Given the vast array of law practice technology options, as well as the further multitudes of office technology used in law firms, it’s no wonder that no two law offices share the same, exact technology rig — though, many share constituent parts.
There have been several noticeable shifts in practice management technology preferences since I began consulting with lawyers on the topic. Two of the most significant have been the trends for new attorneys establishing practices to select Apple products over Microsoft products (this is often boiled down to the foundational debate: Mac versus PC? — If this keeps up, MILO is gonna stand for ‘Microsoft in the Law Office’) and GMail over Outlook (the other big debate: Google versus Microsoft, in microcosm — see a trend here?).
Even as many law firms use GMail (and its associated applications, sometimes even the enterprise version of the whole, Google Apps for Work (formerly Google Apps for Business)), most GMail account holders never apply any of a number of useful GMail extensions that would promote additional functionality with their email.
If you’re not getting much more out of your GMail than sending and receiving messages, try these add-ons, which I would liken to cranberry sauce, if I didn’t hate cranberry sauce — I like cranberries, though: Weird: (In this analogy, email is turkey.)
-Boomerang allows you to set reminders, schedule email messages, establish recurring messages and track messages. Free and various premium versions are available. Write the email at 3 am; just don’t send it until business hours commence. Read: Be crazy, just don’t look crazy.
-Spanning is a product that will back up your Google Apps, including GMail. Many lawyers will back up their documents, but not their cloud-based storage systems, including documents. If you work in, and store the majority of your data in, one place, like a heavy GMail/Google Apps user would — why wouldn’t you back up that data directly, just as you would back up your computer or server directly, with a more traditional service? A free trial is available; but, the yearly subscription rate is affordable, and less than that which you would pay for a broader service, like Carbonite.
-Streak appends CRM (customer relationship management) features to your GMail. The advantage of this approach is that your marketing process exists within your email, where you do most of your work anyway — closing windows, switching programs less often, you know the drill. Streak offers various CRM flows, or ‘flavors’, and is reasonably priced for small offices.
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Though not as apropos as APPropos, this song has been stuck in my head for a week, or more:
John Lennon’s favorite song off of ‘Ram’, this is tongue-in-cheek Macca at his best, playing all the instruments. Ram on — you can listen to the whole album, which is phenomenal from start to finish, here.