Because Generation J.D. is the “Young Lawyers” blog for The Daily Record, I’m going to assume that most of you reading this are around my age and are, therefore, members of the generation who grew up alongside the public Internet.
We used keywords to search America Online. We had to type “http://” before every URL. And we gladly switched browsers when Internet Explorer was just resting on its laurels.
We are the “digerati”–a term that used to refer to those who were influential or famous in the digital sphere but now includes all of us who are highly skilled at understanding and manipulating technology and digital information.
Combine that with the fact that the legal profession has been notoriously tech-averse, and we can be nigh indispensable when it comes to helping our colleagues or firms progress into the 21st century. And I don’t just mean helping to fix a blue screen of death or figuring out why the office wi-fi isn’t working. The knowledge of technology that we wield can lead to, among other things, markedly faster research times, greatly reduced overhead expenses and significantly more courtroom victories.
With an app for everything nowadays, it should not surprise you that most of the key players in the legal research market have a significant digital presence. This is where a tech-literate young lawyer can really demonstrate his or her worth. You can really surprise the higher-ups at your law firm when you finish a research assignment long before the people who had to use the firm’s law library. A few years ago, a colleague was amazed when I brought my iPad into his office to show him that I had found several pertinent cases, that I could highlight their most important parts and that I could print them all with just a tap of my finger.
In addition, several tech companies are now attempting to lay claim to the burgeoning field of digital law practice management. While generic billing software has been around for a while, new programs have been able to digitize everything from client intake to case file management to past-due account collections. If you’re interested in law practice management, you would do well to familiarize yourself with these pieces of software so that you can recommend the best option for your particular law firm and maybe even assist in managing the whole place yourself.
Finally, knowing your tech can also help you contribute to greater success for your law firm in the courtroom. Some businesses have already made millions by convincing large law firms that they need outside help to create snazzy, high-tech presentation to try to sway the jury to decide in your favor. How grateful do you think the partners will be when they find out that a tech-savvy new hire or junior partner can do most of the same things in-house? Being able to assist with any such presentations can often mean the difference between a partner vaguely recognizing you in the elevator and a partner actively seeking your help with a major case.
These are just a few instances where people like us can use our knowledge of technology to become invaluable to our colleagues and bosses. Fortunately, with technology progressing as quickly as it is and with the legal industry desperately trying to keep pace, I think there will always be a place on a law firm’s staff for tech-literate lawyers who understand the difference between a teraflop and a gigabyte.