It’s no secret that office administrators at law firms wear many different hats. One responsibility that often does not receive the attention it deserves (at least not until there’s an emergency) is managing technology effectively at one’s law office.
Below are eight technology tips for law office administrators, shared by an ex-office administrator who has since joined our team at GlobalMac IT. These tips came from a discussion centered around this question: “If you were speaking to a new office administrator, and giving them tips about technology, what are the things you knew when you left that you wished you had known when you started?”
1. Clarify asks for new technology
It’s common for someone at a firm to get excited about how the latest whiz-bang app or gadget is going fix everything. They’ll likely ask to get it moving forward ASAP, but these quick-fire solutions can lead to multiple issues: The technology may not be properly tested ahead of time, or features of the new tech may already exist within solutions the firm currently uses, which can cause confusion. A shiny new solution may seem great, but it may not be the best option for your firm.
I recommend having a set of questions for every idea that comes in to clarify what’s being asked for and ensure the solution chosen will be a good fit:
- Purpose: What do you want to accomplish?
- Importance: What’s the biggest difference this new solution will make?
- Ideal Outcome: What does the completed project look like?
- Success Criteria: What has to be true when this project is finished?
Taking the time to define these will go a long way in capturing what is expected and why.
2. Be intentional with trial periods
These days, trial periods for new technology are rarely leveraged properly. It is not uncommon for some law firm IT managers to skip the trial period for new software and jump right in, figuring things out along the way.
However, this approach often reduces the chances that new technology will succeed at your law firm.
If you’ve asked the right questions to clarify what’s being asked of a new tech solution, you’ve already determined what you are looking to get out of a new solution, i.e., your success criteria.
Before you even sign up for a trial, you need to create a list of success criteria so you can quickly and intentionally look for what you need. If you sign up for a trial and aimlessly poke around the software, you may see things you like, but you may also forget to check for some of the most important items needed.
Another tip when it comes to trials is to ask for extensions when necessary. As a law firm office administrator, your schedule can change quickly, and you may not have as much time for a software trial as you originally thought.
If you signed up for a 14 day trial only to have the next two weeks dedicated to another, more critical project, don’t hesitate to email the vendor you’re considering, explain your situation, and request an extension. While not all vendors will accommodate you, many will, especially with an explanation.
Tip: Some vendors offer personalized demonstrations, making it even easier to evaluate new tech solutions despite your busy schedule. For example, you can schedule a free demo of Clio, and get your questions answered quickly and efficiently.