Older Lawyers Have an Edge in the Age of the Smartphone

27th October 1960: A Munich secretary simultaneously typing and making a phone call with the aid of the Beoton telephone amplifier. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Chad Burton has given up his laptop and his iPad and now works exclusively from his iPhone. He manages software and consulting firm for lawyers with it. On a recent podcast, two lawyers discussed whether they could travel with just a phone and still get their work done. The debate for them came down to whether they needed a tablet and phone or just a phone. I noticed that the computer was not really a part of the discussion.

The interesting insight is that I took away from both pieces is that older lawyers may have an edge when it comes to working with minimal technology. Older lawyers developed the skills to compose by voice. And now, between Siri and Dragon Anywhere, lawyers with dictation skills can get work done without much infrastructure.

Long ago, when I was a high school student working at a law firm (1988), I can remember that the paralegals had computers but lawyers didn’t. The lawyers composed into a dictaphone or a microcassette recorder. And the paralegals typed it all up. When I was in law school and working in various law offices, the lawyers and paralegals both had computers. And I had my choice. I could type everything myself, and I could dictate. I had a foot in both worlds. It is a rare office now where lawyers dictate for others to transcribe. Though dictation is alive and well in medicine.

Now, things have both advanced and come full circle. It is possible to compose by dictating but without the need for staff. The software on a smartphone does the work of the 1988-era paralegal. But for a generation of lawyers trained to compose on the keyboard, dictation is a skill not yet learned.

The irony is that you could likely cut out a great deal of overhead in your office if you embraced some old-school legal skills that once required a large staff to support. And it may be dependence on desks and desktop computers that is driving up your costs.

Latest Resources

The Advocate's Key - A Law Podcast

Three Lessons From My Legal Podcast

The Advocate’s Key, my podcast, is as much for me as it is for the audience who listens to it. I choose guests because I want to learn from them or because I’m curious about their story.
Read More
mcdonough slip and fall accident

McDonough Man Injured in Slip and Fall Accident

Drew had been looking forward to Friday all week until he slipped and fell while walking. Who's fault was it?
Read More
how to prepare for a legal deposition

How to Prepare For a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case

Six months ago, you were in a car accident on Macon Street in McDonough. Another vehicle struck you from behind, and since then you have suffered from excruciating back pain. Today, you received a notice of deposition – what does that mean?
Read More