Q&A with Chris Fortier author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Office Automation: Tools & Strategies to Improve Your Firm and Your Life

What is the main message of The Lawyer’s Guide to Office Automation: Tools & Strategies to Improve Your Firm and Your Life

Just try automation. Ultimately, you know your practice, your staff, and your clients so your path to automation will look different than what your colleagues have taken. However, we as a profession have been going down this road and in order to survive and serve the communities who need us, we need to incorporate automated solutions into our services.  For solos and small firms, it is a chance to scale up without having to hire (a whole other process within itself!).

Who is your book written for/ Who would get the most out of reading your book?

The book is written for the lawyer who is not sure where to go with starting or expanding their firm’s automation setup.  We go through the  process of planning and answering questions before going shopping. Then we show examples of what is available with screenshots and a step by step guide to show what your practice can be.

What inspired you to write this book?

I taught a workshop at TECHSHOW 2020 about online forms and intake. After I was asked to write a book on the topic, I did some research and found a lot of options that could assist law firms (and similar small businesses).  From there, I knew I had good material to write a book.  It turned into a personal project that became fun and interesting.

What experience, knowledge or special training helped you to write this book?

When I started working with young lawyers in my state, I saw that the membership involvement form was not friendly to getting people into the organization quickly. You had to download/print, fill out the form, save it, and then email or mail the paper form. Not efficient. So I turned the form into a Google Form and we ended up getting more people expressing interest in getting involved with our organization.  Everything went in an automation direction for me. Six years later, I was on the planning board and presenting at TECHSHOW. It has been a fun ride and I have enjoyed learning and teaching about automation.

What problem faced by lawyers does your book solve/address?

Many practices are loaded with work and need assistance with providing the right attention needed to provide the best representation possible. When you automate properly, you take the menial tasks, such as typing a name or address, and delegate those to a computer. You free yourself and future hires to do more of the work that needs a human to solve.

How is The Lawyer’s Guide to Office Automation different from other books written on this topic?

The book does not offer a one size fits all approach. Each practice has to examine what is right for them. I have seen lawyers offer their tech stacks for free, which is great, if you know how practice works and the tech stack is compatible. If you are drastically changing your workflows and processes, you need to think before you proceed. You have successes in your practice and they were no accident. The book guides you through ethical and cybersecurity obligations and the strategic and workflow planning to help you make shopping for solutions easier.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

Tech evolves. Programs premiere new features, companies merge or change names, obscure features go viral, anything and everything happens. There were times I had to rewrite sections of the book due to changes in programs. That is what happens when writing a tech book.

What do you think will surprise readers most about your book?

You would be surprised how many features in your current software packages that you may not be taking advantage of. The book devotes a good amount to features in Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. Those suites provide so much that you will not grasp everything when you get started.  Again, this book pushes you to examine to automate further. There are tasks that you are doing that can be spent doing other things.

What is the most important takeaway readers will get from your book?

The most important takeaway is that you can automate a process. You, your staff, and your clients can handle it. If you know your firm, how it operates, and where you want to take your firm in the future, you can automate your firm to better serve your clients.

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

You learn the publishing process firsthand if you have not written a book before. Have patience. The feeling of accomplishment at the end is real and is worth the effort.