The Ideal Tech Team
I was 17 the first time I experienced the truth behind the adage, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." A dozen of us in total spent months training at the outdoor camp preparing to traverse 72 miles in a three-day hike on the Appalachian Trail. Our training was as diverse as our team — a blend of physicality, organization, and navigation. Each of the us had different talents, but it was teamwork we needed the most if we were going to succeed. Succeed we did. We overcame obstacles, communicated with one other flawlessly, and moved efficiently as a group. Even though the hike was 34 years ago, experiencing the whole as greater than the sum of its parts taught me valuable lessons about legal technology — lessons I use everyday in helping people use technology to practice law.
Meet the Technology Team
Instead of 12 young men preparing for a hike, let's look at 12 lawyers starting their own law firm. This team needs another team to succeed — a group of integrated software products. Let's get specific and build this law firm's technology team right now. With so many individually talented pieces of technology available today, it's important to look not just at the flash, but at the system as a whole as alluded to above. Building our utopian law office begins with a thin client suite of off-site servers running Microsoft Office 2013 and Exchange for email. All the talk right now is about the "cloud." Some slick applications exist with some cool functionality. However, today's cloud applications cannot come close to achieving the synergy you will achieve with a tightly integrated set of desktop applications working together. The thin based client approach enables our lawyers to operate on-the-move without losing any functionality. The remote desktop approach enables lawyers and staff to access their desktop from anywhere, and the desktop they use in the office is the same desktop they see at Starbucks, in the hotel room, at court, and at home. To round out the team, we add Tabs3 for integrated accounting software and back office management, PracticeMaster for calendaring and practice management, Worldox GX3 for document management with its new Enterprise Server platform for cloud-based document access, Symphony Suite to automatically OCR any PDF documents that get placed into Worldox, and Legal Anywhere to create portals (for clients and others involved in a matter) to access documents and data. Here's an example of how these team members work together. When an email message gets sent, it's automatically stored with the matter it pertains to in Worldox and billed to the client in Tabs3. As our lawyers view a matter in PracticeMaster, they can see all of the documents and detailed billing and trust account information. This is accomplished through synergistic teamwork operating on our thin client solution.
A Closer Look at the Players
We choose PracticeMaster because it tightly integrates with Outlook, Tabs3, and Worldox. It also has a powerful document assembly engine, a set of workflow development tools, matter-specific calendaring, and flexible contact management for marketing and client relationship management. Additionally, its "connect" module takes matters, calendars, contacts, and fee entry from the server to the cloud and back in milliseconds. PracticeMaster is a tool that can be used to build sophisticated infrastructures and is capable of managing any practice area. The system we're building relies on Outlook to create a link between email and Worldox (for storing email to matters), and between email and PracticeMaster (for billing the time spent dealing with email). Hosting Exchange offsite with the rest of the server suite makes Exchange easier to manage and allows this magic to happen with less reliance on IT staff. Tabs3 and its integrated accounting software makes the team because it has been around since I took my Appalachian Trail hike some 34 years ago. It is tested and robust — a complete suite of software working together seamlessly that does everything the firm requires on the billing and accounting fronts. Worldox joins our team of individual stars as the solution for document management. It has all of the functionality that a firm this size requires in a document management system. Additionally, we'll spend roughly 60% less on Worldox versus the cost to license, implement, and maintain any other document management system. With the new GX3 platform, Worldox offers technology that extends its desktop functionality beyond the network desktop to any computer with an Internet connection. To add some harmony to our team, we introduce Symphony to the mix. Symphony's job is to sit in the background and make sure every PDF document created is searchable. With this type of security in place, we dissolve the need for staff to sit and wait for the OCR process in Acrobat. Symphony also ensures that the PDF documents dropped into Worldox from other sources are likewise searchable. Legal Anywhere makes the team because it facilitates integration with our clients. Legal Anywhere enables our lawyers to set up matter-specific intranets and deal rooms in minutes. With this functionality, we can place specific documents from Worldox into the cloud for sharing and collaboration with outside counsel, clients, adjusters, and others who may need secure access to these documents.
That's Some Sum
Like our group who pulled together and pooled our strengths and resources to cover 72 miles on the Appalachian Trail in three days, these software packages together build a tight infrastructure that can make a small law firm run like a well-oiled machine. Each package stands on its own, and is well suited to its respective task, but it's the integration, the way they work to pass information back and forth, that makes this system shine. When it comes to legal technology infrastructure, the sum really is greater than the parts.
Originally appeared in: TechnoLawyer SmallLaw
Published on: September 23, 2013
Paul Purdue is what most people would call a nerd and formed Attorney Computer Systems in 1980 with one mission. To help attorneys “Worry Less and Practice More.” Today, Paul and his team do this by selling, implementing, and customizing the technology systems law firms use to run their practice and training the staff on this infrastructure. When Paul is not out saving the world from porous infrastructure, he is tinkering in the recording studio or spending time with his wife, Barb. He also likes playing backgammon on his phone, reading a good book, or otherwise enjoying his empty nest while occasionally inviting his adult children (Katie and Spencer) over to see how quickly they can get on his nerves.