Friday, August 23, 2013

Computer and KM Stuff Good Lawyers Should Know (First Draft)



D. Casey Flaherty's LegalTech West keynote “Raising the Bar on Technological Competence- the Outside Counsel Tech Audit," (described by Flaherty here) has certainly sparked a fair amount of debate on the topic of just how much computer technology chops attorneys need.  (You can also view the entire presentation here - registration required).

I don't have the time or energy to choose a side in the debate over whether outside counsel need pass Flaherty's audit.  However, I value the perspective of people who know more about law office technology than I do. One such individual is Niki Black, Director at MyCase.  Niki was kind enough to provide her take on lawyers and technology:

Because the American Bar Association recently amended Model Rule 1.1 to require that lawyers stay abreast of technological changes, lawyers need to be aware of the technologies available to them and have a basic understanding of the technologies that they use in their law practices. And, this amendment notwithstanding, it's important for lawyers to explore the possibilities offered by new technologies. Doing so will help lawyers improve their day-to-day lives by supplementing traditional methods and helping to streamline the practice of law. Innovating in the delivery of legal services by implementing new ways of serving clients--such as using cutting edge technologies like web-based law practice management systems to communicate and collaborate with your clients--is one of the best ways to compete in the 21st century legal marketplace and meet consumer demands.

And Flaherty makes several great points about the ways attorneys can get more effective and efficient use of their computers and the software programs they use in their day-to-day practices. Inspired by his examples, below is my work-in-progress version of a number of things that attorneys and folks who work in law offices should consider doing, learning, and keeping in mind as they manage information. 
  1. Recognize that almost any office task you do repeatedly can be improved by the use of computer technology.
  2. Share your knowledge with your colleagues.
  3. Presume (at least initially) that your “How do I do this?” question can be answered by you.  Not by IT, not by anyone else.
  4. When in doubt, right click.
  5. Before seeking (human) assistance, put your question/issue/problem in quotations and paste it into The Google.
  6. Identify and use the search and find functions in all programs and interfaces.
  7. Name and organize documents according to a plan.
  8. Learn how to sort and filter and do so when appropriate.
  9. Use folders and rules to manage emails.
  10. Identify (Tag) documents so you can find and use them again.
  11. Microsoft Word:
    • Use Styles for numbering any multilevel list.
    • Learn and use Templates, Automatic Tables of Contents, and Tables of Authority in briefs and other documents
    • Hyperlink and cross-reference in contracts.
    • Use QuickParts and AutoText
  12. PDFs
  • Create documents using a print driver
  • Make your documents searchable
  • Reduce File Size
  • Use Bookmarks
  • Bate Stamp Electronically
  • Extract Pages
  • Use Portfolios
  • Use Batch Operations/Perform Actions to Multiple Files
I welcome any and all feedback, suggestions, etc. on this effort, as it might be nice to hear from folks other than comment spammers.