The one thing that I noticed when I began working or dealing with other attorneys was and is the general lack of technical ability.
Yes, many lawyers carry Blackberrys or some other type of Smartphone but in general its more of a ‘look what I’ve got’, compared to a ‘look what I do’.
To borrow a colorful line, ‘its what you do with it that counts.’
I’ve been a geek all my life and because of that technology has been and is a substantial part of it. I don’t consider myself an early adopter; I’m more the guy that buys the new model car after its been in production a year or two. I don’t appreciate bug ridden software.
More and more is written about improving ones connection with technology but not how ones office life changes when that happens. Being connected ain’t what its cracked up to be when you can’t find a client file or the last email or letter you sent.
Look at technology as a Buffet, and not a full on Drinking of the Kool Aid. Just take what you want and leave the rest. (This could be why I enjoy a Chinese Buffet over a sit down dinner.)
As an example, I suggest you take a taste of Google Apps. Here Google makes available, under a free and paid version, many standard office features. My favorites are email hosting and document storage/sharing. The standard version should be sufficient to give most people enough of a taste as to how you can apply it to your practice before paying for the increased storage and users.
For example, email, which touches in my case 3 different devices, my Laptop, Blackberry and Desktop Computer, is now being hosted under Google Apps. I use the IMAP protocol in order to keep all devices sync’d and this makes sure trash is not waiting for me in 3 different places. Replied to emails have have a copy available to me on all devices through the shared sent folder.
One interesting feature that I have come to enjoy is the ability to search Google Mail when using the desktop applications. I recommend installing the Google Desktop and letting it index everything. This may take several hours but its worth it when you can find all docs that mention a client or term and that can include emails.
Google Docs is the other item I find necessary in my virtual practice. What I’ve done is setup a file folder for each client. This folder can be shared with full access or restricted as needed. And my clients have access to their folder without a need for me to be directly involved.
The thing that is important is when loading the files to keep original formatting. You do this by turning off the conversion feature when selecting the files for upload. This keeps everything just the way you made it. This does limit your options in using the editing features, but it protects your original documents integrity.
I’ve noticed a dramatic reduction in Thumb/Jump/USB drive use on my part because I’ve got up to date access to client records.
So as your Practice joins the 21st Century, I hope you come to realize the flexibility that a virtual office offers.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.