In early 2020, lawyers around the world were forced to transition to virtual settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Law offices were no exception with many forced to close their doors and work remotely in order to accomplish goals. This meant that legal offices needed to install the tech tools necessary to do the daily tasks required by their practice. These five tools are critical to the success of any law office.
Top Tech Tools for Lawyers in 2021
Document Management Software
One of the most important tech tools necessary for a successful virtual law office is document management software, such as MyLitBag. MyLitBag is an IOS-based iPad digital binder app that allows users to replace and share their physical binders of Legal documents with secure, password-protected virtual litigation binders of PDF documents and files. A typical legal binder can hold up to 600 pages and cost hundreds to compile, print and ship for review. The average litigation bag holds between 4 and 10 binders. The MyLitBag app holds thousands of password-protected legal document binders. This app also enables secure distribution in minutes with just two fingers. Even when offices no longer require virtual settings, document management software can reduce costs by sharing binder information electronically among staff members and other law firms. Download MyLitBag from the app store and try it free for 7 days.
Video Conferencing and VoiP Phone Systems
Even through a pandemic, lawyers need a way to meet with clients, other attorneys, court officials, and more. Conferences are a critical part of any legal case. Unfortunately, these conferences are often tied to the firms’ in-house phone systems. Voice Over Internet Phone systems (VoiP) allow you to route calls over the internet which frees you from the office. In most cases, calls are unlimited, and many plans even include international calling. There are online video conferencing options as well that are less costly than a VoiP system. Zoom and Google Meet grew increasingly popular from the start of the 2020 pandemic. Keep in mind that you might need to set up strict security protocols with video conferencing programs in order to protect client confidentiality. Lawyers should choose a program that uses transport or end-to-end encryption. These help to prevent different levels of eavesdropping.
Online Fax Services and Scanning Tech Tools
Over the years, attorneys have often been tied to hard-wired machinery such as fax machines. While most industries have switched to email to send and receive documents, the legal profession still uses this technology. Faxing is especially common between government offices, insurance companies, and other law firms. Online faxing software has been available for many years. When an attorney is unable to visit the office, online faxing tools are another option to send and receive information. These programs allow for faxes to be sent and received via email or through a portal. When using these programs, it is important that attorneys understand how confidentiality can be managed, where the data is stored, and who has access to the information.
In addition to online faxing capabilities, scanners are another of the critical tech tools a firm will need. There is no doubt that attorneys have been reluctant to go paperless, primarily because courts required paper filings until recently. The pandemic may have changed that as many courts are now using e-filing options. This means scanned documents may be even more prevalent in the future. Therefore, it is important that staff working virtually have high-quality scanning equipment available. Keep in mind that you may also need to invest in a mobile scanner if you travel often. There are scanners small enough to fit in a briefcase or laptop bag as well, although many smartphones offer scanning capabilities.
Online Word Processing
In the past, all word processing programs had to be purchased and downloaded to a computer. Today, it is possible to access online word processing programs that can be accessed from any location with internet service. This allows staff to create and save documents to a cloud-based file so that other staff members can review, edit and share the same file. Many programs have real-time collaboration options so an attorney working with another lawyer can edit and save documents simultaneously. This includes spreadsheets, desktop publishing, calendars, and more. When choosing to use these programs, attorneys have an ethical obligation to understand how their data will be stored, who will have access to the information and information on backing up the system. Some of the most widely-used online word processing programs include Microsoft Word 365 and Google Docs.
Most attorneys use the traditional method of dictation. This requires speaking into a tape recorder that must be then transcribed. This can be very difficult in a virtual office setting. Instead, a more beneficial technical tool is speech-to-text dictation. Using this type of program, lawyers simply speak, and the text appears on the screen. The only requirement is that the attorney hit the record button. This is an especially valuable tool for small law firms that are moving toward a paperless office. Programs like Dragon Speech Recognition, BigHand, or Winscribe are all well-known speech-to-text dictation options.
As many attorneys continue to work in a virtual atmosphere, the need for tech tools grows more important. These five are some of the bare necessities a law firm will need to continue working in a remote setting. Until it is safe for companies to gather in-office again, bringing your law firm up to date technology is the best way to continue business as usual.