Doing More with Less

Technology has changed the way lawyers work. Just a few years ago, law firms used typists and voice dictation to draft documents. Now, software such as ChatGPT can write letters for us (although you might want to proofread the letter closely). We have all heard about the lawyers who used ChatGPT to write a brief citing made up cases that did not exist. Aside from the media circus their mistakes caused, they also had to pay $5,000 in sanctions. There are many ways to misuse large language models and new artificial intelligence tools. Mike Kasin drafted an article where he shows how we might avoid some of the missteps and use AI safely and ethically. You may not want to use ChatGPT to draft your next legal brief, but it could help find relevant portions of a 1,000-page document production.

Using technology, lawyers can do more with less using technology. One can run a law practice with a smartphone, computer, internet connection, legal research service, and productivity software. With video conference software, we can meet with clients and attend court at home or anywhere in the world with internet access. In her article, Ariel Brownell Lee discusses how she has used technology to work remotely, be more efficient, and provide better service to her clients at the same time. She shows us that technology can help us balance family, quality of life, and running a legal business without major sacrifices.

While technology solves many problems, it does not manage itself. We used to keep paper files in two-hole punched folders in large file cabinets. Now, most of our work lives in digital files stored on computers and in the cloud. We need systems in place to manage our digital files, so they are organized, protected, and accessible when needed. David Lederman drafted an article discussing how to manage a digital office and keep things organized and manageable.

The shift to digital client files also requires us to reconsider our business practices and our ethical duties to our clients. Often, technological changes move faster than the rules that govern what we can or cannot do. Various bar associations have provided guidance on how lawyers can best handle their ethical obligations. Lorraine Walsh authored an article about some of the ethical considerations to consider in adopting modern technologies and using them to serve our clients.

While technology helps us be more productive and efficient, it can expose us to threats that did not exist before the internet connected us all. In my article, I discuss some of the cybersecurity issues facing attorneys and provide suggestions for how to lower one’s cybersecurity risk. In this edition of CC Lawyer, we explore different trends to help lawyers use technology more effectively to better serve clients while helping lawyers protect themselves from technological threats.

Thank you to Ariel Brownell Lee, Lorraine Walsh, Mike Kasin, and David Lederman for their article contributions and sharing their knowledge with our legal community. Thank you to Carole Lucido and the Contra Costa Lawyer Editorial Board for allowing me to guest edit this issue.