Useful Tech Skills for Lawyers: How to Use a Hammer

by | Apr 13, 2020

Imagine this.

You are embarking on a DIY home renovation project.

To prepare, you feel like you want to be equipped with the best possible toolkit. So, you have splurged on top-notch appliances and premier building materials. You have read up on all the latest home renovation trends and have studied the finer details of the current housing market.

But you do not even know how to swing a hammer.

Your focus was on all the bells and whistles, but you do not even have a grasp of the most straightforward concepts of craftsmanship.

Conversely, imagine that – instead of trying to DIY your renovation right out of the gate – you committed to learning how to hammer more efficiently.

Think about any professional handyman. They use hammers with such proficiency, pragmatism, and proliferation that it is likely responsible for cutting their work time, at least, in half. I am no building expert myself, so I am willing to bet that is a relatively conservative estimate.

That time you spend learning to hammer, alone, is going to help you far more than jumping headfirst into a project so big that failure is imminent.

Eventually, after spending time honing your hammering, you will gain the confidence to learn other essential basics. Potentially, you will put together a skill set that makes you far more likely to DIY your home renovation.

It is most definitely a more practical approach than trying to a fake a renovation until you make it.

Well, technology is very much the same.

Let me elaborate further:

Technologically Hammering

Okay, so let’s reconsider that home renovation project and how this metaphor relates to your technology as a lawyer.

Attempting to utilize the latest and greatest in tech without a good foundation for leveraging the most basic tools is like trying to do a home reno without knowing how to hammer.

What do I mean by “basic” tools?

Well, as a lawyer, your ‘hammers’ are your Word, Outlook, and case management system. You have likely been using them for years upon years. Yet, you have not taken the time to master the usage of these programs.

There is such an array of shortcuts and other efficiency tricks that these “basic” programs alone can be responsible for saving you hours every week.

Yes, eventually, once you know how to maximize those basics, you will have acquired the kind of savvy and skill-base required to leverage more advanced tools.

At the end of the day, you are not going to build a skyscraper if you can not make one of those little toolboxes, like you would during the first week of shop class.

Then it’s worth asking, what exactly is the tech version of the shop class?

Learning the Basics

Something that I somewhat hinted at in the section above is that while you might use those basic systems, you do not use them to your advantage.

It is crazy to think that you can be using Word, Outlook, and your case management software so frequently, without really knowing them.

One way to look at it is like a marriage. And in a way it is. You are bonded to these tools in your day-to-day, and the benefit you get from is wholly dependent on the effort you have put forth.

It is not necessarily about bells and whistles. You can not just throw money at extravagant gifts to keep the home fires burning. And you can not only pay for complex solutions and expect your productivity to improve—that is not how it works.

Really, what it comes down to is spending the time.

Not even that much time. Just enough to let your workplace tools know you care about them.

What Do I Mean By “Just Enough” Time?

Look, I want you to master the tools on your Mac more than anything in the world. I am a tech-minded guy and believe it is integral to your overall performance and productivity.

Yet, I am well-aware that you are a lawyer. And your efforts throughout the work week can not afford to be detracted by things that are not revolved around the law.

It is a delicate balance. The time spent on your technological productivity tools has to be a perfect complement to your workday, not a hindrance. But you still must put in the time.

So, I will ask you to try something:

List nine of your preferred features on either your Outlook, Word, or case management software.

Then, accept the fact that you just do not have the time to master all those features at once and choose only ONE of them.

Block off a half-hour block during your work week and get familiar with all that feature can offer. This can include Googling the feature and opening the help docs. You will be blown away at what you learn and how it can help you.

Eventually, you will build your knowledge base to a place where you master all nine features. Then you will add another nine. And suddenly you will have halved your workday.