Thursday, January 17, 2013

Memo to Lawyers - You can't type!

Why is it that many young lawyers are of the opinion that their time is better spent pounding on a keyboard, editing and (usually unsuccessfully) formatting documents?

Is it overconfidence, or the fact that this new generation of grads has grown up fully engulfed with technology? 

We have these conversations with attorneys daily, who assume that dictation and transcription are "old school".  What they do not understand at first, is that everybody has certain specialties, talents and workloads that, when delegated properly, can greatly increase productivity, and therefore income.

Legal secretaries are trained and paid to prepare documents, research cases, gather documents and oversee all front end duties of a firm.  Most that we encounter are very, very good at their jobs.

Lawyers, on the other hand are the rain makers.  They need to communicate with clients, offer counsel,  litigate cases, prepare for and attend depositions, etc.  In other words, generate billable hours to keep the firm financially viable.

Even if the attorney could prepare documents as well as their legal secretary (not that I have ever witnessed such a case), why would they?  Is typing a document a good use of an attorney's time and effort?

The answer, as it often does, can be found by looking into the past.  We can all speak faster than we can type, therefore, there is no more productive use of technology available than dictation and/or speech recognition.

Chris Fletcher, in his recent op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal noted "The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the economy will provide 21,880 new jobs for lawyers annually between 2010 and 2020; law schools since 2010, however, have produced more than 44,000 graduates each year."

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