by Heather Hale
At 7:30 a.m. I walk into an empty office. There are no paralegals, senior partners or associates. It isn’t a holiday or the weekend, just a typical Tuesday for a solo practitioner. The idea of going it alone can be daunting to newly minted lawyers, and rightly so. There is no one to provide guidance and oversight, no one to answer the phone while you meet with a client, not even someone to make a Starbucks run. With my iPad, however, solo doesn’t feel so isolated to me, although I do still have to get my own coffee.
As I settle into my desk I take my iPad from my bag, turn it on and begin to review my carefully color-coded calendar for today. Excellent – my first appointment isn’t until mid morning, plenty of time to work on my Keynote presentation for an upcoming talk on deferred action I’m giving at the community center next week. I pinch and swipe until each slide looks perfect.
Then suddenly it’s 10:00 a.m. and my client has arrived. During the hour long consultation I scan her client intake form using Genius Scan, take notes using Evernote, adjust the retainer agreement in Pages to reflect the payment option she’s chosen, have her sign it in Adobe Reader and e-mail a copy to her.
After two more similar consultations it’s time for lunch and time to shift my focus toward managing the company rather than the clients. Growing my small, Georgia immigration practice is usually the largest part of my day. I organize today’s paperwork into new client files in EverReaderPro and put a few documents into Dropbox to review at home later this evening. I use Mint to keep track of all my budget categories and Cardmunch to update my networking contacts. There’s even some time spent on Twitter.
It’s now 3:30 p.m. and I have an Atlanta Bar Association International and Immigration Law Section executive board meeting. I serve as secretary/treasurer for the group, and like several other board members, will attend via GoToMeeting. It’s really about the only way we can coordinate our busy schedules. Half way through I realize I’ve forgotten to forward this month’s financial statement to everyone, and do so quickly with Dropbox and Mail coming to my rescue once again. The mistake goes unnoticed and we adjourn at 5:00 p.m., just in time for me to gather my bag and iPad and head off for a State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division social at a local restaurant.
I arrive home around 8:00 p.m. There are files to review, calendars to update, and reminders to check-off the list. The task of being an effective lawyer and an effective business manager is not easy, but certainly it is made simpler by my sleek and shiny personal assistant. Somehow I’ve made it through another day keeping track of my clients, my colleagues, and my company. Thanks to my iPad I’ll make it through tomorrow too, and the whole rest of my first year in practice. I can stay connected, organize my office, attend CLE’s, do legal research, and keep my sanity with the help of one device.
Being solo can still feel lonely sometimes, but with my iPad I’m never really alone. Now, if Siri could only get coffee.