Technology and Other Reasons to Hire a Boutique Law Firm
In the not too recent past, the large firm had several advantages: 1) It could afford a large library and the staff needed to keep the library up to date by inserting pocket parts, adding and deleting pages in loose leaf services, and ordering updated copies of the books and materials. 2) It had better technology from document retrieval to word processing allowing superior response time. 3) Its lawyers often had more in-depth experience in the law due to the availability of superior resources and greater numbers. The downside was extravagant bills.
But that was then. Times have changed. Technology has provided law firms, regardless of size, with solutions that have leveled the field. Any firm can have complete electronic libraries and research facilities online through the Internet. There are many new software and hardware solutions that increase productivity and reduce cost. Now the question you should ask your law firm is what technology it has adopted, what experience it has, and how it controls the cost of legal services. Tollefsen Law scores well in all three areas.
Cases in the Press Handled by Tollefsen Law
Reasons to Hire Boutique Law Firms
If you hire a technologically savvy, experienced smaller law firm, you can have the former exclusive advantages of large law firms at lower cost and better service. At the right small firm, you can be assured of partner-level experience along with efficiencies often not found in large law firms. Here is a partial list of what you need to ask to evaluate a law firm:
1) Does the firm subscribe to a fixed cost online electronic library so that it does not charge clients access fees for routine legal research? Many firms still charge hourly fees for accessing online libraries in addition to the hourly charge of the researcher.
2) Does its fixed fee electronic library subscription include all state and federal cases and statutes? If not you will probably be charged access fees.
3) Does the firm have comprehensive practice management software that tracks all communication connected to your file (email, telephone, fax, and postal mail) as well as calendaring, documents, and contacts? There are several software solutions available to law firms. If a firm has not made an investment in practice management software, it is likely that the firm has not made a commitment to increase its productivity to reduce costs for clients. It is also more likely that something important to your legal affairs will be overlooked.
4) Has the firm purchased automatic OCR and scanning software that allows it to manage production of discovery requests and productions? If not, it is likely that your costs will increase due to inefficient document management procedures. Discovery is usually the most expensive phase of a case. Software is available which makes it easy to create paperless offices which provide flexible and inexpensive tracking and management of all documents connected to your case.
5) Does the firm have case management software? If not, it is likely that complex cases will be more expensive. In addition, the likelihood that an issue will be overlooked increases. Case management software is used in many federal investigations and cases to provide better issue management, better chronologies, and better courtroom exhibits.
6) Does the firm minimize its office rent and allow its staff and attorney to work virtually from home or does it continue to incur high costs in expensive downtown offices?
Tollefsen Law PLLC is a Leader in Law Office Technology.
Tollefsen Law is a “paperless office.” Documents are scanned and filed electronically. All cases are managed electronically allowing staff to access complete information from any computer any place in the world. Potential evidence is managed by computers and electronically identified with appropriate issues in the case. Declarations, timelines, and trial exhibits become easy to produce and the chance that evidence or arguments are missed is reduced. In addition to in-house resources, Tollefsen Law has searchable access to all state and federal law and cases. It has thousands of treatises and law journals at its disposal. These services are part of TL overhead and are not charged to clients except in extraordinary circumstances and with prior client approval.
Tollefsen Law has state of the art communication equipment including forwarding voice mail by email and forwarding faxes through its fax servers by email to its staff. Staff have IP extension phones in their homes to offer maximum telephone availability. The firm uses a national SIP phone network. Clients are not charged for long distance calls in the United States or Canada.
The following is a partial list of software installed on Tollefsen Law servers: Amicus Attorney Professional/Billing Premium Edition, Master File, Evidence Cruncher, Lotus Notes database, MS Sequel Server, MS Terminal Server, Adobe Acrobat Professional, MS Exchange, and MS Office 2010 Enterprise Edition. Tollefsen Law uses Lexis-Nexis, Loislaw, and other vendors for research services. (The names listed in this paragraph are trademarks and service marks of their respective owners).
Comparing Tollefsen Law with a Large Firm.
Tollefsen Law has the following advantages over a large firm: 1) We offer personal attention from our senior staff. You will not see your case shuffled off to a junior associate without your express authorization. 2) Every staff member has complete access by computer terminal to all your records including everything done in your file from phone call summaries to pleadings. 3) Our policy is to avoid charges for “extras” like long distance services and on-line research time. We consider most third party expenses (other than court fees and significant duplication charges) to be part of our overhead part of our hourly fees. 4) We have carefully pared our overhead to minimize our costs. We do not try to impress you with expensive offices and furniture. 5) Our hourly fees are 40-50% lower than similarly experienced professionals in large cities. 6) We have no minimum billing requirement reducing the pressure to create large bills. 7) Our lower fees and overhead allow us to take cases we want, not cases we need to pay overhead. 8) We focus on discovery that is really needed to prove the issues rather than conducting expensive “scorched earth” discovery. 9) We have several lawyers with over thirty years of legal experience in business law and litigation. 10) We are committed to increasing productivity and reducing costs for legal services.
To be fair, we must disclose our weaknesses compared to large firms. Tollefsen Law has the following disadvantages compared to large law firms: 1) We do not have as many people to assign to a file. We solve this problem by adding outside counsel as needed. 2) Since we are smaller in number, we may not have experience in every legal issue. We solve this by diligent preparation after full disclosure to the client.
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