The days of law practice being only local in nature are drawing to a close even if some matters do not extend beyond an attorney’s own city. In general, attorneys are finding that, even if their practice is not becoming more global, some aspects of it are. This means that attorneys have to be more nimble and better informed in their daily business. At the same time, it also means that attorneys are required to be more well-rounded in their practice even if their area of focus is the same as it always has been. It is difficult for an attorney to handle the change in law practice without some extra help. The fast-paced practice of global law can overwhelm even the most organized attorney. Steve Roberts from My Denver Injury Lawyer knows all too well the best tools for attorneys in this era of globalization.
While many talk about the globalization of law, it is a broad topic that people may not necessarily fully understand. It is important to grasp the subject in order to know what is necessary to be able to compete in this environment. Even if your clients themselves are not operating in a global environment, there are derivative effects as to how your practice can change.
The two major impacts of globalization are changing rules, competition and types of engagements. It used to be that lawyers did not have to compete as much on their own home turf. Now, the practice of law is more spread out both across the country and internationally. Various lawyers can expand their practice to either take cases where they previously did not or form an alliance with another local attorney in order to accept new cases. Globalization means that local clients have new means of finding attorneys than they had in the past and can easily connect with a lawyer well outside of your jurisdiction to handle a matter in your jurisdiction. While attorneys need to be licensed in the physical area where they practice, they can always form partnerships with local counsel. In addition, the globalization of law will mean that is practiced 24 hours per day, and you can anticipate handling the matter regardless of the time of day.
At the same time, the law and how it is interpreted is slowly changing due to changing international norms and their importation into new areas. There is no longer strictly an American conception as to the proper way to comply with rules and laws as norms of international law are slowly finding their way into the United States. This requires attorneys to have a greater breadth of knowledge in order to stay ahead of the changes in the law.
Further, clients’ business is also becoming more international in nature. Many clients prefer to deal with a limited roster of attorneys in order to obtain legal services. While every lawyer cannot and should not be expected to give legal advice that is international in nature, they will at least be required to know where to send the client to get the help that they need. In addition, they will need to be able to spot issues and anticipate additional problems that may result as part of engagements that have a wider scope.
With that in mind, attorneys will need to have better tools underpinning their business so that they can keep up with faster-paced practice of law that requires them to account for many more things that they had to in the past. Attorneys will need to have their infrastructure houses in order to be more effective both as lawyers and as businesspeople. Here are some resources and tools that lawyers can use to be better practitioners both in terms of the quality of the advice they provide as well as more effectively positioned to compete in this global environment.
Case Management System
The days of lawyers keeping their files by hand are over. If they are not over, they should be because paper files will lead to both inefficiency as well as a higher chance of error. Too many deadlines are missed and too much time is wasted when lawyers spend their time dealing with paper. As a result, lawyers need an effective case management system to both track deadlines as well as serve as a central repository for all engagement related documents. In the legal profession, time is money, and the more time that can be spent providing services to clients, the higher your practice revenues will grow. Administrative matters are generally not billable, which means that time spent filing and dealing with physical files comes at the expense of billable activities. Even if you hire someone to handle some of this burden, it will still cost you money and time that could be freed up to help you elsewhere.
Further, in a global environment, documents will need to be shared quicker and further than they ever were before. Of course, nobody expects you to use regular mail to send documents in many cases. However, documents need to be centrally stored and filed in order to be quickly accessed to be shared. When you have the right case management software, it is easy not just to share documents, but to also receive them and quickly save and file them in the right place. Alternatively, you can use document sharing systems such as Slack in order to facilitate the transfer and exchange of documents.
Advances in technology have now made these software programs easier to use. Costs have also come down to make them more affordable even for smaller practices. The real cost comes from not having a case management system since you will be at a definite disadvantage to other attorneys competing for business.
Communications systems can be broken down into systems that help you have a dialogue with clients and systems that can help you communicate internally within the firm. Both are important so that you have a ready and quick way to quickly link with whoever you need. When it comes to client systems, make sure that you are easily able to save copies of emails in their client files so that you have the documentation handy when necessary. Still, sometimes, e-mail and telephone are not enough because clients will want to reach you as quickly as possible. Another important thing is to make sure that you have the infrastructure in place to encrypt communications with clients. Especially when you are communicating with people far and near over different systems, there is more of a risk that your communications could be hacked.
Internally, you will need to be able to communicate with fellow lawyers in your firm expeditiously in order to give clients the quickest and most effective answers. These systems should also have a way to catalogue these communications by individual clients so that they can be saved in a file if it is necessary to keep the discussion. Ideally, you should find a small number of solutions to bridge many different types of communications that you would have both inside and outside of your firm.
Virtual Meeting Tools
The increasing globalization of law means that you will have to communicate with people who may be very far away from you. There is something lost when the conversation is entirely over the telephone. While you can speak to someone while sharing documents over a computer, there is something lost in the communication if there is no face-to-face element of it. Virtual meeting tools allow you to almost completely replicate every element of a meeting save for the ability to physically shake someone’s hand. This will allow you to save time and money that is spent on business travel. Further, you will also be able to expand your footprint to help you work with clients in different areas. It is not uncommon when using these tools to hold a meeting that includes participants from several different countries. Even if you do not conduct business internationally, this technology will help you set up meetings more quickly when clients need answers much more quickly than in the past. Technology such as Join.Me allows you to set us meetings instantly no matter where you are.
When the practice of law is global, it is even more important to get the most possible use out of your mobile device so you can utilize it no matter where you are. Your practice is not necessarily confined to when you are in the office and you will need to be able to give effective counsel at all hours of the day. Some of the more important apps allow you to keep time so that you can track the work that you do for clients when you are not physically in the office or in front of a computer screen. There are also mobile apps that allow you to scan documents using your mobile phone and to electronically sign documents using your device. Your mobile device can also be an asset in this age of globalization so you can use it to take notes no matter the time of day.