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Antiquated attorney habits that don’t make sense today (Part 1 of 2)

We hear frequently from our legal support professional customers that they are often challenged by many of the outdated practices that their attorneys are reluctant to move past. Sometimes, all professionals – both inside and outside the legal profession – get stuck in ruts with old technology (or lack thereof), old processes, and old habits.  

So how do forward-thinking legal professionals meet the embedded practices of the legal industry with innovative ways to improve the entire firm? 

In this two-part series, we address this issue head-on.

  • Part 1 identifies the antiquated habits of attorneys that just don’t make sense in a modern practice.
  • Part 2 then addresses the central issue in this scenario – how can a paralegal or other legal professional convince the attorneys in a firm to drop those old habits?  

Antiquated habit #1: Using excessive legalese 

The law, like other professions, has its own unique lingo. Perhaps because lawyers are so dependent on words, however, the language that is historically ubiquitous to attorneys can be off-putting to regular people. Don’t believe us? Just look at the definition of the word “legalese” offered by the Cambridge Dictionary 

Words and expressions typically used in legal documents that most people find difficult to understand. 

While excessive use of phrases like “heretofore,” “party in the first part,” and a whole bevy of Latin terminology may have been fashionable in the past, the truth is, no one really likes it. This holds true for courts, clients, and most legal professionals born after 1953. 

Antiquated habit #2: Excessive reliance on dusty law books 

Law students I hate to admit it, but when I was in law school, I had to take an entire year-long course on how to do legal research in a library full of books. Perhaps schools still put students through the paces for the sake of history and nostalgia but the truth is, there are not many legal subjects you can research efficiently using hard-copy books anymore 

When online legal research first became available, it was a game-changer. It was fast, efficient, and unbelievably easy. It was also unbelievably expensive. Today, however, there is a myriad of free legal research resources available. This is an especially attractive option given how expensive it is to store, maintain, and update hard-copy materials. 

Antiquated habit #3: The overflowing email inbox 

Even though email has been commonplace for nearly 25 years, we all know a lawyer or two who just can’t seem to use the technology efficiently. They’re the ones with 145,000 emails in their inbox (and also the ones who complain when their systems crash as they search for that one key missive from opposing counsel). 

There’s no excuse for that today. Just about every email program has excellent organizational capabilities. Moreover, there are all sorts of free advice on the internet for how to manage an overflowing inbox. The time for change has come.  

Antiquated habit #4: Embracing technology, but ignoring security 

Even the most seasoned attorneys can now be found with a mobile device glued to their ears. And when you look at attorneys across all age groups, the increasing reliance on mobile technologies is truly startling.  

Nonetheless, many attorneys – despite their weighty ethical obligations to maintain client confidences – don’t pay enough attention to the security of all those mobile devices. This is a mistake of monumental proportions as it can jeopardize not only confidential client information, but also one’s professional reputation and ongoing ability to practice law. 

Read more: Cyber security basics for legal professionals>> 

Antiquated habit #5: Embracing electronic document storage, but ignoring document management 

These days, it’s hard for even the most old-school attorneys to argue that physical file storage is preferable to electronic (or cloud) storage. Unfortunately, however, just because you can get those attorneys to agree to store documents electronically does not mean you can get them to organize them effectively. 

In fact, if I could get all the hours back that I spent in meetings about document-naming conventions, I’d easily add a decade to my life. It is an extremely painful process. Nonetheless, it’s necessary. The good news is, one of the best ways to organize electronically stored documents is to treat them just like your old paper files. 

Read more: How to implement a paperless law office>> 

We’re dying to hear from you on this topic. What other antiquated habits does your firm still employ? 

Paperless law office

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