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Best Practice: Getting law firm partners to embrace technology

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of an 8-attorney general practice firm located in Charleston, South Carolina. We have done a pretty good job of investing in technology. I am having problems getting our older partners to personally use the technology and this has resulted is our attorney staff ratios and resulting overhead to be higher than it should be. They seem to think that doing their own work is beneath them and want to have their own personal assistants. I would appreciate any thoughts that you have on the matter.

A. Few firms can afford the luxury of each attorney having their own secretary/assistant. The economics no longer support such staffing. Many firms today are operating with much leaner attorney/staff ratios - typically two to three attorneys for each secretary/assistant - some firms have four attorneys to each secretary/assistant. I suggest you build the economic case, encourage, train, and motivate these partners to learn how to use and to actually use the technology and if all else fails offset the economic impact as a direct charge against their compensation.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC,( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on February 27, 2014 by Chris Bonjean
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