In 2015, lawyers can be productive no matter where they are. With today’s technology, there’s no reason to be chained to your office in order to get work done. Instead, mobile and cloud technologies make it possible for lawyers to access important information using any Internet-enable device.
The best part about these new technologies? They’re affordable and thus easily accessible to all lawyers — not just those with deep pockets, as used to be the case.
For a great example, look no further than Kellie Morgantini. She’s the Executive Director of Legal Services for Seniors, a California-based non-profit that uses web-based software so that its lawyers can access the office’s case-related information — and practice law — from anywhere.
According to Kellie, it wasn’t always this way. Before Legal Services for Seniors made the transition to web-based case management software, transferring and syncing data between two California-based offices that were over an hour apart was a complicated technology tango.
“We have two offices and a number of lawyers and advocates. At any given time we have people on the road or working from one of our offices. We have moving parts and people that are often on the road in outreach mode. Our case-related data is constantly changing and being updated,” she explains. “It used to be that we had a database in one office and once a week we’d copy data onto a zip drive, transport it to the another office, and then upload it there. That meant that we’d have the same updated data in both offices approximately one day each week.”
Now that they’ve switched to web-based software, where their office’s data is stored on centralized cloud-computing servers, they always have access to their office’s most up-to-date information: “We use Pika Software as our case management system. It’s web-based and is specifically created for legal non-profits. Pika allows us to have all of our data in one place. And, because it’s web-accessible, we can view updated case-related information from anywhere and instantly communicate and collaborate with each other.”
Another benefit of using software developed for legal non-profits? According to Kellie, it’s far more secure than other web-based platforms not designed specifically for lawyers: “The best part is that it’s secure compared to Dropbox and Box. With Pika we know our data will be protected the way we need it to be, since it’s made for lawyers. And, we can communicate with each other in a secure online environment and can avoid email, which is inherently unsafe.”
Web-based case management software has streamlined Kellie’s workflow and that of her employees, saving substantial amounts of time and allowing them to focus on representing clients instead of shuffling papers between offices. “As Executive Director, it’s my responsibility to review any document that goes through our office. In the old days they would have to drive all of the original documents from our other office to my office and I’d review them. Then, a week later they would pick up the documents and drive them back to the client who was located 60+ miles away,” she says. “Now with wireless access, a laptop, and wireless scanners like ScanSnap, the client will walk in, see an advocate, and then the documents will be scanned into the system. Then we open up a case in our database and I’m instantly notified to look at the new case. And even though I’m 70 miles away I can look at the exact same documents the advocate is looking at with the client and provide my feedback immediately.”
In other words, for Kellie and her office, web-based case management software has made all the difference. So, when I asked Kellie what her advice would be for lawyers who are considering using new types of technology in their practices, it’s not surprising that she she stressed the importance of embracing change: “If you wait until you’re sure that you’re absolutely ready to use technology you’ll never use it at all. Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid of it. And, always remember that as lawyers the first thing you always have to think about is client confidentiality. That should always be your top consideration.”