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Essential Tech for Paperless, Virtual, and Remote Solo & Small Law Firms

The right tech can provide critical flexibility for lawyers, whether you are just getting started or want to optimize your operations.

 

For nearly a year, most of us have been working remotely because of Covid-19, and many of us want the flexibility that virtual and paperless law practice offers apart from pandemic. listing of essential tech from the NCBA Center for Practice Management provides options and insight for paperless, virtual, and remote legal work, which we’ve used to update our own Law Practice Startup Guide Tech Section, as summarized below.

 

Hardware

Laptop. We recommend a large hard-drive and at least 4GB of memory. Lenovo and Dell are reliable PC options, and you can find more on how to choose a laptop in this video, as well as Sharon Nelson and John Simek’s Computer Specs for 2021 and their comprehensive ABA publication, 2020 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Buying Guide.

Monitors. Using two monitors is a tremendous boon for productivity. (Again, Dell makes reliable options.)

Scanner / Multifunction Printer. A multifunction printer with scanning and copying (Epson and HP are typically reliable) might also have fax, but we recommend efaxing as a software need. Alternatively, consider smaller desktop scanners like the popular Fujitsu Scansnap iX1500 and separate small printer. And even with a scanner, scanning apps can be useful time-savers (free options include Adobe Scan and Scannable.)

Accessories. An external mouse & keyboard can help with proper ergonomics and more; Logitech has reliable options. External webcams can offer better quality (HD) and often include a built-in microphone. Still, a headset with a microphone can provide better audio quality all around. Finally, docking stations can save time and frustration.

Smartphone. Whether iPhone or Android, a smartphone is often everything you need right in your hand. (Find 10 apps every lawyer needs here.)

 

Software

Cloud Storage/Servers. To access them anywhere, you’ll need to use an SaaS model for your key software, or use remote servers like AWS or Microsoft Azure. (More on cloud storage.)

Backup Systems. You need strategies for redundant backup, which will involve physical drives and cloud services. (More on backup systems.)

Office Suite/Email. Top options are Microsoft 365 are Google Workspace. (Other options include Zoho.)

Case/Practice Management. This essential software helps organization and productivity; it might or might not include accounting functions like time & billing and trust accounting and other financial management. (More on law practice management software.)

Time & Billing. If your case management software doesn’t include it, you can find other products here designed to help.

Accounting / Financial Management. These products involve much more than billing, including expenses (and payroll), IOLTA, taxes. (More on financial management software.)

Document Management. Beyond organic file management strategies, small and mid-sized firms need software designed to capture information and organize files. Popular options include DocMoto, eQuorumiManageNetDocuments, and Worldox. (More on document management.)

PDF Manipulation. This essential software can allow you to edit PDFs, including changing content, running OCR, redacting; free options (like CutePDF) exist but you’ll probably need the features of a paid product.. Adobe Acrobat is the industry standard, and other good options are Kofax and FoxIt; another option for Mac users is PDFPen.

VoIP, eFax & Video Conferencing. An internet based phone system can be used through an app on your smartphone or computer, and offers features like voicemail transcription and auto attendant, and sometimes eFax (here are standalone efax options). Options include RingCentral, Ooma, Line2, and 8×8, and VoIPly. Top videoconferencing options Zoom and Teams also offer VoIP; Google Meet is another solid option for videoconferencing.

Legal Research Tools. Products include Fastcase, Google Scholar, and industry standards Lexis and Westlaw. Trial Court Libraries, Social Law Library, and MCLE New England are helpful resources for lawyers in Massachusetts. (More on legal research tools.)

Project Management & Collaboration. Most collaboration tools offer plug-in apps for project management or can be used interchangeably. Options include TeamsAsana, and Trello, . Other options you might want to explore include Wrike, Monday, Slack, and Miro.

 

Related Resources:

10 Top Technology Tools for the Small Firm Lawyer (Jim Calloway, 2020)

Law Practice Startup Guide (Mass LOMAP)

Legal Tech Posts (Mass LOMAP Blog)

 

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Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss concerns with a law practice advisor, licensed therapist, or both. Find more on scheduling here.