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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of June 4, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

West Palm Beach was warm and wet, but the ABA LPM conference was all I expected, and then some. One of the issues we discussed was the ethics of going to the cloud and the need to frequently back up your entire system. Don't put your head in the sand.

It's good to return home ... moderate weather. Compared to the rest of the country and its horrific attacks by nature, we live in Paradise. But, then, I knew that before this trip.

Let me know if you want to get together in Philadelphia on June 12th.
Ed signature

Inefficiently Using Technology is Misusing Technology

I recently heard the general counsel of a major automotive manufacturer say that law firms don't need more software. Rather, he continued, they need to use their existing software more efficiently and effectively. This GC saved more than 40 hours of billable time from one firm by directing the firm to use Word for printing to a .pdf file rather than scanning the documents. The firm hadn't done it because it didn't know how.

Such issues are replicated time and again, because the individualistic nature of law firm practice, with lawyers working in their own "silos," acts against efficient use of technology. Consider the concept of knowledge management (KM), the systematic organization of law firm work product such that every brief, pleading, contract and form prepared for each specific matter is indexed and available for use by all a firm's lawyers. Computerized KM systems make information available faster and more completely, and do so firm-wide. But the process only works when the information is classified and categorized consistently and from the start, by all lawyers in a firm. The justification is a simple one - avoid the hamster mentality of running hard without getting anywhere, by making all useful information the common stock in trade of the firm.

Too often KM is thought of as purely a high tech endeavor that combines the work product of all lawyers into a single unified database. Best practices require every firm, whether one lawyer or one thousand, to create a standard classification system for each lawyer's work. The heart of the process is to identify precedent documents that can be used in future matters and ensure that they are both identified and easily accessible. This is only feasible by using shared document management systems and shared email files in Outlook.

However, if the technology is not integrated systematically from the start, the result will be a haphazard, after-the-fact efforts that dooms KM efforts to failure. Moreover, the KM process only works when the information is classified and categorized consistently and frequently. Many lawyers believe that this is not billable time, particularly after a transaction or case is completed, and so they either do not do it or do it incompletely. No matter how sophisticated the database, knowledge management only works when all knowledge is shared so all lawyers can access it. Failure to invest the time need to update the knowledge management database weakens it; and holdouts reduce the value for colleagues and clients alike. What should be a high tech solution is diminished by inefficiency - the kind of inefficiency that client GCs will no longer tolerate.

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In this issue:

Inefficiently Using Technology is Misusing Technology

Selling Your Law Practice AND Life After Law...55% OFF!

Video: Why Marketing Matters for Lawyers, Part 2

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Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
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