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Technology Trends for Family Law


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Carol Schlein's "Technology Trends and Best Practices for Family Lawyers" presentation to the New Jersey Association for Justice, Meadowlands Seminars 2011. November 10th, 2011. Carol is a founding member of Lawtopia LLC and President of Law Office syste

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Technology Trends for Family Law

  1. 1. Presented by Carol L. Schlein, Esq. Legal Technology Consultant Law Office Systems, Inc. a Founding member of Lawtopia™ LLC 973-746-6454Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  2. 2.  Plan!  Budget!  Do your homework!  Small firm tools are not the same as those for bigger firms  Set up, establish and document systems to plan for growth and turnover  Options are changing quickly  Desktop, cloud or comboCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  3. 3.  Computer: Desktop or Laptop and/or Tablet ◦ PC or Mac? ◦ Dual Monitors or Wide Screen?  Internet Connection: Cable/ DSL/ Fiber (FIOS)  Printer/ Scanner/ Copier/ Fax combination  Backup (remote and removable USB drives)Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  4. 4.  Multiple locations?  Data in existing systems?  Familiarity with available applications?  Server-based or virtual?  Need remote access?  Smart phone data policy?  Anticipate future needs  Document Procedures  Make sure you have backup and disaster planning procedures in placeCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  5. 5.  Onsite:  Equipment and programs are purchased and run from your own office  Hosted:  Firm purchased apps and data are stored on remote server for monthly hosting fee  Cloud:  Data and apps are provided by vendor for monthly feeCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  6. 6.  Monthly costs v. pay in full  Constant updates v. upgrades and service packs  Backup built in  Requires internet access/ work from anywhere  Security ◦ How safe is their system? ◦ How safe is the data in your office?  Maturity of applications  Vendor viability  Data conversion  Can cloud vendor meet all needs or will you still need a server?Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  7. 7. Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011 Source: Advologix Website
  8. 8.  Good “bang for the buck”  Combo lets you transcribe your dictations  Digital dictation files can be sent to office workers or routed within office  Need high powered workstation  Dragon Naturally Speaking  Grundig Digta 7Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  9. 9.  Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)  Cell / Smartphones  Outsourced Virtual Services  “Unified Phone Systems”Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  10. 10.  Have a real website and domain  Get comfortable with Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)  Consider Blogging  Staff and Client access to selected data  Schedule appointments via website or internet tools  Obtain forms and status remotely  Intake processCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  11. 11.  Virtualization – using server to “host” workstations  Thin Client options – server does most processing  Electronic Documents – know how to make PDFs  Scanners  “Platform as a Service” (PasS)  Hosted Services (your apps and data)  Collaboration tools – remote meetings  Ethics, confidentiality and discovery rules have not caught up to changes in technologyCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  12. 12.  Microsoft Office/ Google Docs (Business)  Billing  Accounting Separate or Combined  Practice Management  Document Management  Adobe Acrobat Standard  Antivirus / Antispam  Practice Area Specific applicationsCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  13. 13.  Billing/ Accounting ◦ Timeslips| PCLaw|Tabs3| Billing Matters| Quickbooks  Practice Management ◦ Time Matters| Amicus Attorney| Practice Master  Cloud Practice Mgt/ Billing ◦ Advologix| Clio| Credenza| Houdini Esq| Law Firm Manager| Rocket Matter  Document Management ◦ Built into some Practice Management products NetDocuments (cloud) | Dropbox| Worldox GX₂Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  14. 14.  Manages shared contacts, calendars, case status  Can also manage docs, email and more  Can handle increased caseload  Better management of deadlines  Sharing case, client and contact information  Improve Staff productivity  Manage delegated tasks  Reduce malpractice insurance and riskCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  15. 15.  Have a good spam filter Learn to set up rules Connect to practice management or document management program Don’t print out Try to use less paper! Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  16. 16.  Vendor experience  Vendor funding  Product maturity  Need for customization  Internet access v. equipment costs  Your current and future needs  Ability to import from/ export to other apps  Link optionsCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  17. 17.  Previous familiarity with products  Do you have data to convert?  Core functions you need for your practice?  Budget?  Remote or local assistance  Learn best practices for implementation to match firm’s workflow  Invest in training – initially and refreshCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  18. 18.  Vendors go in and out of business ◦ Stay Flexible – make sure you can get data out if needed ◦ Do Your Homework before signing on with vendors ◦ Follow trends ◦ In late 1980s, the most popular word processors were DisplayWriter, Multimate, Samna and WordPerfect. ◦ By mid 1990’s, Microsoft Word dominated legal marketplaceCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  19. 19.  Opportunity to streamline workflow ◦ Incorporate scanning, paperless practices to be more efficient ◦ Work to match your intake process to your tools ◦ Do periodic review of procedures and use of technology ◦ Do refresher training when upgrading  Better delivery of services to clients ◦ Immigration clients outside US ◦ Collaboration with groups of clients  Attract better clientsCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  20. 20.  When to send bills (before end of month)  Have clear engagement letter  Review your billing rates  Consider Flat Fees but monitor them  Make sure your billing system can track Accounts Receivable  Have someone else call clients who owe you $$Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  21. 21.  Caveats: ◦ Tech is constantly changing ◦ It’s easy to make bad decisions ◦ Vendors come and go ◦ Focus on your needs ◦ Implement slowly and methodicallyCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  22. 22.  Convenience v. safety of your data ◦ Do you have a password policy? ◦ What data is on your cell phone/ laptop? ◦ Take precautions on public networks  Staff Quality of Life v. 24/7 Burnout  Ease of access v. client confidentiality ◦ Who has access to your firm’s data? ◦ What happens if provider goes out of business? ◦ How secure is the data in your office?Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  23. 23.  Need for conference rooms or meeting space depending on practice  Use remote collaboration tools to work remotely with staff, clients and adversaries  Manage work done by staff  Plan for major changes in technology  Generational Differences among staff ◦ “Digital Natives” v “Digital Immigrants”Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  24. 24.  We’re going through a volatile time  Some of the major vendors in the market may not be leaders in a few years and unknowns may take over  Do your homework and proceed with cautionCopyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011
  25. 25. Presented by Carol L. Schlein, Esq. Legal Technology Consultant Law Office Systems, Inc. a Founding Member of Lawtopia™ LLC 973-746-6454Copyright Law Office Systems Inc 2011