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5 Tech Skills Every Lawyer Needs to Know

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 23, 2015 5:59 AM

Some lawyer stereotypes don't really die. One of the most enduring and dubious quirks attorneys get accused of is being stick-in-the-mud Luddites.

Like it or not, technology marches on, and attorneys must adapt. Below is a short list of tech skills that are sine qua non for any modern attorney.

1. Learn to Use Your OS/File Management System

Most attorneys above the age of forty have shockingly little exposure to the full workings of a word processor. Instead of pressing the space bar one hundred times to justify-right, take an hour to learn formatting skills from various free YouTube videos. Stop using your word processor like a typewriter.

2. Search Ability

As an attorney, you should be very good at searching for information. Mercifully for many, improved search algorithms have made the need for persons to be fluent in Boolean copula a thing of the past, but attorneys should still be very familiar between the nuances of and and or. If not, your problems go beyond simply being deficient in tech.

3. Learning MetaData

Meta -- Greek for beyond -- is a prefix that refers to something above the thing itself. In the case of metadata, it is data about the data file itself. You should at least be aware of its existence and potential influence on your practice.

Metadata will reveal who read what when, who modified a file, and can even linger on to reveal whom the file is about -- even when the subject data has been cleared at the lower level. Be very careful of protecting your clients' confidences with new and novel metadata vulnerabilities.

4. Securing Your Documents

In the old days, security of documents was as simple as locking the door to the office. Culture surrounding document security was much more relaxed. Technology and attitudes have since shifted drastically but attorneys have predictably lagged. Unfortunately, the most basic security measures are overcome easily by skilled hackers these days -- but practitioners should still configure their files so that they can only be opened with key, write-protect those documents, and learn how to convert those files from PDF to DOCX -- and vice-versa.

5. Get Good With Your Apps

This skill comes with an asterisk. Apps make mundane tasks like scheduling and email response much easier than having to devote time to those tasks back at the office. Unfortunately, it also encourages dependence and laziness. It also means that your mobile device is vulnerable to attack on the various networks.

In America, this might not be too much of a problem (yet), but if you travel to places like China, it is advised you employ much more draconian measures to protect your data up to and including not using your phone in public.

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