great, targeted infographic on lawyers’ use of mobile devices. This image really gets at the where, when and how. Thanks to Niki Black at MyCase for the tip off – if you aren’t familiar with MyCase, check out their website. They offer a great, cloud-based practice management application that supports agile lawyers and is as mobile friendly as they get.
Christopher G. Hill is lawyer, Virginia Supreme Court certified General District Court mediator and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC, a LEED AP. Chris authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals. Additionally, Chris is active in the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and a member of the Board of Governors for the Construction Law and Public Contracts Section of the Virginia State Bar.
First of all, thanks again to my pal Martha Sperry for the great opportunity to post here at The Advocates Studio yet again (this is my fifth guest post and the fourth cross posting between the Studio and Construction Law Musings). Please check out my other posts relating to my solo startup, social media and my use of the cloud once you’re done with this article.
Also, be sure to check out Martha’s great post on the iPhone 5 and productivity at Musings. Martha also adds some great thoughts, practical advice, and a bit of humor to the Guest Post Friday lineup.
Now, on with the show. . .
You are probably wondering about the title of this post. If you’ve read through Musings, or any of my other posts relating to the use of the cloud or tech here and elsewhere, you know that the “cloud” and other computer and web-based practice tools are a big part of my solo construction practice. So, why the “luddite” comment?
Despite the fact that a wise lady once told me that “there’s always someone who knows less than you,” I am constantly surprised by those who come to me for advice on social media, blogging or even tech related stuff. I have never seen myself as a computer or tech whiz by any means. While computers have never been scary to me, I remember when a great home computer was an Apple //e and the mouse was an innovation. In short, like many of us lawyers (particularly those over 40) I’m muddling through just like you are. That said, necessity has been the mother of invention.
You are reading the thoughts of the owner and only employee of my law firm. As such, when I’m not at my desk, no one is. When I went solo over 2 years ago now (who knew time could fly so fast), I needed to simplify, lower overhead and make myself portable. I also didn’t have time to learn a lot of new stuff.
On the marketing side, I sent out announcements by actual snail mail (who knew that the post office could still help out a lawyer?), but to do this I pulled my Outlook and Gmail contacts to send to the mailing service. I was able to “take” my construction blog with me, continued with the blog and social media efforts, and started meeting with folks in real-time (partly because contractors don’t really take to “virtual” meetings).
While my marketing is a seriously blended web/on the ground mix, my practice management is as paperless and cloud based as I can make it. For me, this is where the tech rubber meets the road. When I started my new firm I grabbed a Clio account, imported my contacts and started to store .pdfs of my documents on Clio’s cloud based system. Since then, Clio (among other cloud based systems) has gotten more feature-rich and easy to use, adding online credit card processing and easy one click billing.
The reason I like the cloud for this sort of thing has little to do with my love of gadgets (though that does have something to do with it) but with the need to assure client service by having access to my files from anywhere with a safe internet connection (read, not Starbucks). I can pull up my Blackberry Playbook tablet, hook to Clio through my bridged Blackberry Curve (really, I’m not kidding, I don’t own an iPhone or an iPad) or laptop and review a document while out of the office. I also don’t like to have any more paper than I can help because of the clutter and space issues with my one office setup.
Other tools I use? A ScanSnap S1500 scanner that allows me to scan to both my docked laptop and to Clio directly, Backblaze for offsite backup and, as a second failsafe a GoFlex hard drive that constantly backs all of this stuff up all help keep my practice running. I also use Google Apps for e-mail and occasional collaboration.
In short (yes, I know it’s too late for that), I see no reason to jump into the cloud full force unless it makes your practice easier and makes it easier to keep your clients happy. The telephone (not “smartphone”) is a great tool for actually talking to clients and potential targets. E-mail, Twitter, text messages and other uses for cell phones are great, just don’t forget that all of our clients are real people and that tech for techs sake is not necessarily the best way to serve yourself or your clients.
There are a ton of great tech tools and gadgets out there, just be sure to use the ones that help and jettison those that don’t.
Thanks again to my pal Martha and I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Total Attorneys is a web-based (read: cloud-based) law practice management program. Essentially, TA provides the means for clients to retain your services, make payments, upload documents and complete forms online, while you and your colleagues can access complete case files at any time from any location with a secure Internet connection. Manage your practice, track time, send bills, manage documents and communicate with clients, all from a centralized Web location. They even offer virtual receptionist services from their Chicago location. Sounds pretty cool, right?
It gets cooler. TA has now implemented an App store for its platform, called Total Apps, unveiling the wonder at the ABA Tech show going on in Chicago as we speak. The first apps out of the box include:
• Fastcase, for legal research
• Capital Payments, for payment processing
• LegalEase, for attorney and paralegal contract support services
• Legal Web Experts, for website creation and marketing
• Virtual Receptionist, for fielding calls
• LawQA, to showcase expertise
• Google Sync, to keep Contacts, Calendars and Tasks in line
• IfByPhone, to reach out to leads that have contacted you
• LegalLeads, TA’s own lead generation service
Plus, TA has an iPhone and iPad app to enable access to the platform while on the go. The timetracking feature on the mobile apps is ultra simple to use, making it quite easy to accurately keep time. Plus you can easily access the various tasks within the platform and, I presume in the near future, the apps via the mobile interface as well.
TA is making its API available to developers in the hopes that third parties will pick up and run with the store and integrate more functionality into the platform. I think this is a forward-thinking means of managing legal practice in a way our rapidly mobilized society can understand – with app-based, tool-oriented deployable solutions. Nice work, guys.