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Freelance Lawyers as Techno-Sherpas, Leading the Way in Collaboration

Sherpas guide Himalayan climbers to mountain peaks and carry their equipment. As a freelance lawyer, I help my clients reach new levels of success in their practices by shouldering part of their workload on an as-needed basis.

Because all of my work involves collaborating with other lawyers, and because technology has always been the key to my ability to do that on a remote (virtual) basis, I’ve also long served as a guide, introducing my clients to new and more efficient ways to collaborate. When I launched my practice in the mid-’90s, for example, I introduced many of my clients to that newfangled tool called e-mail and its killer feature: the ability to attach a document that the recipient could download and edit.

While technology has come a long way since then, efficient collaboration among solo and small firm lawyers has often been stymied by the fact that the process must be usable for all team members, regardless of their level of comfort with new technologies. Larger organizations don’t have this problem because they can require that their employees have a certain level of technological fluency. The good news is that new technologies are becoming easier and easier to use, substantially flattening or eliminating the learning curve.

Although I already use technology to efficiently accomplish my own work, as a result of attending ABA Techshow at the end of March, I’ve decided to make a renewed push to help my clients use technology to collaborate more efficiently. To that end, rather than exchanging documents that I draft for my clients via e-mail, I’ll be storing them in, and sharing them from, Microsoft OneDrive. This will enable us to edit the same document, rather than having to e-mail different versions of each document back and forth; in fact, we’ll even be able to edit the same document at the same time. The confidentiality of all documents will be ensured by the use of Viivo, which secures files shared from any device and into public cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box. I’m committed to providing my clients clear instructions on how to get started, and to answering any questions or concerns about this new method of collaboration at no charge. And, of course, for those clients who use WordPerfect rather than MS Word, I’ll continue to draft documents in their preferred application.

If you’re a freelance lawyer, what technologies and processes do you use to facilitate efficient collaboration with your clients? If you’ve hired a freelance attorney, have you e-mailed documents back and forth or used another method (such as creating an account for the freelance attorney in your practice management system, with access rights limited to the project(s) on which the freelance attorney is working)?

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