Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"I'm Sorry Dave, I'm Afraid I Can't Do That."

The movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey", Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's short story about a doomed human mission to Jupiter features as one of its central characters, the HAL 9000 computer. HAL was a machine like no other: it mimicked human consciousness; ran every aspect of the Jupiter mission; and in the end murdered the entire crew. Nonetheless, when "2001" arrived in theaters in 1969, it heralded an age in the not-so-distant future where computers would be so sophisticated that absolutely anybody would be able to use them, and they would integrate seamlessly into our lives - thereby making humanity more productive and able to fully enjoy life.

In 2005, computers are pretty much everywhere, just about anyone can use them with ease, and they sort've integrate seamlessly into our everyday lives. But do they make us more productive?

In the practice of law, technology is the great equalizer for small/solo practitioners: it allows them to access resources and research that before required expensive libraries that were time consuming to update and accumulate; it allows them to manage cases and schedules with a small or non-existent support staff; and it allows for the sharing of information and communication with clients on a scale nobody could have predicted. The bottom line: technology can make the small/solo practitioner more competitive and enable him to provide value-added services oftentimes comparable to his big firm counterparts.

Technology can also be a headache for small/solo attorneys. If you are like me, you didn't attend law school because you are good with numbers or engineering diagrams. Understanding what sort of technology the small/solo attorney needs and how software and hardware all integrate to grow a practice can be a daunting task. Lexis vs. Westlaw; Client Database Management; Case Management; Forms Database; Scheduling; Blackberries; PDAs; Wireless Internet and Conflict Checks. A quick scan on Google will reveal that there are as many solutions as you can probably conceive of problems.

How dependent is your practice on technology?

What types of techology products would you recommend?

Is all of the technology in your office integrated?

How well do you know your systems?

Are you convinced that your technology expenses are worth the time and money or could you be using your technology budget more efficiently?


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