Tech tools – there are so many of them at the moment and I certainly don’t consider myself to be a tech junkie but I am incredibly grateful for the time in which I live and the capacity through a mobile phone to run a business. When I started my law firm 10 years ago, the internet was around, email was a thing and Facebook was in existence, but none of those tools were really being used well in the legal business world. If I was starting my firm today it would look so different! All I would need is a mobile phone, an internet connection, insurance and a credit card and away I could go, at a start-up cost significantly less than what was required 10 years ago.
I look at the tech tools I use in my business today, most of which are free, and smile, with the pace with which we’re able to do things and the fun that is coming into business. Who would have thought that a lawyer would spend a good chunk of her day organising lists in Trello, colour coordinating images on Instagram and chatting with other lawyers and clients all around the country through Facebook.
So when it comes to business today, here are 9 of my favourite tech tools that I can’t live without, that I like to think save me time, (although I sometimes wonder if they haven’t just started to chew up more of my time in new and more visually addictive ways!)
- Dropbox – Dropbox is like my office server on tech drugs. It enables me to have my work wherever I am – on my phone, on my laptop, on my iPad – to log in externally, to save down millions of pictures, podcast files and videos, and not be concerned about shutting down the office server as I do! (I may have done that recently when uploading a podcast in the office…) Dropbox enables my team to share documents, to work collaboratively, to work remotely and really has been a game changer. Like so many of these great products, there is a free version available but I prefer to use the business plan that offers a bit more when it comes to security and a lot more when it comes to storage. Like all tech products, there may be security risks in using something like Dropbox that you should explore yourself but I have to say, Dropbox has made my remote office possible, particularly now that I am juggling a 12 week old baby.
- Trello – Trello is the online version of your brightly coloured To Do List, complete with personalised imagery. Trello is the ‘To Do List’ addict’s online dream, enabling you to take those To Do Lists with you and access them on your phone, laptop, iPad and any electronic device. And if ‘To Do Lists’ about ‘To Do Lists’ are not enough for you, you can share those lists with your colleagues to enable collaboration and delegation, and of course can personalise each list with a carefully selected bold coloured image to ensure a smile on your face each time you tick off those completed tasks. Don’t get me wrong – I still carry a notebook and pen but I do find Trello an amazing resource for creating, sharing and collaborating on bigger term projects.
- Canva – Canva is a graphic designer’s nightmare and a solo business owner’s dream. Canva has taken the most complex of graphic design software suites and converted them into something that even I, a lawyer, can use to create beautiful, simple graphics, ebooks, flyers, postcards (you name it – anything you need designed). The best thing for me about Canva is it’s an Australian made product that is taking the graphic design world by storm. It’s easy to use drag and drop interface will ensure that you can have perfect images for your social media accounts, for your website and for any other visual branding that you are trying to create. No more waiting and checking designs for hours on end, you can create it yourself right now. Canva again offers a great free product, but I prefer to use the business platform that again enables me to collaborate and share customised images and designs with other members of my team and upload our brand imagery and fonts. My only criticism of Canva is that their mobile phone product is clunky and it is something that you will really need to use on a desktop for the best results.
- Dictation software – Right now, I’m dictating this blog using the Olympus dictation app which I have to say has been a game changer for me in our firm. It enables me to send as a mp4 file my dictation file to my internal team, to an outsourced team or even direct to my clients. Right now I only have one hand through which to work as I hold my baby daughter with the other and dictation software has been a game changer, enabling me to work whilst holding her – the real life juggle. I’ve also found though sending audio files to colleagues and clients an incredibly powerful way of summarising what could otherwise be complex legal concepts or perhaps an idea I’ve had about a project we might be working on. When sending an advice to clients, I like to send a short audio file explaining the advice they’re about to receive in a more simplistic way, giving them the heads up about some of the complex parts, but also the encouraging them to organise to speak with me about the document in the coming days. I’ve had great feedback from clients that hearing that audio file and knowing in advance the complexity of what they’re about to read has made some of those moments of reading difficult documents just that bit easier. There’s no end of dictation software available now and there are even apps like rev.com where you can dictate and send your file immediately for transcribing. In the old days we used tapes and secretaries and I think even my administrative team are grateful to see the end of typing and the beginning of true customer service in their roles.
