What Annoys Law Firms & How LegalTypist Avoids IT

One of the bonuses of attending ABATechShow was I got to pick up a few of  the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) publications, including the 2008 ILTA Technology Survey.  This survey consisted of responses from approximately 500 firms ranging in size from 1 – 500+ and confirmed a few of the biggest annoyances at any size law firm are:

  • e-mail management,
  • the high cost of software maintenance, and
  • user’s acceptance to change.

Now let me tackle each of the above in terms of my service based business which helps law firms of all sizes.

Law Firm Annoyance #1 – E-mail Management

In running my own business for over 8 years, I learned of the darker side of of e-mail – the security risks,  administrative headaches and time suck it becomes a long time ago.  Hence, the tech I use and recommend almost always works independent of e-mail. I understand, the last thing anyone needs is MORE e-mail!

In fact, I was so swamped with e-mail all the time that I searched for years for a system to help me handle it all.  When I couldn’t find a system that worked for me, I created one:  D-A-F-T Your Way To Organized! which was featured by Technolawyer as “Move Over David Allen, A Better Way To Get Things Done“.

However, since LegalTypist’s tech doesn’t require the use of e-mail, how do we get the files and documents securely back and forth with the 100’s of attorneys who use us for their every day work?  That’s easy!

LegalTypist’s tech includes small programs which are installed on end user PCs to automate the transfer processes; there is a network version for larger firms; or users simply log in to their web based accounts from anywhere and click a few buttons to securely up/download the files.  Viola! less e-mail, better security and the work just gets done.

Law Firm Annoyance # 2 – Costly Software Maintenance

Now that we’ve discussed how LegalTypist removes e-mail from the workflow process, how do we remove costly software? Again, that’s easy!

If you can dial a toll free number and remember a user ID, you can literally speak your needs and get your work done from any telephone.  LegalTypist’s web based tech negates the need for costly desktop resident or server based software.  Of course, if you have a dictator who prefers to use a portable recorder or software, they can – it’s just not necessary in order to use LegalTypist to get the work done.

Our tech is maintained on US soil by a company who has been providing court reporting and medical transcription services for generations.  In fact, all of LegalTypist’s tech, people and processes are resident on US soil.  I believe in outsourcing, but not offshoring!

Now that we’ve covered how LegalTypist avoids two of the most common law firm annoyances: e-mail and software maintenance costs, let’s get to the real core of the issue as I see it which is annoyance # 3: user’s acceptance to change.

Law Firm Annoyance #3 – User’s Acceptance of Change

The above heading should say user’s resistance to change!  I know, I wrote about that one a long time ago in my article:  The Top Three Reasons Law Firms Aren’t Using Digital Dictation

In fact, it came in at…

Number 1: “We don’t like change.”

I am not kidding! I have heard this exact phrase more times than I care to admit!

Other than, of course, this response helping me to realize that firms can take forever to reach a decision, it presents quite a conundrum. Why? When upgrading to digital, not much actually changes in the process for the dictator. In fact, Olympus and other major manufacturers even have portable digital recorders in their professional line that have a slide switch. Truly, a digital recorder which mimics an analog recorder’s functions.

Therefore, when properly configured, other than the fact that an attorney does not have to get up from his chair to hand a tape to his secretary (or leave on her chair), when upgrading to digital, dictators do not “do” anything different.

Although I no longer recommend Olympus products*, everything stated above remains the same – even 4-5 years later!

When done correctly, there is no change when it comes to upgrading from tape based dictation to digital.  In fact, how each end user prefers to get their work done can easily be accommodated – standardizing the process, but with enough flexibility to make it an easy adoption no matter how someone prefers to process their work.

In fact, I’m fond of saying that LegalTypist was built to be platform independent – we don’t care what you use on your end (portable recorder, telephone, dictation software, your own personal mobile device’s recording functions) – the only two questions I need answered is:

Word or WordPerfect? and

Do you need contact, calendar and fax management?

Of course, I ask a lot more questions, but the above two are the only I must have the answer to in order to set up a new client/firm.

That’s because, as advanced as the tech used by LegalTypist is (it holds 2 patents), it is not the reason why LegalTypist is the best option for any size firm when upgrading to a digital workflow. The tech is only half of the process.  It’s the people that make all the difference.  LegalTypist is not just a tech solution – it is an entire business process solution – tech + peeps.

As I have often said, you cannot take the live, thinking brain out of the  process and end up with the same caliber of work product.  Anyone who has spoken their wishes to their own experienced legal assistant/secretary knows what I am talking about.

In the end, I believe I owe the on-going success of LegalTypist to the fact that I set up my processes to be as independent of software, hardware and tech as possible.  The fact that doing so also removed much of  what the ILTA survey says annoys law firms… well, that’s a bonus!


*Olympus recently developed a proprietary file type (.ds2) – meaning you have to purchase Olympus transcription software in order to listen/manipulate to the file.  Who needs to spend MORE money?!?