Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Early Adopters--What is the Next Big Thing for Law Practice Management?

History Buffs:

When my sons were young, I hated the idea of spending weekends working away from home. At some point in about 1990 I borrowed the firm's portable computer to bring home for the weekend. I think it was the Compaq pictured above, but I'm not sure. In any event the weight seems about right--this one apparently weighed 14 pounds or so. With the carrying case I remember it weighing about a thousand pounds. I don't remember how I got it home. There were no wheeled cases, I am sure it was just a hardcase with a handle. I had to lug it home on public transit and remember that it was up hill both ways (in the snow) to and from the train to my car. I guess I was stronger then.

Today, I carry a laptop that weighs less than 3 pounds. It is on my lap right now. I carry it around the house and around the world. I have a Verizon card so that if I am out of range of a wireless network, as long as I can get cell phone reception I can access my firm's entire database of client files, and everything on the internet. Of course I also carry a blackberry, but not a separate phone. So I do feel connected 24/7.

I don't think that further reductions in the size and weight of my computer will bring about any big changes in the way I practice over the next five years, though. The current "big thing" that is changing the way I build my practice and interact with my peers and colleagues lives right here on my lap--the professional networking sites, web-based learning and document drafting, substantive and conversational blogs, VOIP and video conferencing over the internet. These tools may even change the way we research and stay current on the law. With the explosion of webinars, will people attend live MCLE in the future? What do these changes mean for the way we manage our practices and our networks? I think many people have already been thinking about these tools and adapting their services to take advantage of them, and avoid being left behind. Law firms and lawyers tend to be behind the curve on change, since we're all busy just getting through the day answering the phone calls and emails that arrive every 30 seconds or so.
But in my spare time, usually late in the evening, I try to attend to the evolution of information technology. The changes I see drive me to develop my LinkedIn page, pay attention to how colleagues, clients and potential clients find me, and look for new ways to find and interpret useful resources among all of the useless fluff that is out there.
If you have a professional networking site you like, share it with the group. I use linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/. See http://www.microstar.net/museum/cpqslt286.html for more info about the antique computer above, and link from there to some interesting computer history.
See you in cyberspace,

Next up: Politics in the Workplace, or, What I Wish Someone Had Told Me.

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