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The Newly Solo Attorney: Using Technology To Be Productive Wherever You Go

I’ve spent a lot of time on this site discussing way attorneys can use technology, wherever they are, to stay productive and efficient. As a newly solo attorney with many competing demands on my time, I consider it important to stay productive at all times. I’m not talking about merely reading emails on my phone either. After all, it’s increasingly true that technology allow attorneys like myself to complete more advanced and complicated tasks while on the go.

Today was a busy, but otherwise unexceptional day for me, but serves well to highlight a few of the tools I use to stay productive on the go. When I woke up, my “to do list’ included 1) managing the production and shipment of subscription boxes for my other business, 2) a networking opportunity with a colleague in downtown San Francisco, 3) drafting a blog post for The Sociable Lawyer (yup, this very post you’re reading), 4) drafting a blog post to write for my other site, and 5) keeping all of my social media platforms buzzing with activity. Thankfully, I didn’t have any pressing deadlines on my case work for my law practice. Nonetheless, it was a lot of work to accomplish in one day and I was able to use various tools to complete my work.

I started the morning with a cup of coffee and sat down at my computer.  I spent about 30 minutes reading my Twitter stream before using Tweetdeck to schedule tweets to go live at random points throughout the day (a task which took just about half an hour). I then spent about an hour reading emails and visiting my LinkedIn Groups in order to read new posts and contribute a comment on a recent discussion about a recent copyright lawsuit between Google and Java. I wasn’t familiar with the case, but I was able to view the brief online thanks to a link from Wired. In the discussion, one of my colleagues in the Group suggested that perhaps copyright protection should be extended to the creator of a programming language if for no other reason than because of the amount of effort involved. This reminded me of a case in law school that rejected a grant of copyright for “sweat of the brow” (i.e. granting copyright merely because of the effort put into the work regardless of the originality of the work). A visit to Google Scholar allowed me to quickly identify Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. which rejected the possibility of granting copyright on the basis of effort alone. After reviewing some additional relevant case law and the U.S. Copyright Act, I was satisfied that I was prepared to engage with the Group and leave an intelligent comment. I consider it important to read LinkedIn Group discussions in order to stay informed on issues relevant to my practice groups. Similarly, I also believe it’s important to engage with other lawyers in your practice area in order to enhance your reputation and expand your professional network.

Afterwards, I spent several hours coordinating all of the international orders for my other business. To be honest, the work I performed for my non-legal business presented me with the least number of opportunities for utilizing social media and new technology. Specifically, this work included preparing a few hand-written notes to new purchasers, filling out customs declaration forms, and hand packaging boxes. By the time the first boxes were ready to go out the door, it was time to head downtown for my 12:30 meeting. I pulled up the public transit and scheduled the time for my trip downtown.

While waiting for the bus I used my phone to read and respond to a few emails. This is something most lawyers have been doing since the Blackberry was introduced, so I don’t consider this particularly tech-forward. However, I brought my iPad, and using Evernote, I was also able to prepare the first draft of this blog post on my commute downtown. This included using the Droid Law app on my phone to look up the link and citation for the Feist case I referenced earlier in the article. I arrived at the meeting and had lunch with my colleague. He presented me with his business card. Because I’ve been known to misplace a business card or two in my time, I discretely took a picture of his card with Evernote, thereby adding it to my account where it would be impossible to lose and easy to find later on.

On the way home, I worried that the day was already getting away from me. I had plenty to work to complete, and of course I wanted to stay productive, so I continued work on this post in Evernote. By the time I’d arrived home I’d completed several revisions and it was closer to final form. In case you are wondering, if I’d been driving instead of taking public transit, I could have used either Evernote or Dragon Dictation to dictate this post. Meanwhile, TweetDeck was posting my scheduled posts from this morning, thereby keeping me active in my social media network.

Ultimately, I finished the bulk of this post and my other activities with plenty of time to work on my case work and prepare a post for my other site. All and all, I felt very productive by the end of the day.

So this is an example of how I used technology and social media to accomplish as many tasks as possible in a brief period on an entirely unremarkable day. I’d love to hear your tips and strategies for using smart phones, tablets and productivity apps to enhance your practice. Leave me a comment.

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One Comment

  1. Alex Renoult says:

    Thanks for great post. As a recruiter I think we have such a same nomad way of life on pro side. So important to keep in touch with business and stay productive during dead times.

    For that I use to work through several 2.0 tools:
    – evernote: free, user friendly, multi OS. Replace my memory but not my intelligence 😉
    – Dropbox: my virtual and cloudy hard disk. Multi platform too. Can use it from Frisco to Tokyo no problem. Recently they add a securised way to send documents throug a web link. Bozo stuff but you keep your mailbox server light if you use to send heavy docs to your clients! We use to SEND. Here we move to a downloadable document.
    – wunderkit: free too. Smart piece of work. Could be used as your todo list dashboard but also as collaborative project application. Quite tough to explain but I invite you to have a look on that German startup application.
    – social media presence: I tweet maybe 20 a day about articles I found or whatever. But actually it took me maybe 30 minutes right in the morning. Tweet deck is cool, but let’s have a look on combo ifttt.com + bufferapp.com. With these 2 stuffs in your backpack you should be relax for a productive, efficient, but not time consuming presence online.

    Hope my English gonna be understandable for a froggie french guy like me 😉