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Author Spotlight: Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide Book

Learn more about the ABA Law Practice Division’s new book titles and their authors! You can find all of the Division’s books in the four core areas of management, marketing, finance, and of course, technology, here.

Authors: Sharon Nelson, John Simek and Michael Maschke 

What is the main message of The 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide?

If we had to break it down to one message, it would be this: There are way too many vendors competing for law firm monies. Separating the hype from the reality is really hard if you are not a technologist. So we take a limited number of known legal technology solutions and try to give lawyers a few (but not too many) recommendations based on what we see working well in solo and small firms. We also try to tell lawyers what differentiates the products in features and dollars to save them time in making decisions.

What inspired you to write this book?

Even when we started writing these Guides more than a decade ago, there was no single annual source like this book. Also, too many lawyers were relying on “pay to play” sites which recommended technology—we whole-heartedly encourage lawyers to stay away from the “pay to play” listings. The sad part is that such sites are often not transparent and the lawyers have no idea that they are reviewing paid recommendations.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

Staying current! Legal tech changes day by day. We all read legal tech articles voraciously, but it is impossible for anyone to know everything as it happens. Each year, we begin writing in August with our draft due in October. By the time we review the final version of the book, all kinds of things have to be updated. Most subjects in the book stay pretty current throughout the year (the primary exception are the specifications for specific computers, laptops, etc.—for that reason, we do offer free updated specifications via email upon request to anyone who buys the book) and we are very faithful about delivering them.

What do you think will surprise readers the most?

Some of them will be surprised by vendors/products they do not see. There is a reason for that—we don’t want to recommend something that we haven’t thoroughly vetted and seen work well for solo and small firms. New entrants to the marketplace will need a little time to prove themselves before we will consider including them in the book.

What is the most important takeaway readers will get?

We hope that they will understand that there are “best of breed” products with a “sweet spot” price for solo and small firm lawyers. They just need to learn about those products from a source they trust.

What advice would you give to others who want to write a book for the Law Practice Division?

If you think you have the knowledge and talent to write a book on a law practice management topic, go for it. It enhances your reputation and often gets you invitations to write articles or give CLEs. It is also a great way to give back to your profession. Between the three of us, we are co-authors of 17 books published by the ABA—once we started, we never looked back.

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