Acquiring Technology Knowledge

I was interviewed today for two upcoming articles on law practice management topics for one of the sister publications of American Lawyer Media. One of the topics dealt with the available resources for busy lawyers at solo and small firms which enable them to keep up on the latest trends in technology. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you now, rather than make you wait.

Sure there are lots and lots of books available out there. But I don’t think they’re particularly helpful anymore. By the time they come out in print they are outdated for all but the most broad concepts. I believe that the keys to the tech knowledge kingdom are found online.

First and foremost are listservs. These are online communities which enable participants to easily reach out to hundreds or thousands of others for assistance, explanation, and referral to products and vendors. At the top of my list are ABA LawTech and TechnoLawyer.

Next are a few excellent blogs. Among my favorites are Nerino Petro’s Compujurist, Dennis Kennedy, Digital Practice of Law, and Netlawblog .

Blogs bring content to my inbox, like listservs. But mostly it is a “teaser” about something new available on the blog, with a live link to go directly to it should I desire to do so. Anything which does not appear helpful or interesting gets deleted without even having to open it. Interesting content with no long-term value other than general knowledge gets read. If I find it highly valuable and want to make sure I can easily put my hands on it later, I print it to PDF and save it in an appropriate topical folder on my hard drive. This way, even if the blog disappears from the universe, I have the information safely tucked away. And the information is fully searchable by my desktop search engine. So if my faulty Swiss-cheese memory only remembers a few words or a phrase later, I can still find it easily and quickly.

What I forgot to mention during the interview was eNewsletters. And that’s embarrassing, because I was interrupted in reading one when the call came in. I rely on quite a few eNewsletters to keep me up to date on technology topics. At the top of my list are those from Woody’s. They offer eNewsletters on various topics, from Email Essentials to MS Office. You can pick and choose which topics you subscribe to. You’ve probably already noticed from my other posts that I subscribe to and read PCMag.com regularly. It isn’t law firm specific, but it covers a wide array of products and trends, and I like their product reviews. Of course I could not live without LLRX.com, which stands for Law Library Research Exchange. I’m never sure whether it’s an eNewsletter or a Blog, or both. Whatever you want to call it, it’s highly educational.

Of course I subscribe to lots more than this. But keeping up on technology is what you expect of me. I have to know more than the average bear attorney in order to maintain my value! You, on the other hand, need to pay attention to your core business, which is practicing law. You need to know enough about technology to make good decisions, and to not be bamboozled by sales people and consultants.

Lastly, are educational seminars. Those state bars which have law practice managers like myself are often sources of good programs on the use of technology by law firms and courts, as well as a whole host of related areas like ethical requirements, metadata risks, security, EDD and so forth. Some vendors put on good local seminars too, but of course we know they always have an “agenda” so it is hard to concentrate on the content without a certain measure of skepticism.

If you happen to be anywhere near an educational conference of the Association of Legal Administrators, you will find extremely high quality technology seminars. ABA TechSHOW in Chicago each spring is always on my must do list. And when I can, I attend one of the American Lawyer Media LegalTECH, usually in New York City.

There you have it folks. You found the technology learning resources assembled here first. (Maybe 🙂 )

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