Premier Practice Institute
1: What is this training course really about?
- How effectively are using technology to enhance your practice?
- Do you know all the ways the existing technology you use can assist you each day in your office?
- Are you as efficient as you need to be in your law practice operations?
- Are you prepared for a possible disaster with strong internal policies such as security and backing up?
- Can you really work from anywhere or are you tethered to your office location?
This training section is about challenging you to be intentional in your practice.
We want to discuss with you applications and integrations you may not know existed, while also getting you excited to discover your own. We encourage you to think about what you really need to operate at your best in your law firm, help you identify the tools that can make it happen and support you as you evolve to the next level of success.
Let’s start this training program and maximize your law practice operations efficiency!
2: What if I’m not comfortable with creating a completely paperless law practice?
We understand, not everyone is there yet.
We’ve designed this course knowing this may be a completely foreign concept to you. The training is designed to be relevant to all user levels and experiences. Should you be resistant to this idea, know we are going to talk about two specific concepts we believe will be of interest to you regardless of your comfort level: the paper/tech office and a usable fire safety policy. While the latter is self-explanatory, we are going to go in-depth talking about the former. The idea of a paper/tech office may be an ecosystem idea you are a little less familiar with in application. To better explain, when it comes to paper/tech, we are talking about paperless solutions that can enhance the productivity and efficiency of an office that is not paperless yet.
3: Who should watch this with me?
What we don’t want to see you do, however, is assign watching this to a team member while you pass on it. Your paperless (or not paperless) policy needs to have your guidance to be a success moving forward.
4: Let’s Get Training!
5: Highlights from the Practical Technology Webinar!
We have the highlights from the webinar right here! This section has our favorite parts, attendee’s favorite sections, and the take-aways we think you should have on-hand. Check out these excerpts from the transcript:
“…in the paperless office, the advantage really becomes that when done right everything is available at your fingertips. With that framework being said, your fingertips could be sitting with the rest of your body on a beach overlooking the ocean on a beautiful Monday afternoon. So the idea is – how do you take everything you’re doing in your office and be able to work from anywhere, even if you’re meeting with clients that day? You need to be able to put hands on everything, anytime, with no interruption. That’s the basic concept of paperless.
As you dive deeper into the paperless law office, though, and start to really develop this for your firm, you’re going to want to look at increased functionality. We are discussing automatic record keeping, workflow assignments and work product collaboration tools. Collaboration tools are incredibly powerful when it comes to improving efficiency and increasing productivity. A specific example (of the latter) is the Google product family. We’re talking Drive, Docs and Sheets. Working within Google itself, which has real time application, multi-user editing and communication features. (In other words) you could be working on something at the same time as a team member… actually communicating within the program…
… Communication within the actual document is a powerful way to increase productivity and you may want to consider on a product like Google or a cloud integration like Box or Dropbox (this can also be accomplished in Word for Mac and within Office 2016). You can also use a collaboration tool that operates like a real time news feed with multiple levels of integration like Evernote or Slack… For example, let’s say you’re drafting a client letter. Instead of editing the printed copy, having a face-to-face discussion on questions or writing an email, you could pick up your tablet or phone and literally write “change this” and an automatic notification would be written into the document and you could watch the changes be made… we are working to eliminate (the need for redundant communication)…
…Recruit them (your law practice team of employees) into working with you on this, not order them. Your goal is to move everybody forward and to get everyone growing in the same direction. When we’re talking about overcoming workflow issues and creating and building a better practice you need to ask your team – how do they see this moving forward? Yes, you can do it all yourself…but really that’s not going to be the plan that gets you to the next level of success…
… Your team may already have things that really concern them that they want you to be thinking about when it comes to a paperless office. You may not have to do any of the heavy lifting here. Your team may have already thought about this and how they can help you… Especially, if you’re looking at your ecosystem and you’re not sure where to start, ask one of your trusted career team members, the people who are there for the long haul – what do they see that you and your office could do to improve? …
…In our company, we always talk about the superfecta (of paperless business processes) as opposed to the trifecta. The four, the superfecta, are the policies for protecting your practice when you decide to go paperless…team training, backing up, insurance, and security policies. When you decide to go into this arena you need to have all four of those pieces of protection in your practice because we’re stepping out of the world of paper evidence and we’re going to a bit more complicated, a bit more sophisticated level, of our interaction. It’s not intuitive for everyone. But I will couch that statement with the fact that there are some team members that feel this (the paperless office) is much more intuitive than expecting them to use paper and pen…
… about the law firm policies you need in place to go paperless. You have to be very, very intentional in how you protect your office going forward (especially in the cyber security area). I know I mentioned earlier about insurance and, here, your cyber-insurance is so, so crucial for your firm at this point. Yes, you have malpractice, yes, you may have umbrella, yes, you may have business insurance, but you need to look at all of the policies and see what is their protection for you when it comes to cyber-terrorism and cyber threats… because all of your records are now stored electronically, what is your intention on how you’re going to protect them? What is going to make you be able to sleep at night knowing your firm is protected? …
…You have to have your backup policy. I know it’s redundant but you need the first-line backup, the first line’s backup, the third backup and the backup systems in your office. So often even I forget to ask – who’s in charge of the backup and the backup policy? So often we think that the backup policy is just going to operate, but who’s in charge of it? Who are the checks and balances?
