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The Best Money You Will Spend on Your Firm’s Tech This Year

by Erik Mazzone |

There’s a certain kind of advice you get once in a while that is a little infuriating. I’ve certainly gotten it a bunch, I bet you have, too. It never fails to irritate me. And here I am now about to do the same thing to you. 

It happened to me most recently with a lawyer friend who is really into photography. He takes amazing pictures and has one of those fancy cameras with the big lenses that you carry around separately in its own backpack. He brings back incredible photos from national parks and foreign destinations. 

I have been searching for a hobby for a while. Because apparently yelling at the news doesn’t qualify. Ideally, I’d have a hobby that involve lots of interesting gear to research and buy. Like a cool backpack. I figured photography fits the bill. 

I texted with my friend to find out what kind of camera and gear I should buy and where. “What’s the best camera for a new photographer who kind of wants to get into photography but isn’t ready to spend a fortune yet?”

That’s when I got the irritating advice in reply. “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Not the answer I wanted. I tried again, “yeah, I get that. But I mean, assuming I have the camera with me, what’s the best camera?”

“The one you are going to use.” Argh.

That was the end of that text chain. I still have never bought a camera. I just use my iPhone. Because I always have it with me. And it really does take surprisingly good photos. Huh.

Which brings us, dear reader, to this article and the best money you will spend on your firm’s technology this year. (Took me long enough, I know. I am a meanderer.)

I get a lot of calls, because I’ve been in law practice management and legal tech for a long time, from lawyers and firms who want to find the next, latest, greatest piece of technology for their firms. Typically, the lawyer is the unofficial tech evangelist for their firm and has overseen the purchase of various and sundry excellent (and often expensive) pieces of technology for the firm.

The evangelist often calls me a little disheartened, because after researching and vetting and selecting just the right software for their law firm, and overseeing a time-consuming implementation, and proudly unveiling it to the rest of the firm… *crickets*. The rest of the firm just pretty much ignores the new technology and goes about their business as usual. The evangelist is bummed and the other folks in the firm are wrapped in confirmation bias that technology isn’t worth the trouble.

I understand why this is such a profound bummer for the evangelist. And it is such a lost opportunity for the firm. So much work, so much optimism, so much promise. So much for all that.

Which brings us to today. 

It’s September. Summer is fading fast into fall, and 2022 is almost behind us. If another year has come and gone and you still haven’t made the upgrades to your firm tech that you’ve been wanting to make all year, and you’re wondering where the best place to spend your remaining technology budget for the year, here is my irritating response: learn to use and implement the stuff you already have.

It doesn’t matter if your only technology is Microsoft Office, or if you have a closet with a 12-year-old server chugging away (actually, wait… this does matter. If you have a 12-year-old server with all your firm data on it, stop reading right now and go call your IT person and deal with that), or if you have the latest and greatest of everything and nobody in your firm can be bothered to learn it or use it. Pick something you’ve bought, something you have already spent the money on, and learn it. Really learn it. 

And once you figure out what you own and what you want to learn, use your technology budget to buy training. Professional training.

Most of the time, law firms only buy the training that comes bundled with the software they buy – the training provided by the vendor or the consultant who is doing the implementation. This training tends to be about 5-10% of the total spend of the software. Because the vendors and consultants know, that’s all a law firm is going to buy. They also know it’s not enough, not nearly enough.

I’d suggest budgeting for training that is about 33% of the cost of the new software installed, for at least the first year or two. Find the best trainers you can find and bring them in for your whole group. It will be expensive, but it will be valuable if your colleagues walk away understanding how to better leverage the technology that your firm has already purchased.

It will be the best money you spend on tech in your firm this year. Because as irritating as it is, the best technology for your firm is the one you have with you and the one you actually know how to use.



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