How To Master The 80/20 Principle in Legal Tech
Technology is the major catalytic force in most professions today.
Whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, or a teacher, chances are you use technology daily to make your life easier and your work more productive. (Teachers more than ever in these days of the pandemic).
I’ve written and spoken a lot on the role technology plays in the day-to-day operation of a law firm (i.e., This guide on how to start a Mac law firm )
Properly leveraging technology is rare, while under-utilizing technology is more of a normal state.
You could have access to all the latest software solutions and technology – but are you truly getting the most out of them? I love the 80-20 Rule, aka the Pareto principle: 20 percent of your activity is accountable for 80 percent of your results.
Now, it doesn’t have to be 80-20; it can also be 90-10 or 85-15.
Did you know that Warren Buffet can trace 90% of his wealth from only ten investments?
Or the fact that Apple sells only 20% of the world’s smartphones but reaps 92% of the profits?
How do you apply this principle to LegalTech and make a breakthrough in leveraging technology within your law practice?
Expert status not needed to leverage tech
You don’t need to be a tech-wiz or expert to significantly increase the leverage on your technology and, in the process, reap a boost in your productivity. Nor do you need to spend thousands of dollars on legal/tech consultants.
Try working with the software you already have in place. Instead of going wide with the number of apps you use, go deep with those that matter most.
Here’s the problem: It is easy to ignore the top 20% of apps you use 80% of their time.
The new app.
The new plugin
That brand, spanking new wonder-feature that will make your life so much easier.
Easy to look 👀 at these, right? 👆
Yes, and that’s what most people do.
The shift in mindset that’s not popular but can transform your tech leverage is this:
20% of your software stack is responsible for 80% of results in your law firm.
Read that one again:
20% of your software stack is responsible for 80% of results in your law firm
20% of apps are used 80% of the time.
This phenomenon applies to your personal life, as well.
Just off the top of your head, think of the apps that you use daily on your iPhone.
Now open your phone and count how many apps are installed. I doubt you use 20% daily. 10%? 5%? The same principle exists for your law practice.
So, How Do You Optimize Your Technology to GET more out of it?
The very first step is to identify the top 20% of your apps.
Figure out the apps you:
- use the most
- are most beneficial to your practice
This will lay a solid groundwork when you move on to optimizing legal tech the right way and declutter yourself from distracting tools.
How much time have you spent in the past year to increase your skillset in the top 3 apps?
That is, in most cases, an embarrassing number.
THAT is where you should spend your time.
Imagine you spend one hour per week over the next 90 days learning how to improve those apps’ usage.
But where to start?
For most, Outlook, Word, and your case management solution will often be in or near the top 3.
Make a list of all the features available in each:
- What features have you told yourself you’ll learn one day but never have?
- What recently added feature were you excited when you saw it?
- What are the overlooked features you could be using quite often but have never taken the time to learn?
Go to the software’s website and skim over their feature list. Jot down all that seem of value.
Now for each software, pick 3.
For your top 3 apps X 3 features, that’s a total of 9 features you want to learn/improve/implement.
Now schedule some time to work on this every week.
I’ll soon write another article about a real-world test I did this with my team last quarter. We made it easy: everyone on our team had to learn/improve/implement three features in Q3. I asked everyone to track their time and estimate how much time they saved per week.
The results speak for themselves:
- Features Implemented – 37 (we have ten team members, a few went above and beyond)
- Hours Invested: 35 hours 22 minutes
- Hours Saved: 33 hours per week
- x 4 weeks = 132 hours per month
- x 52 weeks = 1,716 hours per year
1,716 hours per year saved as a result of this 90-day initiative. Take THAT to the bottom line!
That is 17.5% short of one full-time employee! (using 2,000 hours per year)
Focusing your energy on these apps and features will result in a more productive workflow like my team did. Most people carry a lot of tech-guilt, wherein they know they could be doing so much more, but they don’t.
Here’s my challenge for you to overcome this:
- Pick one feature, yes, just one feature that would move the needle for you from the top 3 applications and learn how to use and implement it.
- Schedule a meeting within your team and learn it with them.
Doing this once a week or once a month will help you increase productivity, encourage cohesive learning within your practice, and help you make the most of legal tech.
How many lawyers will do this?
Sadly, very few. Instead, they do what you likely do.
Keep looking for that new app that will make everything better. That will simplify their workflow. That will let them get more done faster.
It is far sexier than my recommendation. But the work that makes significant progress is rarely sexy.
- Pick the three apps you use 80% of the time
- Brainstorm and pick the three most impactful features for each app
- Choose three features to work on in the next 90 days
- Schedule a recurring time block to learn/improve/implement each of those features.
- Repeat every 90 days
Whether you’re a solo lawyer or a small law firm, this will benefit you without having to worry about spending money on apps or consultations.
If you’re still reading, and plan on doing this, tell me about it. Don’t be an island. Good luck!