Beyond the Basics
The technologies discussed on this page are proven solutions for
the modern law practice, and should be considered essential for a properly run
law department. However, implementation of some of them does require a commitment to a higher
level of initial investment of time and resources. There are a lot of smaller
legal departments that are not yet at this level. If you are in that situation,
you need to start moving in this direction. I can almost guarantee that if you
make the investment, there will be a long-term payback from these types of
systems. If you don't, you are not giving your employer/clients the service they
should be getting.
- Once you get one, you'll never want to be without it. Wireless email
devices and new versions of mobile phones (see below) might be an alternative.
Mobile phones - Unless you are always in the
office, you need to be available to your clients. (You can always turn it
off.) One new phone contains a full-featured PDA running the PalmŪ
Operating System. See PDA News.
Wireless email/paging - Traditional pagers are
becoming obsolete. People who need to stay in touch swear by the mobile
email devices from Research
in Motion (RIM), including the popular RIM and Blackberry mobile
email devices. The BlackberryTM service is
a specific application that integrates with your corporate Outlook system. The
same RIM devices are available from various service providers (not under the
Blackberry brand), but are not integrated with your corporate system. The
RIM devices feature many of the same organizing features as regular PDAs,
and may be able to substitute for a full-featured PDA for some people. (Note
that wireless email works primarily in metropolitan areas and may not
function in many rural areas.)
What we really need is one device that
functions as a PDA, a wireless email device, and a wireless phone, and that
integrates (email, calendar, voice mail, faxes) with your office systems.
New phones that integrate PDA and wireless email functions are now becoming
but we're only part way to full integration today.
management system - I think even single-lawyer departments can benefit
from a good practice management system.
These systems don't have to be expensive - some of the inexpensive systems
do a great job. But you have to be committed to using them. They should
integrate with the other systems you use in your office (email and calendar,
at a minimum).
Management - You need to be able to find your files (both paper and
electronic). Some kind of document management system is critical. Some
practice management systems incorporate at least some document management
features, but a dedicated document management system that is integrated with
the other systems in your office is best. Again, these systems do not
have to be expensive.
Assembly - Depending on the type of practice your department has, a
dedicated document assembly program may or may not be essential. However,
nearly any department can benefit from basic automation of such tasks as the
generation of correspondence. Most practice
management systems incorporate at least basic document assembly
Presentation Software - Using programs like Microsoft
PowerPoint for corporate presentations is almost essential these days.
Learn to use them! Your department will be seen as a part of the business
team and will be able to present information more effectively if you use the
same presentation tools the business people do. Have a VisorTM
handheld? You can now do PowerPoint presentations without your laptop with
the Presenter-to-Go Springboard Module. Additional
Last updated: 05/17/01