Navigating the Technological Age for the Small and Solo Practitioner: Getting the Help You Need
I often wonder at the modern technological age, as someone who grew up without the Internet, had to read a map to figure out how to get to her destination, and got her first big boxy computer (with only the capacity for word processing) in college. It amazes me we have access to practically infinite amounts of information simply by clicking a few keys into Google. And while it’s fun to have a debate with a friend and be able to instantly check the exact dates of the Magna Carta, it also feels overwhelming to think I’m responsible for being on top of the latest information being produced and distributed on this big wide web.
Today there is a disparity of access to the synthesis and use of information readily available online in the legal field. If you work for a large firm, perhaps you have an army of first-year associates at the ready to review the latest case law, eager to show you they are following the latest trends and citing the appellate cases that were published yesterday. But if you’re a solo or small practitioner, you are probably busy not only practicing law and doing your best for your clients, but also marketing your services, figuring out how to maintain your IOLTA account, and maybe even trying to get home to have dinner with your family.
Some firms and government agencies have dedicated professionals who comb through multiple court websites every day, reading and summarizing the latest cases, and presenting information to their higher-ups. But most of us don’t have that luxury. We all love the story of David and Goliath, and the idea that the underdog wins against all odds. But David was prepared. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath, David was actually an expert “slinger” who was trained to kill a target from 200 yards away by throwing a rock at his weak point. That is, David had the tools to help him defeat his larger opponent; he didn’t win by his own sheer luck. (Watch Gladwell’s TED Talk “The unheard story of David and Goliath”)
In much the same way, the small and solo independent practitioner must gather tools that can enable him to compete against larger opponents who have more resources. I started the Dailies for just that reason: to level the playing field, to enable every attorney to have affordable and efficient access to the latest appellate case law in Washington, every day, regardless of whether you are on your own or have access to large firm resources. I believe every client deserves the best representation and that being on top of the latest case law can make or break a case. We need to come to terms with technology being here to stay, and we, as attorneys representing clients, need to understand it is our duty to review and incorporate the latest appellate decisions into our litigation strategy. There were 1,236 appellate cases published in Washington in 2013. How many of them did you review? Could your clients have been better served if you’d taken a few minutes a day to review the latest case law?
We are living in an age of information overload, and we need help to sort through what information is available to translate it into information that is useful for our practice and our clients. That is our purpose at the Dailies and we hope you will join us.
The Dalies is a WSBA-sponsored member benefit. You will find more information on the WSBA website.