- MailChimp– Email Marketing tool MailChimp is another program I find myself logging into on a daily basis. MailChimp will enable you to communicate with clients, colleagues, partners and anyone really in a stylish, simple and ‘spam free’ way! MailChimp is a wonderfully simple CRM tool that even we non-tech lawyer types can easily navigate and it’s capabilities just keep growing. For those of you still dropping all those email addresses into the ‘BCC’ section in Outlook when you send a group email, MailChimp will be your new best friend!
- Calendly– Next time you are trying to find a time to meet a colleague, rather than sending 10 emails, use Calendly! Calendly is a product that enables you to share parts or all of your availability through your calendar with another person, enabling them to book times that suit them, without you engaging in that endless back and forth email or telephone chatter. In our team, we use Calendly for a number of different purposes – for clients to book appointments, I use it for podcast guests and colleagues to book times to speak with me, and also for lawyers to organise coaching session. Calendly is a great time saver, a great product and a simple way to enable people to secure appointments with you even when your office might otherwise be closed for business.
- WordPress– Oh what would life be without websites! WordPress is my web platform of choice and as a person who now runs more than 5 web platforms I have come to deeply love the way that I, a person who knows zero about coding, can create pages on a site each day with ease! WordPress is a platform that enables you to build beautiful websites at minimal cost if you are willing to spend a few hours learning how. And even if the idea of building a site from scratch makes you shiver, a WordPress platform, once built for you, will mean you (or someone in your team) can update and change your site with ease! WordPress have a wonderful community of tech nerds that have built ‘plugins’ for everything you could ever need for a website from SEO to membership packages so I encourage you to jump on a have a go!
- Facebook – Yes I know, it seems ridiculous that a social media platform known for sharing photos of friends, cats and other random YouTube clips is a key part of my business tech strategy. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t log into Facebook for business activity, both during what might be perceived as “work” hours but also after hours. Facebook enables us to build relationships with colleagues, with clients, in real time, at all hours. It is a personal platform and a powerful platform, and obviously one at the moment that is garnishing a lot of interest given the extent of the data that they hold. Facebook groups are a powerful platform for sharing information and building communities. Facebook for me has been a key business platform, enabling me to connect with lawyers all around the country through membership of an online community, The Club, but also clients and other partners through my platforms The Happy Family Lawyer and Happy Lawyer Happy Life. Yes, it could be a great time waster, but for me my online platforms are now one of the biggest drivers of business to my firm and something that I will continue to invest in.
- Instagram– Next to Facebook, Instagram, has become one of my daily favourite tech tools. Instagram is any visual addict’s online delight – a platform of beautiful staged and curated photographs – and again you might be thinking what on earth has Instagram got to do with the practice of law. On one level, perhaps nothing but on another Instagram enables relationships to be built through visual media with the sharing of imagery, behind the scenes and of course now through Instagram Stories, a daily real life insight into brands and business owners’ routines. Instagram is a beautiful platform and through it, I have again been able to form relationships with practitioners all over the world, many of which may not develop into business relationships but all of which provide me with joy each day and sometimes business should just be about fun.
They’re my top 9 tech tools that I can’t live without each day, and I know there are hundreds more. So tell me, what are your favourite tech tools that are getting you through the business day?
Hi, my name is Clarissa Rayward and I am probably best known as a Divorce Lawyer and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. I specialise in assisting my clients to experience a dignified divorce- staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future.
More recently I have begun to tackle the challenging issue of unhappiness in the legal profession through my weekly Podcast ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life‘ where once a week I interviews lawyers who have found a way to maintain a successful career in the law while not giving up their life outside of their career.
In January 2017 I published my second book, ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life- How to the be Happy in Law and Life’ and launched the first ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ online course, helping lawyers nationwide to better understand how they can drive happiness in their careers. I now spend my days juggling my new baby ‘Daisy’ while trying to run my business and coach and assist lawyers all around the Country (hence why tech tools are becoming my new best friends!)
If you would like to learn more about how I could help you through any legal matters associated with divorce and separation or perhaps you are a lawyer looking to learn more about the work I do in that space, then please feel free to organise a time we can speak here.Book your complimentary chat with Clarissa here
And if you are a lawyer like me looking to better find that integration in your life, my new Membership program ‘The Club’ might be for you!