ABA Techshow

Tech planning is the key to success

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Bongiovi and Miller-Van Oort

Lawyers Gina Bongiovi and Sonia Miller-Van Oort. Photo by Monica Burciaga.

The best way to utilize technology is to create a detailed plan that forces a lawyer or law firm to be introspective and honest about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their expectations for how technology can improve their practices. Unfortunately, most lawyers lack the time or foresight to be able to do this.

During a Thursday afternoon session at ABA Techshow, Sonia Miller-Van Oort of Sapientia Law Group in Minneapolis and Las Vegas lawyer Gina Bongiovi walked attendees through the steps necessary to create a tech blueprint for themselves and their firms in a session titled “Going From Reactive to Proactive—Technology and Business Planning for a Law Firm.”

“Lawyers are constantly reacting because we’re always so busy,” said Miller-Van Oort. “It’s hard to stop reacting and be proactive in your approach. It’s really easy to just hope that your existing technology will magically fix itself, but that’s not going to happen.”

Instead, lawyers must take a step back and carve out some time to develop a detailed plan—and the more specific the plan, the better. Starting with an assessment of the firm’s current technology, lawyers and the relevant decision-makers and implementers at the firm, should then conduct a detailed analysis of where the deficiencies and inefficiencies are and what type of software would help solve those problems.

For instance, Bongiovi noted that if duplication of contract data entry is a pain point, then possible solutions are SalesForce or InfusionSoft. Likewise, if credit card processing is clunky, then Clio, LawPay and QuickBooks could be solutions. However, it’s also important for a plan to account for potential drawbacks, as Bongiovi noted some programs can be very expensive and might not integrate with a lawyer’s existing technology. “It’s easy to go out and get some $5,000-a-year practice management software and hire the IT firm to come in and implement it, but it might not be a good fit,” she said.

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