Every lawyer desires to have a thriving practice, busy with clients and files, and sufficient billings to cover the rent. Traditionally, a busy practice meant mountains and mountains of paperwork, and lawyers struggling to keep up. Indeed, despite the desire to build a thriving practice with as many clients as possible, at a certain point, the practice may reach a tipping point where the number of files and clients makes managing the practice difficult or even untenable. The busier the practice, the harder it is for a lawyer to stay on top of their case load. However, not being able to stay on top of the case load is simply not an option for the competent practitioner.
To that end, it is simply shocking the reluctance with which the legal community is prepared to adapt or embrace change, and adopt new or existing technologies that can maximize their ability to manage their practice. What is even more remarkable about this unwillingness to introduce new advancements to the practice of law is that in the recent past, the legal community has embraced technological innovations such as bookkeeping and time management software, email and smart phones.
Each of these innovations, although reluctantly adopted by the legal community, has unequivocally improved the practice of law. Each of these technologies has enabled practitioners to dramatically increase their efficiency, while simultaneously making them more accessible to their clients. Simply put, once adopted, these technologies have served to make the legal community a better place, and lawyers the world over wondered how they ever managed their practice without these tools.
Bookkeeping and time management software allowed lawyers to keep more accurate records of their dockets, appointments and court dates. Similarly, software developments allow lawyers to be notified of pending deadlines for filings, whether it be for statements of claim or defence, affidavits, confirmations of court appointments, or any of a myriad other court filings.
The introduction of email and subsequently smart phones has allowed lawyers to stay in constant contact with their offices and their clients, consequently providing far greater service. Technological advancements have consistently improved the quality of the practice of law. Technology now exists that can make a litigator’s practice far more modern and efficient. It is clear that technology is necessary in a litigation context.
Similarly, in any litigation, there are certain elements and steps to be accomplished that are particularly crucial if success is to be achieved. Research is to be conducted in a timely manner; communication with clients is essential to receiving instructions and carrying them out; motion records may need to be done on short notice; backpages need to be drafted and formatted properly.
For each of the above pressure points over the course of litigation, and many others, there are technological innovations which help to achieve these goals. For any young, aspiring lawyer, who has grown up in an age of readily accessible information and intelligent technologies, it would be anathema to work in a law firm environment that does not embrace time-saving technologies. Who could envision going to work at a firm without high speed internet, reliable internet access, online researching capabilities, laser printers, and file, accounting, or document management programs? Yet there are still law firms and sole practitioners practicing in Ontario who refuse to embrace or adopt these existing technologies. In today’s dog-eat-dog world, where consumers are knowledgeable about the products – or practitioners – they intend to hire, refusing to be progressive is a practice management strategy destined for failure.
Time-saving measures such as these can be both small and large, but ultimately, the simple fact that they improve upon the efficiency of the legal practice cannot go unnoticed. When a client is billed for the lawyer’s time, the client expects the lawyer to be as efficient as possible. The client does not want to pay for the time it takes the lawyer to flip through the various pages of the file to find information that could be easily stored and recalled with the simple click of a mouse.
In this day and age of comparison shopping, the savvy client is far more likely to hire the technologically savvy law firm, as opposed to the archaic, out of touch law firm. When the goal at the end of the day is to provide your clients with the best possible service, it is imperative to embrace legal technologies designed to improve your practice.