The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Today someone tweeted Law Practice Today’s July 2009 article “Lemons, Lemonade and Lean Legal Technology – A Shoestring Approach to Legal Technology for the Suddenly Solo Lawyer” by information technology lawyer Dennis Kennedy. Not only is his advice applicable to attorneys finding themselves “suddenly solo” but also to paralegals starting up their own virtual businesses on a tight budget. The article recommendations include some of the start-up technology recommended by virtual lawyer Stephanie Kimbro and virtual paralegal Denise Annunciata in The Paralegal Voice’s most recent podcast about virtual paralegals.
In particular, the “bare minimum” list is very helpful:
Here’s the list:
- A base computer (I’d recommend a notebook, but you could get by with a desktop PC if you don’t do work outside the office). I’m fairly agnostic about the computer choices these days – if you really want a Mac, go for it, but think about what practice-specific software you might need to run. More than likely, what you already own will work at the start.
- A smartphone (typically, a BlackBerry or iPhone). Handle calls, get email and get Internet access from outside your office. Get an unlimited data plan. You might already have one or be eligible for an upgrade.
- One or more external USB hard drives for backup and an online backup service, such as Mozy.com, to back that up.
- A multi-function (scanner/copier/fax/printer) printer. It depends on what your needs are, but probably based on a laser printer unless you have a need for color.
- An office software suite. Typically, this will be Microsoft Office, but you might prefer something else. Make sure it works well with your clients’ documents if you choose something other than Microsoft Word.
- A PDF creation tool. There are free PDF creation programs, but I like Adobe Acrobat Professional for any lawyer because of all the extra things it can do for you.
- Something to handle finances, billing, timekeeping and the like. The choice depends on your needs. You might need a legal accounting program, a standard small business program like QuickBooks, or you might have the type of practice where you could run things off a spreadsheet for a period of time.
- A website or blog. You have to be locatable on the Internet.
Kennedy’s steps for evaluating your current inventory, and making a plan for evaluating and adding low cost technology are a must-read for anyone thinking about starting a legal business.
For those readers already working independently, do you have additional recommendations for the basics list?
Additional Legal Technology Resources by Dennis Kennedy: DennisKennedy.com; The Kennedy-Mighell Report – Legal Talk Network podcast