In today's competitive job market, new lawyers need to learn tech skills if they want to stand out. When the economy crashed and technology began improving at a rapid pace, it became apparent that lawyers (especially solo lawyers) could no longer simply rely on tech-proficient staffers. It's time for lawyers to be their own best assistant when it comes to using computer applications and legal practice software in the day-to-day practice of law.
First things first. every lawyer -- indeed, every office worker -- must be generally familiar with Microsoft Outlook. It is still the industry standard. The program is part of Microsoft's Office Suite but can be used as a standalone product.
For most attorneys, Microsoft Outlook isn't appreciated as anything more than their office in-box. Younger attorneys probably know the trick of syncing their Gmail accounts with Outlook in order to reduce clutter. If you're not familiar this trick and others like it, we've covered the basics before.
Legal Practice Software
Fee agreements, client communications, pleadings, forms ... this all used to be done by hand.
About the only people who have the luxury of handling their client files by hand (with real paper) today are older attorneys who have a solid client base. All young attorneys are expected to be proficient in one or more of the basic types of LPM software.
Some software packages cater to specific types of practice while others are more generalized. New legal software is appearing every day. For example, we recently covered the launch of Practice Point. If you're a solo attorney or work at a small firm, you should do research to find out what's best for your needs.
Excel and Spreadsheets
Who would have thought that Excel would have maintained its relevance after so many years? By now, data compilation software abounds in the marketplace but Excel still keeps a presence.
It's true that online flash programs have saved lawyers' rear ends for want of basic spreadsheet skills, but it's probably a good time to go out and learn spreadsheet basics. A few hours' worth of YouTubing will get you up to speed on the most basic calculation tricks. For those who like order, excelfunctions.net is a go-to reference we like.
Social Media Dashboards
This is something else that's new. Hopefully your firm is socially connected. If it isn't, you're losing potential business. There's Twitter, Facebook, etc. But handling all of those accounts can be a real hassle. Fortunately, there's an app for that, and the interface is very user friendly. Social media dashboards aren't exactly intimidating, but for some reason attorneys still seem reticent to learn how to use them. Don't be.