Put Down That Technology And No One Will Get Hurt

Today I read a blog post in TechnoLawyer by attorney Clark Stewart.  I enjoyed the post which addressed what it was like for Clark during his first year of practice. Clark discussed the importance of finding a mentor, something I very much agree with.

I have been fortunate in my mentors at PBI and am thrilled to be joining my favorite Law Practice Management mentor, Ellen Freedman at Freedman Consulting on May 1.

The issue that really interested me in Clark’s blog post, aside from having a mentor, was what he had to say about technology.  He noted that he purchased items he really didn’t need and found them to be a waste of money.

I love technology. I am tempted to buy all sorts of nifty items that I don’t need. I am also not certain what I would do with these items in terms of my business.

Fortunately I have good impulse control and I can normally stop myself from buying the supposedly latest and greatest new item.  For example, I still haven’t purchased a tablet. I’d rather wait and see what happens in that arena. Turns out I’ll be inheriting one in the near future, so that will do for now.

My first smart phone was actually the iPhone 3Gs.  If you know anything about smart phones you know that means I was actually a bit of a late adopter. Same is true for Facebook. Had I been a consultant at the time I would have adopted both of these technologies sooner, but I was employed by PBI and neither technology, at first, was particularly useful to me or my work with PBI.

When I began to perceive a use for a smart phone and later social media, then and only then did I begin experimenting and trying to see how I could make these items useful for my employer. Note I began to use these items before I saw a clear use. I didn’t wait until the last minute. As a result PBI was one of the first CLE organizations to use social media, especially for purposes of advertising via both paid ads and Facebook pages. Cutting edge is just fine. Bleeding edge is normally not. At least not for CLE organizations and attorneys.

Despite my fondness for technology I simply don’t feel the need to jump on the bandwagon.  By the same token, I don’t want to wait to jump on either, especially when I see a potential use for my clients. To me it is a balance. It should be the same for you.

If you enjoy purchasing technology for your personal use that’s just fine. Have at it. But when it comes to your law practice or business, don’t feel that you must purchase something until you have a good sense that it will actually be useful.

This doesn’t mean you wait beyond all reason. You don’t need to be the earliest adopter, but you want to be sure to find the right balance so you aren’t leaving behind the chance to find something that will help you improve the efficiency, and thus the financial success of your practice. You want to keep your edge and don’t want your competitors to be able to out technology you (for lack of a better phrase.)

Look for a balance when you add new technology to your business. When you find that right balance,  your chances of wasting money, or purchasing technology that isn’t quite ready for prime time become all that much lower.

We all like shiny things sure, but a modicum of planning and thought before a purchase is never a bad thing.

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