How To Master The 80/20 Principle in LegalTech

Tom Lambotte

Technology is the major catalytic force in most professions worldwide today. Whether you’re a lawyer, doctor or a teacher, chances are you use technology on a daily basis to make your life easier and your work more productive. 

I’ve written and spoken a lot on the role technology plays in the day-to-day operation of a law firm (i.e this guide on how to start a Mac law firm.)  

Using technology and under-utilizing technology are two very different states. You could have access to all the latest software solutions and technology - but are you truly getting the most out of them? This is where I like to talk about the 80-20 Rule or the Pareto principle: 20 percent of your activity is accountable for 80 percent of your results.  

Now, it doesn’t have to be 80-20, it can also be 90-10 or 85-15.  

Did you know that Warren Buffet can trace 90% of his wealth from only 10 investments? Or the fact that Apple sells only 20% of the world’s smartphones but reaps 92% of the profits?  

So, how do you apply this principle to LegalTech and to make a breakthrough in leveraging technology within your law practice?  

You Don’t Need To KNOW Tech To Use It

You don’t need to be a tech-wiz or a tech expert to increase your leverage on your technology. Nor do you need to spend thousands of dollars on legal/tech consultants either. Try working with the software you already have in place rather than upgrading time and again and spending all that time learning and unlearning software.  

Don’t Horde Tech

We’re all guilty of hoarding tech — so am I. You don’t need the latest software, the latest and swankiest software or the latest plug-in. Many attorneys are guilty of doing this - jumping from one shiny gadget to another. Signing up for the latest chatbot or Clio API plugin everyone is raving about. While doing so, they ignore the top 20% of apps that they have access to and actually use 80% of their time. Along with it, they also miss out on the 80% of the potential that continues to remain dormant. This translates to a simple fact that 20% of your software stack is responsible for 80% of results in your law firm. 20% of apps are what end up being used 80% of the time. This is a phenomenon you can notice in your personal life as well. Just off the top of your head, think of the apps that you use daily. Now open your phone and count how many apps are installed. The same principle exists for your law practice.  

How Do You Optimize Your Technology to GET more out of it?

The very first step is to identify the top 20% of your apps. Figure out the apps you use the most and that are most beneficial to your practice. This will lay a solid groundwork when you move on to optimizing legaltech the right way and declutter yourself from distracting tools. Digging deeper, start by making a list. At first, you may think you don’t have that many. In our workshops, most users get an average of 30. Next, prioritize the top 20% of those. With 30, that would mean circle the top 6 that make the biggest impact in your practice. THAT is where you should spend your time. For a different perspective, let’s touch on features. It is quite safe to estimate most apps have, at a bare minimum, 10 features. (I know it’s FAR more than that, but I’m being conservative for a reason.) Your list of 30 apps with 10 features, gives you an extremely conservative of having 300+ features to learn and implement! Now you might be thinking that 300 features is a ridiculous number to master and you’re right, it is. This is the stage where you define the vital features that make the most difference in your law practice - break apps down and think of them in terms of their essential features. After shortlisting the 20%, in this case it would be 6 applications, you have to analyze their features and pick the 3 which are the most beneficial and impactful to you and your firm. Focusing your energy on these apps and features will result in a more productive workflow. If I take the example of case management software, most lawyers end up using them as a very expensive Rolodex. Most people carry a lost of tech-guilt, wherein they know they could be doing so much more but they don’t. Here’s my challenge for you to overcome this: Pick one feature, yes, just 1 feature that would move the needle for you from the top 3 applications and learn how to use and implement it. Schedule a meeting within your team and learn it with them. Doing this once a week or once a month will help you stay productive, encourage cohesive learning within your practice and help you make the most of legaltech. How many lawyers ever do this? Very few, instead, they do what you likely do. Keep looking for that new app that will make everything better. That will simplify their workflow. That will let them get more done faster. The truth is, the solution they are looking for is already IN the solutions they use. They just lack a focused, intentional approach to setting clear priorities. All it takes is selecting the top 20% of your tech, defining their most beneficial features (for YOU), selecting them one by one and taking some time to learn and implement them. Whether you’re a solo lawyer or a small law firm, this will benefit you without having to worry about spending money on apps or consultations. Good luck!  

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Tom Lambotte

About the Author

Tom Lambotte is the Creator of the Optimize Method and CEO of GlobalMacIT, a national Managed Service Provider providing complete end-to end legal technology services to Mac-Based law firms. They provide leadership and direction to transform law firm operations and boost profits by leveraging technology. Tom’s methods are based on over a decade of research, testing and real-world refinement of best practices, working directly with solo and small firms providing strategies and support to mproving their use of technology..  

Tom is the ABA published author of Macs in Law: the Definitive Guide for the Mac-Curious, Windows-using Attorney. His 2 other books are Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation and Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms. He is a highly sought after speaker at national events such as the ABA Techshow and MacTrack Legal.