In 2012, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates revised its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include knowledge about the “risks and benefits” of technology as a measure of professional legal competence.
In the Technology Training section of the 2018 ABA TECHREPORT, solo and small practices of 1-9 attorneys thought knowing about technology, but not training with it, fulfilled their technology competency obligations.
But training with technology is essential to technology competence. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule implies that cultivating a skill requires practice and experience with the skill, not just knowledge of it. And technology training is more accessible than you might think!
CLE Programming and Resources
CLE programs and resources exist to equip attorneys with practical skills, including technology. Since all attorneys are required to fulfill CLE requirements, it’s easy enough to do. Especially because you won’t even need to leave your office to participate in many of them. Webinars, both live and on-demand, are available at your convenience. Technology topics may include everything from file management to information security protocols to the basics of legal tech.
To get you started, check out the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center and the Legal Technology Core Competencies Certification Coalition. These CLE resources are specifically designed to teach you about legal technology and how to use it.
Provider Demos AND Free Trials
A thirty-minute demo with a software provider is a great introduction to legal tech. And, since they devote their entire business to it, providers will know quite a bit about competitive products, too. These are free, easy-to-schedule opportunities that bring you face-to-face with a legal technology platform.
These demos are typically gateways to free trials. These no-harm-no-foul opportunities allow you to test every tool packed into the platform and see how your practice can accomplish goals through legal technology.
Every legal technology provider offers demos, and many of them also offer free trials. Just go to a provider’s website and request a demo. The button to click will be obvious. The trick, then, is deciding whose button to click first. That’s up to you. Our Buyers Guide to Legal Technology can help you decide, alongside our How to Transition Your Practice Toward Legal Technology blog post.
Attorney Support and Advice
Your network of fellow attorneys are fantastic technology resources as well. Attorneys with previous technology experience possess different technology backgrounds, but they also possess valuable insight about legal technology best practices. They have tips and tricks for streamlining your user-learning process.
When asking attorneys for practical technology advice, start from the beginning. How did they consider the search? What training have they received that they liked? But remember, too, that legal tech platforms are constantly being upgraded. Well, some are, anyway. So be sure to get clarity about when they completed their review.
Half the challenge of cultivating skills as a technology-user is knowing how to start cultivating them in practical, non-theoretical ways. As they say, the best teacher is experience. So, jump in! Start a free trial on some platforms. But remember to think about what you are looking for in a platform too. These resources, along with time dedicated to them, will prepare you to be fully tech-savvy lawyers who practice law more efficiently than ever.