CHANGE 1.0: Document Production
When I began my legal career 20+ years ago, I felt in my gut that word processing and merging documents from a database would revolutionize the legal field. One of the first attorneys I worked with still used, brace yourself, a typewriter and carbon paper. I was right, but it was a knowledge based on an already existing reality. The revolution really came as technology allowed those tools to become available to the solo practitioner and small firm.
CHANGE 2.0: Document Access
I was a little bit more on the cutting edge of the "paperless" revolution. I digitized documents as early as 1995. The advantages of a digital file over a paper file seemed painfully obvious to me. The problem with the paperless revolution was everyone else still used paper, including the court. I made the switch prior to the implementation of e-filing in bankruptcy court anyway. I can't imagine practicing any other way now.
CHANGE 3.0: Case Management
So I was surprised when I found myself getting those familiar butterflies of change in my gut. The culprit this time was three things: 1) A little software program called Everything and a bigger search engine called Google; 2) Discovering that I could email client's cell phones; and 3) Google Wave and Google Voice.
Combining the strength of search engines with digital communication allows the office to quickly find everything related to a case, quickly and efficiently communicate with clients, all without the database work traditionally associated with tracking documents, calls, events and emails. I've used TimeMatters for over ten years and it feels as clunky and slow as the old paper filing system did ten years ago when I switched to a paperless office.
So Change 3.0 is underway and as with every big change, the investment in time and effort will pay off with exponential increases in efficiency.