Four ways to position your firm for success in 2019

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Nicole Black, BridgeTower Media Newswires

It’s not easy being a lawyer these days. The legal landscape is changing quickly due to increased globalization, competition from non-traditional legal providers, and rapid technological advances.

Understanding how these trends impact the practice of law isn’t easy, but it’s important, because arming yourself with knowledge is the best way to succeed in the future.

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to help you learn more about the ever-changing legal marketplace, along with steps to help you set your firm up for success in 2019.

Stay on top of change

In the coming year, make it a point to learn about changing technology and how it impacts the practice of law. For starters, you have an ethical obligation to do so, since New York now requires that lawyers maintain technology competence, as do 33 other jurisdictions.

So learn about technology advancements by incorporating it into your daily routine. For starters, sign up for an RSS feed reader such as Feedly (online: feedly.com). Then, subscribe to a few of these legal blogs and skim through the new posts every morning:

• Above the Law legal technology posts (https://abovethelaw.com/technology/)

• LawSites (lawsitesblog.com)

• Ride the Lightning (https://ridethelightning.senseient.com/)

• Future Lawyer (https://futurelawyer.typepad.com/)

Also, consider signing up for webinars offered by your local or state bar associations. Legal technology vendors also offer free webinars as well. For example, the company I work for hosts free educational webinars every month (online: https://www.mycase.com/blog/category/webinars/).

Create a marketing plan

Next, create a marketing plan. But before you get started, determine a marketing budget up front. One of the best ways to set a marketing budget and plan for the year is to look to the past. Assess what worked for your firm last year, and then work from there to determine an appropriate budget for 2019.

Next, create a marketing plan. Your law firm’s marketing plan should be tailored to meet the needs and size of your law firm. Make sure to consider your firm’s practice areas, target clients, marketing budget,] and geographic location during the planning process. It’s also important to review last year’s marketing efforts and determine which channels performed well — and which ones didn’t. Although this won’t be determinative, it’s a good starting point.

Go mobile

24/7 on-the-go access to your firm’s case-related information is a must in 2019. The good news is that affordable technological innovations offer 21st century lawyers more mobility and flexibility than ever before. So if your law firm doesn’t already provide tools that allow you to access your law firm’s data 24/7 from any location using any internet-enabled device, then you know what needs to do in 2019: go mobile!

Ditch unsecure email

Which brings me to my last recommendation: stop using email in 2019. By now you likely know that email is inherently unsecure. It’s like sending a postcard written in pencil through the post office, an issue that the American Bar Association acknowledged when it issued Formal Opinion 477 in 2017. The Committee explained that due to “cyber-threats...it is not always reasonable to rely on the use of unencrypted email...(and lawyers should consider) a variety of options to safeguard communications including...(a) secure internet portal.”

So consider transitioning to a more secure communication method. One of the best options to consider is an online portal for law firm communications. Oftentimes these portals are built right into law practice management software. Not only are they a more secure way to communicate, they also offer a host of other benefits, including: 1) the built-in ability to share information and documents, 2) enhanced communication capabilities and threaded, easy-to-read discussions, 3) streamlined communication and collaboration that increases efficiency, and 4) 24/7 convenient access to information. Another bonus is that having all case-related information easily accessible via an online portals benefits both your and your firm’s clients, so it’s a win-win across the board!

Now that you know where to start, what are you waiting for? Incorporate these technology and practice management tips into your law firm’s plan for the coming year and get your firm ready for a successful 2019. Start planning for the new year today and reap the benefits of your hard work in 2019 and beyond!

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Nicole Black is a director at MyCase.com, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is also of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” coauthors the ABA book “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” and co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.

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