6-Step Plan to Kick-Start Your Law Firm Technology

“I’m not using Apple Pay,” she explained and went on to tell me that she hoped she could skate by without having to figure out something new. She whips out her old-fashioned plastic credit card instead.

She’s 49.

She has closed up, shut down, and turned off her brain when it comes to technology. I’m guessing she’s closed off learning in other areas as well.

Her belief is that she can coast to the finish line without having to work too hard, think too much, or enter an uncomfortable zone between here and the end.

She’s done.

In a separate conversation with her, I heard notes of dissatisfaction. She’s not advancing in her career. She’s not making the money she’d like. She’s not able to do the things she’d like to do with her life.

To an outside observer, it’s clear that she’s being left behind, that others are passing her by, and that she has resigned herself to a fate that feels outside of her control. She’s 49, and she’s done. She’s tired of the race and stepped over to the sidelines. It sounds like game over to me. She has adjusted to her reality and feels powerless to change it.

My Apple Pay avoider friend doesn’t see the connection between her refusal to learn and her dissatisfaction with her life. She thinks that avoiding new things makes her life easier and that bypassing the struggle is somehow a key to happiness.

I think she’s wrong.

And if you’re hiding out from technology, I think you’re wrong too.

Why Technology Matters

Technology is central to our success. It’s critical in our business and personal life. Technology is oxygen. Even those who resist technology are using it day in and day out. We believe we’re resisting, but life requires some level of technological engagement. We can’t get from here to there or do this or that without employing a gadget, software, or some kind of device. Resistance is futile, and it’s only in our minds that we resist. Even my Apple Pay objector has an iPhone in her hand.

We live in a world filled with technology. Things change quickly. We live in a time when things are moving at a pace that exceeds any previous time in human history. Keeping up, staying engaged, and being interested are essential pieces of what makes life in our world work.

Technology is linked to our advancement. Technology is linked to our economic fortune. Technology is an important piece of what makes us achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

When we skip Apple Pay, we’re skipping out on our chance to grow. Apple Pay may not be critical to our existence, but it’s a glimpse into our attitude about growth and change. Learning about technology is an essential element of growing our professional lives. Given the role of technology in our businesses and our lives, we have no choice except to engage. Otherwise, we’re going to have to accept our dissatisfaction. When we close up, shut down, and turn off, we get the results we deserve. If you’re turned off, then expect dissatisfaction. It’s likely already happening.

Why You Need to Get Engaged With Technology

Learning is not something we can outsource.

I get this question from lawyers all the time: “Who can do this for me?”

We love the idea of outsourcing technology. We hand off huge portions of our business without understanding what we’re handing off. That’s as bad an idea for technology as it is for legal work.

Would you ask a lawyer to write your brief to the Supreme Court without understanding the issues? Would you outsource it without being able to review it and judge the quality of the work? Would you hand it over and hope for the best?

No. You would be engaged. You would have discussions, you would review drafts, you would assign more research, you would double-check citations, and you would ask others to check behind the original research. You would lose sleep over the drafting of the brief. You would understand each and every word of that document.

But many of us will dump all of our client data into a system we don’t understand and haven’t researched and then delegate control of it to people we barely know. We’ll hire consultants for thousands of dollars and then sit in a meeting with them staring blankly and not appreciating much of what’s being said. We check out, disconnect, and hope for the best. That’s a mistake.

We need to be engaged with technology. We need to get interested.

A little education goes a long way. It gets us started. It piques our curiosity. Sometimes we just need to prime the pump. Sometimes we need to push ourselves.

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I’m not an art guy. Art has never been my thing. But I needed to earn some credits during the summer of my freshman year of college to compensate for my shaky start. I found myself in an Art Appreciation 101 course at Miami Dade College in July 1980. I was shocked to find myself interested in the slides being shown on the screen. The instructor taught me just enough to inspire my curiosity. I got engaged.

If you’re ready to get your technology interest rekindled, you are going to need to inspire yourself. You need to engage and get yourself a bit of education. That kick-start may be sufficient to help you find the energy and motivation to start looking at options for your practice.

How to Start Adding Tech to Your Practice

I’m suggesting a six-step kick-start program that’ll get your engine revved up. You’ll learn enough to realize that you have what it takes to select, supervise, and manage technology projects in your firm. You’ll remind yourself that this stuff is valuable and important.

Do these six things and, before you know it, you’ll be adding new technology to your business. You’ll be inspired to implement a practice management system, document management platform, document assembly technology, and artificial intelligence products and to explore holding meetings via virtual reality.

Here’s my kick-start prescription:

  1. Pay with Apple Pay. Set up your credit card and find a vendor that accepts Apple Pay or Android Pay. McDonald’s accepts it, and I suspect there’s one near you. Order a shake, hold your phone near the reader, and put your finger on the right spot. It’s magic. Relax and enjoy your ice cold drink.
  2. Message me on Line. Line is a Japanese messaging app you probably haven’t used. More than 600 million users are active on the platform. Try it. Sign up, add me to your list of contacts, and send me a silly emoji. I’m found on Line at lee.rosen.
  3. Ride Uber. Install Uber on your phone and go for a ride. Welcome to the sharing economy. Use promo code “uberleerosen” and you’ll get your first ride free.
  4. Buy Etherium. Visit Coinbase (use my link for $10 free Bitcoin), set up an account, and buy yourself some Bitcoin or Etherium (virtual currencies). The blockchain is all the rage, and it’s the mechanism employed for accounting for and trading these currencies. Jump in, screw around, and absorb some information by osmosis. Putting a few bucks on the line will get your brain engaged.
  5. Use two-factor authentication. When you open your Coinbase account, you’ll want to set up two-factor authentication to protect the security of your account. I like to use Authy as a centralized app for generating codes for a bunch of products I use. Go ahead and set up two-factor authentication for other applications you use like Facebook, Gmail, Microsoft 365, Slack, WordPress, Salesforce, etc.
  6. Plan a trip on Pana. Pana is a travel agent powered by a mix of artificial intelligence and humans. I just used it to book my travel to Koh Tao, Thailand. You’ll feel as if you’re dealing entirely with a person when, in fact, you’re often talking to a bot. Another artificial intelligence product used to schedule meetings is X.ai. It’s like having an assistant schedule meetings for you.

These six steps will show you that you can do it. You’ll learn a bit along the way, and you’ll see more of what’s possible. You’ll discover that none of this is overly complex or challenging, and you’ll find that you’re more capable of bringing technology into your life than you might have thought.

I hope these six steps will inspire you like my art class inspired me. I’m still not dying to visit every art museum in every city I visit, but I enjoy it more than I did before I took the class. I have a greater appreciation of what art is about, why the artists do what they do, and how art fits into and enhances our experience.

Because of that art class more than 30 years ago, I decorate our offices with original art. Because of that art class, I can have a semi-intelligent conversation about art history timelines. Because of that class, I know far more of what I don’t know and how to go about knowing it when the need arises.

Use my six-step kick-start plan to re-engage. Use the steps to get yourself moving. Discover that you’re not stuck. Recognize that you don’t need to give up, check out, and let others pass you by. Get inspired, get curious, and start devoting some energy to the technology critical to your success.

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