Small firms & solos missing the technology boat

Small firms and sole practitioners who aren’t using Dropbox, cloud computing, and even digital dictation are missing the boat, says Manitoba lawyer Bjorn Christianson.

“Farmers in Manitoba are using more technology and are more connected now than most lawyers. They’re on their sophisticated combines with smartphones that allow them to communicate from anywhere in the field by phone or e-mail,” says Christianson.

“If you’re their lawyer and you want to reach them now all you have to do is use Dropbox to send your files to them and they’ll have it within minutes. The technology we have now is so much better at allowing us to protect our clients, but you as a lawyer have to be on board.”

Christianson made the comments during the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo in Toronto yesterday. The two-day conference discussed technology in law and practice management.

Reid Trautz, a practice management adviser from the United States, joined Christianson to discuss some of the essential technologies the pair felt every small firm should have.

Trautz said apart from Dropbox, small firms and sole practitioners should also consider backing up their information in the cloud, keeping their e-mail current, and using voice recognition technology.

“Get your hands off the keyboard and use voice recognition software to make your practice more effective,” said Trautz. “Productivity will skyrocket and you’ll be able to use the time you saved to actually practise law.”

Christianson added using digital dictation makes it easier for small firms that have less staff helping out with administrative tasks.

“Your practice is not all about you, it’s about your systems too,” he noted. “Make them easy to use and it will be better for everyone involved, including your staff. You should be focusing on the legal work and let someone else worry about the typing.”

For sole practitioners, Christianson pointed out that outsourcing typing and other administrative duties is also an option.

“Get over outsourcing. Use technology to dictate your notes in a digital format and then e-mail it to a company like Speak Write [that] uses local virtual assistants,” he added. “They’ll have it back to you in a typed format in two to three hours for a fraction of the cost it would be to hire someone full-time.”

Reid and Christianson wrapped up their seminar on a light note, noting sole practitioners and small firms should, most of all, know what technology is out there and have fun using it.

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