Tools of the Trade
Attorney's Toolbox Paralegal's Toolbox Legal Secretary's Toolbox Contact Us
Computer Proficiency
Online Legal Research
Workflow Efficiency
Professional Development
Client Development
Knowledge Management
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Computers and the Practice of Law :
Tools of the Trade

A law firm is in the business of collecting data, processing information and disseminating knowledge. Unfortunately, many small to mid-sized law firms find themselves being buried in paper, drowned in data and experiencing analysis paralysis because of information overload. Many legal professionals identify the computer as the cause for this inefficiency. A computer is merely a toolbox. If it is being used inefficiently, it means that the tools are being used incorrectly. Word processing, document assembly and case management software are to legal professionals as a hammer, saw and screwdriver are to a carpenter. In and of themselves, these tools do nothing. But in the hands of skilled professionals they are indispensable in getting the job done. It is imperative that legal professionals master the tools of their trade.


Law firm efficiency is achieved when lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries learn to use the computer more proficiently. They must first hone their skills with these software tools and then utilize them to create a more efficient work flow and effectively manage the firm's legal knowledge.

Knowledge is power, but only when it can be accessed, retrieved, and utilized when needed.

Computer Proficiency:

Many legal professionals use the computer as if it were a typewriter. Thus, workflow efficiency cannot be achieved until basic skills are learned or reinforced. For example, legal professionals must understand:

  • File management is the foundation of computing
  • Word processing is not typing
  • WordPerfect or Word
  • Windows Basics
  • Document Assembly Basics
  • Case Management Basics
  • Document Management Basics

Online Legal Research:

When conducting legal online research, legal professionals must know the following:

  • The difference between a search engine and a portal
  • Perform an implied Boolean search in a search engine such as
  • Utilize legal search engines and legal portals
  • Conduct Boolean searches using Lexis or Westlaw
  • Analyze a web site to judge its authenticity and its reliability
  • Preserve web sites of interest for later use
  • Utilize e-mail efficiently

Workflow Efficiency:

Once the legal professional has a solid foundation of the computer basics and is proficient in both its use and in conducting legal online research, then the workflow must be managed. This will include the following skills: understand:

  • Setting up your e-mail system to screen out the email that is important from those that are junk
  • Integrate the word processing software with the document assembly software and the case management software to create documents using information about a client already entered into the computer
  • Create processes and systems so that your work flows in the firm from those who collect data to those that process information to those that disseminate knowledge


Additional Tools for Thought

Once you have mastered the tools to collect data and process information, the computer must then be used to disseminate knowledge. Legal knowledge management (LKM) is the process of managing the firms most important business asset, its knowledge. Whether it is taking professional development courses online, creating a web site to attract new clients or keep old ones up to date, creating best practice documents or checklists to handle a type of case, knowledge management encompasses this process. This site will provide courses on the use of several software programs used in legal knowledge management, but for attorneys looking to really understand the process should go to, for a more comprehensive site dedicated to LKM.


Attorney's Toolbox

The Attorney’s Toolbox is a list of software tools and courses to show attorneys, especially in small to mid-sized law firms, how to use the computer to research data, access information, and when it is efficient to do so, produce their own work product. The Attorney's Toolbox will also provide useful information on how law firms can manage its primary business asset, their legal knowledge.

Paralegal's Toolbox

The Paralegal's Toolbox is a list of software tools used most often in small to mid-sized law firms, and will also offer online paralegal courses in their use. It will enable a them to take a paralegal class online, so they can hone their skills while mastering the use of selected software programs and online legal research web sites.

Legal Secretary's Toolbox
The Legal Secretary's Toolbox is a list of software tools used most often by legal secretaries in small to mid-sized law firms, and it will also offer online courses in their use. It will enable legal secretaries to take an online computer class, so they can hone their skills and master the use of selected software programs.