First of all, thanks to the great folks at ALPS for the kind invitation to post here at the ALPS411 blog. I've been a reader for a while, particularly since I set up a solo law practice almost 2 years ago. Since that time, I've had my feet firmly planted with one foot on the ground and another in the cloud.
(Quick Aside: If you are looking for a post on cyber securtiy, client confidence issues, or other tech oriented thoughts about the "Cloud" as it relates to the practice of law, this is not the post for you. There are many wonderful posts here at the ALPS 411 blog for that and I commend them to you.)
While that last statement could be (properly) interpreted as my being happy with the move and the better work/life balance that I've achieved since the move, what I really mean is that my solo legal practice uses what I hope to be a good mix of the benefits of the "cloud" (whatever that may mean as of writing this post) and the hum drum paper and land line practice of law. At age 40, I am firmly in the generation old enough to remember when voice mail was first introduced but young enough to have grown up with computers.
When I went out on my own on July 1, 2010, I embraced the lawyer mobility available through cloud based tools. I am the entire staff of my law firm, so I needed to streamline and go paperless (to the extent possible in legal practice) to keep my practice manageable. I signed up for Clio, hooked my trusty laptop to the internet, later purchased a ScanSnap scanner, bought a Blackberry Playbook (yes, I’m still using a Blackberry), and charged forward. While the scanner is not in the cloud, it keeps my paper to my goal of a two drawer file cabinet.
I bill clients by e-mail, take my tablet wherever I go, and scan everything that I can to searchable .pdf and file them in my Clio software. This allows me access to the documents from anywhere with a wifi connection (of course with all of the caveats about public wifi) and also acts as a backup for what is on my trusty laptop. Without all of these web-based practice tools and other cloud related legal technology, my practice would not run as smoothly.
On the other hand, many of my clients are construction professionals here in Virginia that still run a paper intensive business (though even that is changing). These companies and individuals are very mych based in the "real" world and want to see me and shake my hand. Thay like the feel of paper and the sound of a voice on a cell phone.
Because of my practice area (construction law) and my clientelle, I could not go completely into the cloud if I wanted to. Frankly, I like the balance of "on the ground" marketing through face to face contact and web or cloud based practice tools and marketing (like my blog Construction Law Musings). While having a web presence is, in my opinion, necessary, it cannot be all that I use. The flood of web based possibilities seems endless, but trying to use all of them would kill my productivity and, frankly, cause my eyes to hurt from staring at a screen. There is simply too much out there to use it all and to try would kill my productivity.
I find a combination of old school pen and ink and "new school" cloud based tools makes for a great balance in my practice. I leave it to you to find that balance for yourself.
Christopher Hill is a construction lawyer at The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC in Richmond, Virginia and a member of the Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law. You can follow his blog at: http://constructionlawva.com/welcome-to-construction-law-musings/.