In 2014, I was pretty fed up with life and I decided to do something different. Since my years practicing law had not prepared me to take any really big risks, I decided to take a small one. I rented a cottage on Cape Cod for the summer and set out to prove that I could work from anywhere.
It worked out well. I woke up early every day and did my work. At 3 pm I would quit for the day and go to the beach. Or for a bike ride. Or for a yoga lesson.
Those were the days before Zoom was ubiquitous, so I did not have any virtual meetings. But I did have a soft phone on my computer so that when the phone rang in my office in Ontario, it also rang on my computer screen in Massachusetts. I thought that was pretty cool.
I had a great summer for two reasons. First, I stayed out of the water when they posted the warning signs about the great white sharks. Also, I was fairly good at using the available technology.
It only makes business sense to gravitate towards things that improve efficiency. And yet I hear from the providers of legal tech that as a group, lawyers are not particularly quick to embrace technology. That is completely consistent with my personal experience over the years.
Back in the days of Dictaphones, I had a partner who wrote things out long-hand because he could not learn to use a tape recorder. When computers came around, another partner used his as a paperweight. One time, he gave an articling student a hard time because she had not gotten a memo to him on time. When she told him that she had emailed it to him days before, he was livid. He said that she should have known that he did not even turn on his computer most days.
And now that we all have access to videoconferencing, I know one lawyer who can click on a Zoom link but has no idea how to schedule a meeting himself.
So what is it about some lawyers that make them slow to adapt to new technology? I have absolutely no idea. But I do know that it costs them. Let me count the ways:
- It takes them longer to produce legal work. Clients don’t like that.
- If they are billing by the hour, spending more time costs more money. Clients don’t like that either.
- If they are billing fixed fees, spending more time costs the lawyer more money. That really sucks.
- It makes it more difficult to hire and retain staff who are concerned that their own skill level and marketability will suffer if they work in an office fit for a dinosaur.
- They lose credibility with clients, especially younger clients.
- They also lose credibility with other lawyers, but then again who cares about that?
The one thing that you can usually count on lawyers to care about is the bottom line, so it is surprising that they are often so slow to implement technology. It is unlikely to change until they hate seeing their income reduced more than they hate change. I expect that they will not have to wait much longer.
See the Legal Tech that Appara has to offer here: https://bit.ly/3S3o8QP