Law Firm Technology: Must-Read Resources at the San Francisco Law Library

Andrea Woods

The San Francisco Law Library maintains a comprehensive Law Practice Management Collection, with publications that detail all aspects of opening a practice—hanging your shingle, billing, marketing, finances, risk management, technology, and more.

This post introduces the Law Library’s LPM resources that help lawyers make the best use of technology. Stay tuned for future installments that highlight the Law Library’s materials on additional LPM topics.

The 2016 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple, by Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek, and Michael C. Maschke.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2016.

 

book-1This annual publication is an indispensable companion for any solo practitioner or small firm lawyer, as it simplifies the agonizing process of selecting the appropriate technology for your law practice. Written in plain, concise language, this guide is oriented toward the relatively non-savvy technology user with the goal of selecting the best available technology for the price. Whether you need to research hardware, litigation programs, smartphones, mobile security, billing software, document management programs, or another aspect of legal technology, the Legal Technology Guide has a decisive recommendation from experts who have culled through the seemingly endless options.

Cloud Computing for Lawyers, by Nicole Black.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2012.

book-2Law firms have much to gain from the efficiencies that cloud computing offers, especially in terms of cost savings and productivity. Lawyer and technology aficionado Nicole Black presents a detailed discussion of the benefits of cloud computing, including anecdotal testimony from lawyers on how it has improved their practice and leveled the playing field between small firms and Big Law. She examines ethical concerns and honestly assesses potential risks, including security, privacy, and potential data loss. Complete with a list of questions to ask cloud-computing providers, checklists for the implementation process, and descriptions of cloud-based applications and legal practice management systems, this book has everything you need to move your practice to the cloud.

Internet branding for lawyers : building the client-centered website, by Jeff Lantz.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2012.

book-3A potential client’s first impression of a law firm is often the firm’s website, and it is likely the determining factor in whether a potential client will contact the firm for representation. This guide explains how to distinguish your firm by cultivating a unique brand, and then how to communicate that brand via your online presence. Rather than a mere list of the attorneys’ accomplishments and speaking engagements, a law firm’s website must convey how the firm will serve its clients. This book is exceptional for its nitty-gritty web-design details, such as what colors to use and best practices for layout and formatting.

 

Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers, by Sharon D. Nelson, David G. Ries, and John W. Simek.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2012.

book-4According to the ABA’s 2015 Legal Technology Survey Report, 15 percent of law firms of all sizes have experienced a security breach. Yet many firms continue to ignore that they are prime targets for hackers, despite multiple warnings from the FBI that they are exactly that. Locked Down tackles every aspect of a lawyer’s information security obligations, from backup solutions and data encryption, to disposal of confidential information and protecting yourself with cyberinsurance. With an understanding of how overwhelming and alarming this topic can be, this guide offers plenty of “war stories” to demand your attention, but then presents clear solutions on how to avoid them with a comprehensive information security plan.

The recently-published second edition of Locked Down was included in the Law Library’s September Book Drive Wish List. We would welcome your contribution!

Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, by Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2010.

book-5Many lawyers hesitate to adopt a presence on social media for their professional life, even if they’re pros at sharing photos of pretty sunsets or what they’re having for brunch. But to disregard social media for professional uses leaves promising marketing and networking opportunities untapped. After dispelling common myths about social media, this book proceeds with straight-forward, how-to advice for both novice and experienced social media users. Organized as a series of goals—networking, locating information to support your practice, gaining competitive intelligence, showcasing your expertise, branding, and increasing search engine optimization—this book presents best practices for using social media to your advantage, all while complying with ethics rules and avoiding other mishaps.

Virtual Law Practice: How to Deliver Legal Services Online, by Stephanie L. Kimbro.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section, 2010.

book-6As consumers increasingly look to the internet to conduct their affairs and the demand for affordable legal services rises, virtual law practice is changing the nature of how lawyers and clients interact. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, virtual law practice is certainly not the purchase of a form contract with no review by a lawyer. Instead, delivering legal services via a secure online portal offers many benefits to both lawyers and their clients, and it requires a sophisticated understanding of technology, ethics rules, and other business considerations. This comprehensive guide covers how to structure your virtual practice, unbundling, practicing in multiple jurisdictions, choosing technology, billing, customer service, ethical implications, and much more. It includes case studies from successful virtual practitioners that will help you gain a competitive advantage during this fundamental transformation of the legal marketplace.

The second edition of Virtual Law Practice will be included in the Law Library’s upcoming November Book Drive Wish List. We would welcome your contribution!

WordPress in One Hour for Lawyers: How to Create a Website for Your Law Firm, by Jennifer Ellis.  American Bar Association, Law Practice Division, 2014.

book-7It may be tempting to avoid creating a website for your firm by brushing off its importance, or by citing the perceived expense and difficulty of the process. But consumers expect a law firm to have a website, and there is a certain stigma in not having one that ultimately results in a competitive disadvantage. Luckily, even a non-tech savvy lawyer could follow the thorough and clear instructions in this guide. Author Jennifer Ellis presents WordPress with simple lessons and plenty of screen shots as she covers basics like uploading images and content, as well as creating a distinctive look for your website and tackling search engine optimization.

About the author:

Andrea Woods is a Reference Librarian at the San Francisco Law Library.