I spent ten hours in a deposition on yesterday in the office of a large law firm in
My fellow columnist
IT Departments and Policies about Policies
IT department policies prevent you from working efficiently. We had a case one time about a teen driver who accidentally killed her best friend in an automobile accident, and the driver's position in the litigation is that she did not engage in a certain reckless behavior while driving. So, I went onto the driver's MySpace account and saw a journal entry about how she was so sorry for killing her best friend and how she should have known that engaging in this reckless behavior while driving was going to hurt someone. So, the next day, I tell the partner in the case. He wants to see himself, so I open up MySpace.com. It's blocked by the
I was talking to another lawyer friend who works in a large law firm. Their IT policy is no thumb drives can be used on office computers because of the risk of viruses.
As a solo now, I am my own IT department. If I want the IT manager's permission to open a website, I just open it. I can use thumb drives at my office. I can use Dropbox occasionally for transferring non-confidential information if I want. I don't have to be transferred to three different people and be on hold for 15 minutes just to have someone tell me that rebooting will fix everything.
Upgrading Hardware and Software
Upgrading hardware and software is clumsy and difficult in large firms. Hardware and software are usually purchased with bulk contracts. Software, of course, has to be installed by the
If I want to upgrade latest version of Adobe Reader, I download it. If I want to buy a new Surface Pro 3 for my office, I just buy it. I don't need to worry about upgrading to Windows 8.1 and having it not be compatible with some of the printers on the 23rd and 25th floors.
Freedom to Maneuver
As a solo, I am able to maneuver a lot faster through some things than large law firms because I don't have to go through as many channels. Now, I'm not saying that litigation is like the card game war, where my i7 computer beats their i3, and therefore, I win my case, but operating at peak efficiency with the latest hardware and software has definitely given me an edge. Large law firms definitely can overpower small law firms with strength in numbers, but knowing how to take advantage of technology tips and tricks can help even the playing field.
I was recently in a trial with about 28,000 pages of records over hundreds of PDFs. We had two people on our trial team. The large law firm had four attorneys on the case and who knows how many paralegals and legal secretaries who were reviewing the records to find things on the fly during trial. They did a pretty good job. Not as good as we did, though, because we knew how to use the advanced search tools in Adobe Acrobat to create an embedded index of multiple OCR'ed PDFs to do text searches of hundreds of documents spanning tens of thousands of pages and get our results back in seconds.
So, having better technology doesn't mean you are on equal playing field as a large law firm, but it sure does bridge that gap sometimes.
Earlier: Today's Tech: How A New York City Boutique Firm Competes With Biglaw
Ed. note: This column has been brought to you by our friends at MyCase, web-based practice management software for lawyers. Click here to learn more about MyCase and their happy customers.
Please note that the views expressed in the column are those of the writer alone.
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