One of the best ways to save money in a small law practice is to
make intelligent purchasing choices respecting technology. If your
law firm can achieve a high-level of efficiency at a reasonable
cost, you'll end up operating at an advantage over your competitors
- many of whom will wait until the bitter end to revise or replace
antiquated hardware or software. Many small law firms take a
perverse pride in maintaining local software applications for a
decade or more, without ever having to pay for an upgrade - even as
their savvier competitors are updating their technology platforms
in a coherent and consistent manner, thereby saving staff time,
working faster and providing better client service.
Of course, neither is the other end of the scale particularly
appealing. Upgrading for the sake of upgrading can be a waste of
money. The idea is not to get the flashy upgrade solely because you
will not discipline yourself to make a more considered purchase. Do
you need to replace your smartphone just because a new version of
the iPhone was released? Or, do you want to wait for the bugs to
get worked out before you dive in on the new version? Do you
instead make the decision to upgrade at every other release? Or do
you want until the lease of your current phone is up before you
The middle ground is making reasoned decisions about updating
law firm technology.
Let's look at a specific example, in order to flesh this out:
Lawyers are still heavy laptop users. Even if they don't create an
official firm policy, many attorneys get the itch to replace their
existing laptops every two to four years. But that's often just a
random timeframe. Especially if the laptop often remains on a desk,
and is not frequently carted around, it may retain a longer life
span, via the application of a sneaky upgrade.
Instead of replacing your laptop, consider replacing your
standard hard drive with a solid state hard drive. Solid state hard
drives are lighter and stay cooler than traditional hard drives.
Solid state hard drives also use less energy than traditional hard
drives, which means that they can extend battery life. Solid state
hard drives are more durable than traditional hard drives because
they do not have a mechanical design featuring moving parts as
traditional hard drives do. That means that solid state hard drives
can access data more quickly, since spinning discs relied upon by
traditional hard drives are not part of solid state hard drives.
Solid state hard drives are more expensive than traditional hard
drives (sometimes by a factor of four or five), but they'll still
cost far less than a new, high-end laptop, and may double the
useful life of your existing laptop.
If your old laptop boots slowly, is unresponsive or scans
slowly, maybe it's time to give your traditional hard drive the
Jared D. Correia is the assistant director and
senior law practice advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office
Management Assistance Program. LOMAP offers free and confidential
law practice management consulting to Massachusetts attorneys.