"The more comfortable you are, the better you will be." This can be true for many things, but in this case, I'm quoting a recent National Jurist article focusing on legal technology. I am hard-pressed to think of a better situation in which this phrase is more apt. We all have used Microsoft Word, opened a PDF, seen a PowerPoint, but how comfortable are you really using these common law firm and office programs?
Comfort with legal tech goes beyond 'basic' office tools. Many firms are adopting case managers, ediscovery platforms, and legal research databases that incorporate artificial intelligence, document automation and smart searching that all cut down on the amount of time lawyers and support staff need to use on manual data entry and document creation. The more you become comfortable now, the more likely you will succeed later. In fact, new legal tech reports suggest that tech-friendly and tech-competent lawyers and law firms are much more likely to be financially successful (not to mention successful for their clients in the courtroom).
Let's briefly dive into the National Jurist article linked above (it starts on page 20). What tech do they suggest you should be using now? Broken down into four categories, they are:
1. Cybersecurity and Time Management Tools
2. Document Production and Presenation Tools
3. Legal Research Platforms
4. Document and Team Collaboration Tools
Many of these types of tools are going to be at least passingly familiar to you (Duo Authentication? Microsoft Excel? Westlaw? Slack?). However, the key to taking your skills to the next level is to be more than adequate in their use. Learn the inside tricks to streamline your efficiency with these tools and understand the deeper level of their abilities. You will rock and stun your colleauges when you show them how to create a table of authorities in Word or search across entire folders of PDFs for a single word. These may seem like minor miracles, but the skills to learn about them are in plain sight and desparately needed by law firms.
If you know where you will be working, learn ahead of time which programs they rely on and dive in deep. If you are going to a Lexis firm, take advantage of the Law School's access to become a Lexis star. If your company is going to use Clio or another case manager, investigate academic access to these tools or even simply attending some webinars so you don't have to learn it all on your first day.
Many people are (probably correctly) leery of learning new tech or overly trusting it. But you would be surprised how far a bit more learning on tech will go if you can do more than the basics in any given tool. Your tech skills are a great way to showcase your knowledge in your new career early on and perhaps even impact your firm if you can suggest technology for adoption by serving on a technology committee or helping with trials, demos, and vendor demonstrations.
So - as you learn the law, learn the tech that will help you apply the law in efficient and cost-effective ways (or if it doesn't exist, build it yourself and become a tech entrepreneur)! You will find that you may just sleep easier as you untangle the mysteries of tech.
Submitted by Turner,Kristopher on October 13, 2022
This article appears in the categories: Law Library