Some things are now pretty obvious. Such as…
The modern world is now dominated by technology —i.e. computers, smartphones, software, and apps.
All of which are connected to the Internet, almost all the time.
The way lawyers do their work has been shifting, and some of the change has been bewildering and unsettling.
In the midst of massive change, there are always opportunities as well as challenges.
In the “Digital Age,” the opportunities are huge. As are some of the challenges.
The key to effectively dealing with both is getting a clear, foundational understanding of these three important truths.
- Lawyers are classic “knowledge workers“ because we solve problems by thinking. We will succeed by leveraging our knowledge and not allowing ourselves to get bogged down with information (which is less valuable than knowledge)
- Knowledge work has been radically disrupted by digital technology (e.g. computers, smartphones, and the Internet). There are great opportunities to be exploited, but also some significant challenges (because of rapid tech-driven societal changes) to overcome.
- We need to radically change the way we do our knowledge work. Sadly, there are no formulas to follow. We need to think creatively about managing technology so that we can, in turn, leverage our knowledge more effectively.
Learning to do these things is not easy.
But it’s easier if you focus on what you have some ability to influence, and avoid wasting time trying to control the uncontrollable (or resist what’s inevitable).
Back in 2006 when I started my solo practice I had to figure out the best way to use technology mostly on my own (which I didn’t mind as much as some attorneys because of my background).
But now there are more ways for lawyers to get whatever help they need. So I recommend not trying to figure things out on your own if you can avoid it.
If you want the best advice I have for solo or small firm lawyers, then here’s the resource to start with.
Not every knowledge worker is going to adapt well to the Digital Age. Many solo & small firm lawyers will probably get marginalized.
It’s sad, but inevitably true.
If you can use technology to streamline the low-level data and information processing, then you can focus on the most valuable knowledge work.
A simple graphic encapsulates this point.