I am a luddite, defined as a person who opposes technology. I am not opposed to all things, just mostly to the need to obsess over the latest gadget or app [such as a “Fitbit” for instance; do you really need a wrist band to tell you that you are getting fat and lazy? That is what spouses and sarcastic friends are for! The zombie apps come to mind, although they are at least funny.] I liked the wheel, for example. It seemed a good idea, like baked bread, and dogs. So, I believe I am uniquely suited to help you young smarty-pants phone toting new lawyers the difference between what you need, and what you want when it comes to starting up your IT suite. Here goes!
Let me start with an example – you want a BMW M3 series. You need a good reliable car, or a bus pass. See the difference?
For a young solo starting out, who wants to work within the incredibly debt-plagued, shoe-string, ramen-eating existence you all appear to inhabit, here is what you want vs. what you need in your home-office to help you get started:
- You want an Ipad with Skype. You need a PC laptop or desktop with a decent monitor, and bundled with MS Office.
- You want a multi-function scanner-printer-fax machine that will communicate with the International Space Station and make espresso. You need a good laser jet printer like an HP1022, one that functions reliably and flawlessly and does not cost so much for toner, and an e-fax account that goes to your email.
- You want the IPhone 6. You need a good reliable phone that can give you some of the more useful apps like One Note, Dragon Dictation, or Fast Case.
- You want cloud storage. You need a good portable hard-drive with a huge amount of storage for backing up your inevitable lost data or laptop failure.
- You want a sophisticated online management solution for your practice, like Clio or Abacus. You need Outlook, which by the way comes with MS Office. It has contacts for your client info, task manager for keeping you on top of your deadlines and projects, journal and notes for detailed online memos or tracking your billing activities, a calendar function that frankly, despite all the hype, no one has actually beaten, and a mail management system that, while it is a bit of a pain, can do some pretty cool things in terms of helping organize your research and make your day flow smoothly.
- You want Westlaw. You need to learn to use the free search engine provided by the State Bar or Google Scholar advanced search, or, god forbid, use the free county law library or the one at the local law school down the street, and make time to go there.
Total cost for what you want – 4k. For what you need? About $700.00. Want vs. Need.
Everyone clear now?