… If you’re using a cloud server (for backing up) – have you read the terms and conditions? So often we don’t, because who wants to spend eight hours reading hundreds of pages of terms and conditions. I’ll say to you – read them anyway. You want to know the data release policy for your information. If you’re using a practice management software that’s backing up or storing your data in a cloud file or file server, under what terms will the company release your information when they’re charged with a subpoena? That’s incredibly important for you to think about as you’re looking at the storage of your files…
… You do need to have a fire prevention policy as well… we don’t want the office to burn down. We need to have a fire prevention policy in place… you want to make sure that all of the electrical cords in your office are good. Make sure your tech areas are dust free. Make sure your tech outlets aren’t overwhelmed by technology…
… A lot of you already have software that you’re using to run your practice. What I often find is law firms just aren’t using it to the degree it can be used because they’ve found the big-ticket items that made them purchase the software in the first place. With your initial goals met, you may not have explored all the amazing things it could do for you. I would challenge you to look at the top ten software efficiencies you need in your law firm. My number one thing is always the capability to integrate with other software…for lawyers, we’re looking at email or Fastcase or QuickBooks … earlier I mentioned the BCC on client files automatically emailed and recorded, accessible anywhere with minimum headache. To me, having to log in to your server for remote control is not being accessible anywhere. You want to think about minimum headache…
… Ask yourself when it comes to choosing your law practice strategy – are you going to be paperless or paper/tech? Then I really want you to look at the last year and ask – how are you going to do it compared to last year? How will it help you shift away from maybe some of the bottlenecks or pitfalls you’ve seen this year? What will make it better? Based on your analysis – what do you really want to accomplish? Make a list of all of it… I was with a firm who had thirty-four things they wanted to do based on their evaluation and that was overwhelming to them. We saw the thirty-four things and they said, “We can’t get any of this done.” But it was the best thing in reality. We broke it down to tackle six at a time and the remaining of the thirty-four are our wish list as they grow… Interestingly, I got an email from the lawyer this morning, and of the six we picked, he’s already finished three in less than a week.
Write out everything you want to manage to move over to a paperless or paper/tech system. Then think of those items in terms of thirty day projects… you’re going to think about six hours a month going forward, so go ahead and schedule six hours a month on your calendar right now for this. I know that seems like a lot when you first start hearing that but if you’re looking at a full work week, you have one hundred and sixty hours in a month, we just want to have six of them. In the first week, use two hours to find your solutions, apply it and further research it. Dedicate one hour in the second and third weeks to play around with it, making sure it’s working for you, and then two hours in the final week to make sure you can go forward or do you need to allot more time… This is our blueprint for success as you move toward a paperless or paper/tech law office….”
6: What do you need in your firm?
7: Want a little more? Check out our infographic on 6 Ideas for Going Paper/Tech in Your Practice?
8: Our top picks for the paperless law office
Going paperless can dramatically improve your law office’s efficiency, systemization and productivity. Implementing this step, however, requires the right tools for you and your practice goals. The tools you need to support your practice may be very different from other law firms.
Most of today’s supportive business technology is intuitively designed. This design distinction makes your selection more of a personal choice that you need to try out and experiment with rather than an industry mandated best choice for law firms. In this section, we share our topic picks for the paperless support across different platforms for you to try out in your practice. This is not an exclusive list by any means but a list of our favorite and our clients’ favorite tools.
We recommend you complete our What Do You Need in Your Firm section before you choose a software. This worksheet provides a foundation designed to assist you in identifying what you really need so you will know the multi-purposes to watch for and integrations you need in your firm.
Choosing your hardware is crucial in your practice. The hardware you select needs to be able to support your user preferences as well as having the capability to run the software (and security and backups) you want to use. This is often the first place that business owners of any type are derailed since they feel the cost of upgrades is prohibitive. While it may feel this way initially, with a targeted budget in place you can make it work. Consider these options:
All in one printer, scanner, fax machines
- HP Officejet Pro 8610
- Epson WorkForce WiFi Direct
- Samsung Wireless Monchrome
- iPhone 7 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
- Google Pixel
- Handheld scanner apps
While most of us still prefer having a scanner in our offices, nothing beats the ease of use of a scanner in your pocket. Consider these options:
- Google Drive
- Genius Scan
- Scannable by Evernote
- Electronic writing
Electronically recording your notes can streamline your efficiency and boost your productivity. Today, almost any device can be used as a writing pad. Consider these options:
- Notes Plus
- Antipaper Notes
- Task/project management and workflow
Following checklists can help you get things done. Knowing who is in charge of each task on the checklist can further boost your workflow productivity. When it comes to task management and workflow many law practice management softwares offer their own internal options and this is something you should review with your provider. If you’re ready to think outside the law firm arena, consider these options:
- Email solutions
When you really want efficiency, you will stop sending email in real time. Instead, you’ll program your responses and control your frequently sent message (this is again something your practice management software may be able to automate for you) but in the meantime consider:
- Customizable database of your stuff
There’s nothing better (in our opinion) than a customizable database that holds all of the stuff you want and need to know (and also who you want to keep in contact with). When it comes to building a customizable database, consider these options:
- Google Keep
- Apple Notes
- Dropbox Paper
9: Additional Resources that accompany this Practical Technology section
Whenever we have a training session, we find it gives rise to numerous other topics and resources that can significantly help you in your law practice. Here is our list of additional materials you may want to consider that accompany the Fireproof or Paperless? The Blueprint for Practice Success training section. These resources may have been mentioned during the training directly, plus a few we know can be of assistance based on questions from our clients.
Managing the Business – Is Software in Your Future? Strategies for CRM Success
Lions, Tigers and Bears, OH MY! Software is Not Created Equal
In this specific training section, we also include external resources you may want to check out to assist you in your paperless journey:
How to Start and Run a Paperless Office By: Nerino J. Petro, Jr. (ABA Resource)
The Myth of the Paperless Office By: Abigail J. Sellen & Richard Harper / MIT Press (Amazon)
Paperless – A MacSparky Field Guide By: David Spark (iTunes)
Going Paperless from the ABA (ABA Resource)
FYI: Records Management / Document Retention (ABA Resource)
Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S. (ABA Resource)