Management Assistance Program
Automation Tools for Lawyers
By Jim Calloway
Director, OBA Management Assistance Program
Lawyers have long had a love-hate relationship with office technology. Lawyers love tech tools that save time (particularly on tasks not being billed to clients) and money. So, long ago word processing software tools that meant not having to retype an entire document to edit it were instantly adopted by law firms and often the reason for the purchase of the first law office computers.
In the same way that word processors replaced typewriters, today’s technology tools can automate many office processes. Here’s a simple and easy-to-accomplish example. Most law firms today send out more emails than traditional correspondence. It is fine to use email casually with friends. But today’s lawyers do not want to send out professional emails with typos and misspellings. You can set up Outlook to do one last automated spellcheck on every email. See How to Force Outlook to Spellcheck Emails Before They’re Sent from How-To Geek.
Microsoft 365 users have an automation tool called Power Automate (formerly known as Flow). Microsoft has published a series of videos on getting started with the Power Automate Desktop. These demonstrate how one can develop these automated processes by recording rather than traditional programming. That makes automation easier, but not exactly a lawyer’s version of easy. But once set up, these flows automatically save time and frustration every day.
Shortcuts are automation tools for iPhones and iPads. See How to Create Automations on an iPhone or iPad.