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Tech up or Die: Law Firms Survive Better With Technology

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on April 25, 2016 6:59 AM

Luddites take note: technology ought not be shunned, but embraced. Becoming comfortable and current with tech is increasingly a determinant in how likely your firm is to survive over the long term.

And it's not even just about how competent your firm actually is, either. Even client perceptions can be crucial.

Actual Speed

The pen was replaced by the typewriter. The typewriter was replaced with the keyboard and printer. Again and again, technology has sped up the pace of commerce. Some people love it, some people hate it. Everyone knows a faster pace can be expected tomorrow.

Lawyers suffer the reputation for hating change, but we think that's a little unfair. In fact, many lawyers embrace technology. After all, technology is here to make our lives easier.

Improving Your Know-How

It's not so much hardware changes that are happening these days, but software changes. The programs that assist lawyers, accountants, and other professionals in their work are written in programming languages that few people besides programmers can understand. If we had a dollar for every app out there that promised to simplify our lives, we wouldn't need to be lawyers.

So, today's lawyer could really help himself by spending some of his well-earned vacation time researching new software that's right for your firm. For that matter, you may even want to learn the basics of coding.

Ethics of Keeping up With Technology

Even if you're not feeling particularly inclined to learn a programming language, the ABA has instructed lawyers to "keep abreast of changes in the law and it's practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology." We're pretty sure this means getting help from others if you can't manage your own technical affairs. And there's no shame in that: large firms are hiring outside IT firms all the time to handle e-discovery, networks, and outside malware attacks.

Client Perceptions

And then there's the whole appearances game. Attorneys must be aware that perceptions of their tech know-how is crucial to their ability to market themselves. You must convince your clients that you have their files backed up with two layers of redundancy, and that you are shielded against hackers. If your clients get the impression that you're still doing things "the old way," they might as well move on to another attorney who stays up to date. Plus, your ability to charge clients the same price for a task that might have cost $500 years ago will probably no longer fly.

Fear not. Getting the most basic knowledge in technology is pretty easy. About a week's worth of study in message encryption, legal software, and social media dashboards should cure what ails your crotchety old firm.

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