Build Your Own Law Firm #3: Initial Tech Expenditures

When you start a new law firm, it will be difficult to avoid obsessing over your technology platform.  Everyone is going to be telling you that you need the right technology to be efficient, so you can make more money.  And, that’s true.  But, efficiency is in part based on volume.  Your practice five years from now will require more robust tools than your practice tomorrow will.  Whether or not you have a large technology budget at the outset of your launch, the aim should be to cover for requirements, not luxuries.

The question you should ask yourself is whether you’re busy enough to need whatever technology tool you’re considering.  To begin with, there are some obvious requirements: You’ll need a smartphone and computer of some kind.  But, honestly, starting up: that may be all you need.  So, consider whether you can get by with an Excel spreadsheet, rather than committing to a case management system or an accounting product right off the bat.  Do you need a scanner?  If you don’t have any clients yet, probably not: you’re better off spending that money on marketing your new law firm.  Similarly, is a timekeeping app necessary, if you don’t have any time to keep, or if you’re using flat fee billing?  Additionally, putting off big purchases until you feel compelled to make them will allow you more time to vet your options.  When will you need to make big purchases?  It’ll feel right.

Of course, there is another school of thought on this topic, which tends to be in agreement with the theory that you build the practice you want, when you have the time and freedom to do it, rather than waiting until you get too busy to manage that process effectively.  This version of events will cost you more, of course; but, psychologically, it may be the perfect fit for you.  Settling into your law firm technology platform earlier, rather than later, allows you to fix any bugs and process flaws, in advance of needing your technology array to ‘just work’.  Certainly, this approach is easier to justify when a law firm has an existing book of business, or earmarked technology expenditures right from the start.

Whichever way you choose, make sure that you vet each of the technology tools you use, and try to avoid redundant systems, which will escalate your overhead, without adding anything of value to your practice.

Every shiny object need not be picked up.

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