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  • InsideTrack
  • September 02, 2020

    Basic Technology for Your Solo or Small Firm

    Sept. 2, 2020 – If you are a solo or small firm attorney, you understand how technology can create efficiencies in your law practice. But do you understand how to implement the technology? Is there technology you could be using that you don’t know about?

    At the upcoming Virtual Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (WSSFC), Oct. 28-30, two whole tracks of CLE programming is dedicated to technology and practice management. One of the sessions, Basic Technology You’ll Need to Set Up Your Law Practice, is a foundational session to help lawyers understand basic technology needs.

    Recently, the panelists provided an overview of topics they’ll be highlighting on day two of the WSSFC. Solo lawyer Bryan Sims, a longtime WSSFC speaker and technology guru, will focus a lot on hardware – the basic components of the law office set up.

    “My basic philosophy is that you should be running your computer off of a laptop or other portable-like device,” Sims said. “But that doesn’t mean you are limited to just that device and its components. It’s important to add other peripherals.”

    That would include external keyboards and additional monitors. “You can really getting working computing done, and you are not just limited to the small screen or cramped keyboard,” Sims said.” You can also add things like desktop scanners.”

    Once your basic hardware is in place, how do you choose what software to run? That may depend on your specific practice areas, but small firm attorney Stephanie Melnick says practice management software is her firm’s bread and butter.

    Her firm, Melnick & Melnick, S.C., uses Clio practice management software. She notes that State Bar of Wisconsin members can run Clio subscriptions at a discount.

    “We also use Microsoft 365, which is amazing because so many of those are cloud-based options,” she said. “In fact we moved all of our stuff to the cloud in January.” That made the transition to remote work that much easier when the pandemic hit.

    Melnick will also discuss “life-changing” software that deals with password management, as well as the latest technology on portable document files (PDFs).

    Christopher Shattuck, law office management advisor at the State Bar of Wisconsin (Practice 411™ program), will also talk about credit card processing, voice over internet protocol, text messaging, email encryption, online marketing tools, and remote access.

    He will also discuss that State Bar of Wisconsin member benefits and discounts available to State Bar members.

    “The overall theme, if you are starting your own practice or looking to expand different services, take a look at your current offerings,” Shattuck said.

    “Determine what you will get the best value for, or what will be good for your firm, and then make a decision on pricing.” At the end of the day, he noted, only pay for what you need and avoid duplication with software that offers the same or similar services.

    More on the 2020 Virtual WSSFC, Oct. 28-30

    2020 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference

    The 2020 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (WSSFC) is coming to your computer Oct. 28-30.

    WSSFC will be a virtual conference – and will have all the events that make the conference a great one for Wisconsin’s solo and small-firm lawyers.

    Attendees will be able to attend CLE and plenary sessions, browse and meet with exhibitors in the vendor hall, network with colleagues, have a private conversation with a speaker, and enter for a chance to win prizes – all while social distancing at work or home.

    Plus, you’ll save on the expense of a hotel and travel and meals away from home.

    Attend the Conference – At Home or Office

    This conference “is my favorite conference and the most important conference each year for solo and small-firm attorneys,” says State Bar President Kathy Brost, who has been involved with organizing the conference for going on 10 years.

    “While it is virtual this year, this conference is full of practical tips and techniques that will help you both practice law successfully in the age of COVID 19 and enjoy life.”

    The schedule continues its tradition of four separate CLE tracks: Substantive Law, Practice Management, Technology, and Quality of Life/Ethics.

    The conference will be the debut of the State Bar Professional Development Department’s new and extremely versatile virtual platform.

    “We’re lifting the curtain on a new model of learning. We’ve been experimenting with this new technology,” says Theresa Elliott, Director of the State Bar of Wisconsin Professional Development Department. “This conference is a great opportunity to premiere it.”

    At the Virtual Conference

    While details will be announced at a later time, Elliott says that attendees can easily engage with speakers and colleagues throughout the conference.

    You can browse the vendor hall and grab information from the vendors to put in your personal virtual "brief case." You will also be able to share business cards and other information with colleagues. The electronic brief case will be available after the conference.

    But what about that great vendor swag characteristic of the Solo & Small Firm Conference? “No worries, our team is working on different and creative ways to make sure our attendees get the takeaway gifts they are accustomed to finding at the conference,” Elliott said.

    For more information, visit the conference website on

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