Legal Tech Decisions: Where to Start

by Shawn L. Holahan, ABA TECHSHOW Board 2015

The right legal technology can help level the playing field for the solo and small office practitioner. However, one size doesn’t fit all.  Appropriate legal technology choices should take into consideration your type of practice, your existing equipment, and whether you have staff, among other things. Other questions include whether you need a tech overhaul due to obsolete equipment, or whether you merely want to augment what you currently have.  How do you find out what’s right for you?  Where do you start?

The good news is that easily understood, legal tech information is at your fingertips — much of it at no cost. Online resources are just a click away.

Candid, Product-Specific Reviews

Avail yourself of candid, product-specific reviews by tech-able, practicing lawyers, nationwide and locally, who have vetted tech solutions in their blogs.

Examples of excellent lawyer blogs with product reviews are:

  •  Catering to the Apple lawyer, Katie Floyd’s blog brings her insights as a litigator to the world of Mac.  She is the co-creator/host of Mac Power Users Podcast which teaches listeners how to get the most from Apple technology with focused topics and workflow guests. 
  • Law Practice Management and Technology, Chicago Bar Ass’n:  Catherine Sanders Reach, who directs this center for the bar, is a prolific writer and frequent speaker on matters tech.  She has populated the site with tips and tricks to ease your tech decision making.
  • Law Practice Tips Blog:  Jim Calloway, Esq. is the Practice Management Advisor with the Oklahoma State Bar Association.  A noted author and speaker on matters technology, he generously shares with his erudite pith and views which most will find extremely helpful when making technology decisions.
  •  Since 2007 attorney-creators Sam Glover and Aaron Street (with a trove of regularly contributing legal tech pundits) deliver a FREE daily online magazine blog about law practice management, marketing and technology with a strong community of lawyers.
  • Law Technology Today:  Launched in 2012 and published by the ABA, LTT’s managing editor, Gwynne Monahan collects relevant videos, podcasts and articles from practicing lawyers, technology professionals, and practice management.  The FREE site also provides a useful legal technology buyer’s guide and archives its substantial collection of relevant articles.  
  • SC Small  Courtney Kennaday, Esq., the Director of the South Carolina Bar Practice Management Assistance Program, pulls from her considerable experience in legal technology to maintain this blog which focuses on the small office practitioner and his or her technology needs.   
  • TechnoLawyer:  Founded in 1999 by former litigator Neil J. Squillante, TechnoLawyer offers a network of FREE email newsletters dedicated to lawyers.  It provides a wealth of legal technology information, including buyer’s guides and software reviews, through noted authors on legal technology, law office management and law firm marketing.

For  other lawyer blog examples, check the 2014 ABA Journal Blawg 100 under “Legal Tech.”

ABA’s Legal Resource Technology Center

Go online to the ABA’s Legal Resource Technology Center (LRTC) for a variety of excellent FREE resources (an impressive amount is available without an ABA membership).  Periodically check back for articles by lawyer authors and by the ABA’s LRTC able staff who post regularly on technology topics and products.

Access a Podcast

Podcast interviews and videos are also solid methods in keeping up to speed with technology.  For example, hear podcasts by Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway on the ABA’s The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology, where they interview practitioners who offer their views and critiques on products and tech strategies.

Like Real Books? 

An excellent  resource  in  softbound book form is the annual Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple by Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek and Michael C. Maschke.  This annual guide is the only one of its kind, written to assist the small office practitioner find the best tech for the dollar. You’ll find the most current information and recommendations on computers, servers, networking equipment, legal software, cloud computing, printers, security products, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and anything else a lawyer might need in the way of tech. The authors also provide step-by-step instructions for making sound tech decisions.  This book is worth a look.

Ask Your Colleagues

Finally and perhaps best yet, tech advice also can come from your fellow practitioners. Find others whose practices are like yours and compare notes. Attend your bar organization’s technology seminars and, in particular, Solo and Small Firm Conferences, which often feature top technology speakers and offer important networking opportunities to discuss technology decisions with your fellow practitioners.



Copyright 2014 Louisiana State Bar Association. The Louisiana State Bar Association allows the republication of this article (with “Copyright 2014 Louisiana State Bar Association” included with usage) and reserves the right to publish in its own print and online publications at a future date