Several weeks ago, 2000 attorneys gathered in Chicago for the annual ABA TechShow. The three-day long event brings together attorneys from around the country for educational sessions on advancements in technology and their application to the legal industry. And while this event is met with excitement by many attorneys, not all are quick to get onboard with new technology. Younger associates in smaller firms often complain that senior partners are resistant to new technology and rely on antiquated software which can slow productivity. If you find yourself in a similar scenario, take the steps below to form an argument the managing partner won’t be able to refute:
Do Your Research
As an attorney, you know the foundation to any effective argument is some serious research. If you know there are flaws with one of the processes or software that your firm uses, seek alternatives but make sure you do a comprehensive search for all of the available options. Whether it is a practice management tool, email host or even a better scanner, there are entire listservs devoted to the discussion of such topics and they can be a great place to start. There is absolutely no point to poke holes at current applications until you’ve decided on the new technology you will offer as a solution.
It will take some time but if you’re going to convince the partners to ditch software or equipment, you’re going to need to clearly demonstrate the difference between what is currently in use in your office and what you’re recommending. A simply matrix highlighting the differences can often make an impression. Something like the following is quick and easy to make:
|Law Firm Needs-Scheduling System||Current Software||Proposed Software|
|Ability to check calendar remotely from laptop or phone||X||X|
|Attorney can give paralegal access to calendar||X||X|
|Calendar sends reminder to attendees before meeting||X|
|Syncs with Outlook appointment requests||X|
|Generatesmonthly reports to reconcile with billable hours||X|
Many attorneys look at the cost incurred when getting started with new software or buying a piece of equipment but do not recognize how much money may be saved down the line. Do a full benefit-cost analysis which will show how much money can be saved by employing the technology. For the legal profession, time is money and any legal technology which is more efficient will help attorneys spend less time on the “admin work” and more time on the billable work.
Show How Easy It Is and Create an In-house Support System
Many people fear new technology because they think it will be too complicated and difficult to learn. In reality, this is often not the case because developers have made a user friendly and intuitive interface (thank you, Apple!) a priority. If you’re going to really sell the partners on the idea of incorporating newer technology into your firm, you’re going to have to show them just how easy it is to use. Be sure to give a basic presentation, showcasing only the essentials (if they think it does too much, it can be a strike against it) and the tangible benefits. Also, take it a step further and set up an internal support team. Have a buddy system where one of the tech-savvy members of the firm will pair with a partner. If they need help, they can just call on their tech-buddy instead of waiting on hold with support.
And if all else fails, identify successful firms who use the software or hardware solution. Competition is often enough to propel senior partners to adopt new technology.