The One Man Band, once a fascinating and sometimes comedic vignette, is a concept that seems to have faded with technological advances music production. Most will remember Dick Van Dyke’s depiction of such a character in the Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. Bert the Pavement Artist had a harmonica, a trumpet, an accordion, a snare, a [...]
The One Man Band, once a fascinating and sometimes comedic vignette, is a concept that seems to have faded with technological advances music production. Most will remember Dick Van Dyke’s depiction of such a character in the Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. Bert the Pavement Artist had a harmonica, a trumpet, an accordion, a snare, a set of “knee” symbols, a bass drum, a warning horn, a tambourine and high hat symbols–all suspended around his torso. Plus, the man could sing!
The image of a One Man Band comes to my mind when I tell other lawyers how I manage my solo law practice without any assistants or clerks or even a phone answering service. But rather than having musical instruments hanging around my torso, I have the most advanced technology surrounding me, allowing me to perform every feat that much more amply resourced lawyers and law firms can perform. What’s even better is that most of my office functionality fits in my pocket as apps or websites on my smart phone. Here’s a quick summary of the technological instruments that allow me to be a modern-day One Man Band.
The heart of my operation is a wireless laptop. Although many of the programs I use are mobile and can be accessed on a smart phone, I often prefer the full keyboard for data entry and the larger screen to better view my data. The two most vital appendages to my laptop are: a high-speed, paper-fed scanner with optical character recognition software; and a high speed color laser printer. With these two devices, I get the same professional looking documents that a larger operation pays big bucks for.
Any computer is only as valuable as the software it runs. I use cloud-based software to perform firm management, time and billing, docket management, contact management, document management and bookkeeping. I also use remote back-up software. These back-ups already came in handy when I unexpectedly had to migrate to a new computer. I just restored the back-up to the new laptop and I was ready to go with all my old data in minutes, not hours. The remote back-up solution also makes crisis management a cinch–if your office is destroyed or even just inaccessible for a while, you can use such a solution to restore operations quickly, anywhere with an internet connection. Also, I don’t need a fax machine because of a web-based fax solution that sends faxes I receive as an email to my inbox in Portable Document Format (PDF), which I can easily print or file away electronically.
If the laptop is the heart of the operation, my smart phone is the brains. It is the closest thing I have to a person I can turn to for answers, whether I’m in court, at the law library, walking down the sidewalk, or having lunch with a client. What’s more, I use web-based telephone numbers to route calls from local numbers to my cell phone. I use several phone numbers for my business obtained this way, and the web-based telephone service allows me to track which calls came from where–a great way to measure the success of any marketing campaign. These same services offer voice recognition with voice mail and will email me the text of a client’s voicemail making it much easier to see if a matter is urgent when I’m in a situation when I cannot answer the phone or listen to my voicemail directly. This solution is better than an answering service, and it costs nothing.
Using all of these tools, which for the most part I can carry with me wherever I go, I can be a receptionist, a typist, a law clerk, a paralegal, a bookkeeper, an IT guy, a marketing manager and a lawyer all in a day’s work. One can now use advanced technology to create the sounds of a band from a single computer, making the compact, twisted mechanics of a bygone era obsolete. Yet that same technological progress has allowed me to wear as many hats as it once took a robust workforce to accomplish. You too can become the lawyer’s equivalent of a One Man Band with the right technology at your side.