Law Firm Solutions for the Digital Age
In Michael Connnelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer, attorney and protagonist Mickey Haller epitomizes mobility. His “law office” is his Lincoln Towncar, which certainly saves him on overhead, and allows him to literally bring his practice to his clients. He carries only what he can fit into the vehicle’s trunk and backseat, and his trademark ride grants him prime visibility within the seedier L.A. neighborhoods in which he operates. While we don’t suggest “taking your practice on the road” in this way as a viable business model, there are certain congruities between Haller’s world and our own.
Law firms frequently find themselves having to raise the bar on not only mobility, but productivity, visibility, and organization. Technology and innovation continue to evolve at a greater pace than ever before. Lawyers must have important case documents, and other materials on-hand at all times. On the other end of the issue are your clients. You must be able to communicate and share any pertinent information with current clients, while sporting a strong, highly visible brand image to catch future ones. Today we’ll discuss a few technological solutions that can benefit firms of all sizes, even the slick Mr. Haller’s.
Your head (and everything else) in the cloud
In a legal environment, the cloud offers significant opportunities for enhancing workflow. Cloud services increase mobility by providing instant access to electronic case files and other important information via smart phone, laptop computer, or any other authorized device. The cloud acts as a conduit for lawyers to send emails and check financial balances. It also allows them to communicate with their office, as well as with clients…from the courtroom if necessary.
Ok, so work is no longer confined to the office. You’ve probably known that for a while now. There are, however, other benefits to the cloud. One big one tackles the issue of accessibility. Problems with time or distance may prevent you from scheduling visits with clients. Or, maybe they can’t make it to your office for reasons of their own. This is where the convenience of the cloud comes into play. It allows you to work closer to your clients, wherever you both may be.
Now, let’s move the conversation to saving. Switching to cloud-based data storage can save law firms time and money by removing less efficient onsite servers from the equation. These servers need ample space for storing, and require expensive cooling systems, battery backups, and other hardware for their continuous upkeep. With the cloud, you can eliminate these hassles. Potential IT problems can also be handled more quickly and directly by actual IT experts, saving you and your staff the headache of potentially troubleshooting and fixing issues yourselves. Also, if data is stored offsite on one or more cloud-based servers, then it is safe from natural disasters or acts of vandalism that may occur onsite.
Your digital presence
Building a proper website is important. It must reflect your law firm’s brand and values for future clients, while highlighting its strengths. It must also allow for the same kind of web functionality that these potential clients have become used to elsewhere. To this end, a reputable web design company must be chosen, one that understands your firm and its vision well. What you are establishing here is a partnership, and you must be able to depend on this partner to anticipate your needs, and come to you with ideas for site additions, redesigns, and any necessary trouble-shooting.
The process, from deciding what messaging and imagery should go on your site, to choosing a web design company should be a collaborative one. Of course, some staff will offer more useful input than others. Creating a website committee that is just big enough to allow for a variety of opinions and ideas is recommended. You must choose this committee wisely. Having too many members, or too many “strong” personalities, will result in perpetual conflict over design and direction of the site, and cause unwanted delays.
A good website should also allow for mobile compatibility. We can’t stress this enough, as it goes beyond simple convenience for potential clients. Mobile friendliness plays a big part in Google’s search system, and will likely be the difference between a favorable ranking for your site, and having it lost in the wilderness of the internet. Between being a Lincoln, or a Yugo in the eyes of the major search engines.
Your library at your fingertips
Your law firm is your enterprise, and part of preserving and expanding that enterprise involves the seamless digitization of certain resources, one important one being your law library. Successfully implementing a digital law library alleviates the space and budgetary concerns associated with maintaining a physical library, and accommodates the increasing use of mobile devices and eBooks by lawyers and staff both in and out of the office.
The process of moving a law library over to a digital platform can be different for many law firms. A slow and steady approach is advised for firms who still have a preference for printed materials, offering only certain important titles as e-books at first. If your firm has already committed to a technological overhaul, then a faster switchover is suggested. This method is also advised if there are any prevalent cost concerns surrounding the maintenance of a physical library.
Remember that there is no universal digital law library technology. There are many programs out there, and you should take care to choose one that seamlessly integrates with your other digital systems and programs to get the full range of benefits. What “other systems” are we talking about? An example can be legal information services for your firm’s research needs. The process of integrating disparate systems, or dovetailing newer systems with older ones, is confusing, time consuming, and costly.
Law firms, like most businesses, must ask themselves the same question every year: Where are we? This is an open-ended question to be sure, but in the digital age, where the world doesn’t begin at 8 a.m. and certainly doesn’t stop at 5, you must be able to give the same answer that the fictional Mickey Haller does—
| HCRC Staffing | Brian@hcrcstaffing.com | www.hcrcstaffing.com