Legal Assistant Tech Course is an online video course which teaches legal assistants specific ways to use computer hardware and software to excel in legal practice. The learning objectives include teaching specific ways to accomplish practical goals including:
These are IT-based time and practice management solutions that are specifically designed for legal assistants by a lawyer who was in private practice and was a co-managing partner of a firm.
B.A. (Hons.), J.D.
Sean Dillman is a lawyer (non-practicing) in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He was called to the British Columbia bar in 2016.
Since being called to the bar, he worked as a barrister and solicitor, mostly practicing in estate and incapacity planning, real estate conveyancing (residential and commercial), estate and probate administration, and company, corporate, and commercial law.
In 2018, he opened a law firm with a partner where he continued his practice and was a co-managing partner.
Sean completed his J.D. at the University of Victoria. Before attending law school, he completed his B.A. at York University, graduating summa cum laude. Before starting on the path to law, he attended college to study computers and worked as a web-developer and a technician for IBM.
Introduces the presenter, Sean Dillman, and examines the goals of the course including teaching legal assistants improved ways to use hardware and software to help manage legal work and complete tasks more quickly and with greater accuracy. Discusses the technical background of the presenter and his experience using computer know-how to excel in his undergraduate and law degree studies, and in his legal career which led to him being a co-managing partner of a law firm. Discusses the process of working smarter, not only harder, and using different techniques and practices which are the subject of the course. Explores the structure of the course and its lessons. Explains the motivation behind the course and why it is so important for legal assistants to improve their technology skills.
Introduces legal assistants to computer hardware, what is included, and which pieces are of importance in legal practice. Warns that it is the responsibility of legal assistants to consult with physician to ensure that they do not cause or exacerbate any health condition or injury by implementing any new computer hardware.
Introduces standing desks for legal assistants and discusses different types and different options to suit different needs, budgets, and law offices, including brick-and-mortar and home offices. Explores how to place computer equipment when using standing desk (fixed or sit-stand) to facilitate in-person meetings with clients and colleagues. Discusses potential benefits to legal assistants and importance of maintaining proper posture and body positioning. Offers ways to make it easier for legal assistants to start using and become accustomed to using a standing desk and offers ways that seasoned users can improve their experience.
Introduces legal assistants to ergonomic keyboards. Explores the benefits of using ergonomic keyboards and how they can uncover and resolve typing related deficiencies. Discusses potential hazards of long-term typing and the basics of proper typing technique and posture. Suggests how certain types of mounting equipment can make it easier to adhere to recommended best-practices. Makes recommendations on how legal assistants can start, install, and become accustomed to ergonomic keyboards.
Introduces legal assistants to performance mice. Discusses how performance mice are distinct from traditional mice. Provides overview of how mouse technology has advanced in past years and explores specific improvements that are of particular use to legal assistants including advanced features which can assist with navigating and managing legal documents. Offers ways for legal assistants to start using performance mice and what features to look for.
Introduces legal assistants to using multiple monitors and the important role that they play in completing legal work efficiently. Discusses best practices for placing and orienting monitors in a workspace, dividing screens into sections, and dedicating particular screens for specific applications and functions. Explores why using multiple monitors to view applications simultaneously is better than using one monitor and repeatedly switching between applications, particularly with respect to legal documents. Discusses basics of proper viewing posture and monitor placement. Offers ways for legal assistants to start using multiple monitors, in consideration of cost, space, and existing hardware, how to use custom monitor software, and the importance of observing personal preferences.
Introduces legal assistants to desktop scanners (multi-page document feed scanners) and explores how they are distinct from traditional flatbed scanners. Discusses best practices for digitizing documents to view, create, manage, search, and navigate files. Explores advantages to using a desktop scanner (including accessibility, functionality, and security), specific features, and particular uses which are specific to legal assistants. Offers ways for legal assistants to start with a desktop scanner, in consideration of cost, space, and existing hardware, and particular features, settings, and ways to configure including sharing scanned documents with colleagues and co-workers. Explores ways to use desktop scanners as part of an office-wide digital document policy. Suggests best practices for creating and managing digital documents.
Introduces legal assistants to using smartphones as part of legal practice. Explores features of smartphones that are most pertinent for legal assistants as well as some of the most useful apps and advantages to using a smartphone (including affordability, portability, accessibility, functionality, and versatility), specific features, and particular uses which are specific to legal assistants. Suggests rules for legal assistants to follow and boundaries to set to control client relations and maximize utility of using a smartphone while minimizing potential for distraction, workload burnout, and information overload.
Introduces legal assistants to using headsets in legal practice. Explores features of headsets that are most pertinent for legal assistants and advantages to using a headset (including affordability, portability, accessibility, functionality, and versatility), specific features, and particular uses which are specific to legal assistants including reviewing text, memorizing information, and drafting documents. Offers ways for legal assistants to start using headsets and different feature options. Discusses VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and increased potential for seamless work in a remote/virtual environment. Explores value of wireless headsets when used in an office and increased opportunities for multitasking.
Introduces legal assistants to using fingerprint readers on devices (mobile and non-mobile). Explores features of fingerprint readers that are most important for legal assistants and advantages to using them (including security, affordability, portability, and ease of installation and use). Warns of potential pitfalls when using fingerprint readers. Discusses how legal assistants can get started using fingerprint readers, advantages over other biometric access technology, and potential for use as part of an office-wide security policy.
Introduces legal assistants to computer software, what is included, and which types are of particular importance in legal practice including operating systems, applications, and programs that run via internet and network technology (including web and cloud computing). Warns of potential unintended effects if directions are not followed correctly. Discusses applicability to major platforms and importance of considering versions and potential to upgrade.
Introduces legal assistants to text-to-speech software. Discusses purpose and utility which is of particular importance for legal assistants including proofing documents, detecting typos and other grammatical problems, increasing concision, and assisting with processing and memorizing information. Demonstrates how to use text-to-speech software using popular applications based on practical, practice-inspired situations. Illustrates examples of how text-to-speech software detects drafting errors which escape traditional spellcheck software. Explores how widespread use of text-to-speech software can increase quality of work on an organizational level.
Introduces legal assistants to speech-to-text software. Discusses purpose and utility which is of particular importance in legal practice. Demonstrates how to use speech-to-text software using popular applications and practical, practice-inspired examples. Warns of potential ethical concerns regarding protecting client data. Illustrates how to use speech-to-text software using popular applications, offers different options, and suggests practical ways to use including drafting post-meeting memos and producing first drafts. Explores how widespread use of speech-to-text in an office can decrease need for dictation work and allow for time to be reallocated to other matters.
Introduces legal assistants to email scheduling and examines potential problems which accompany communicating by email including frequency, volume, and timing. Explores specific ways to use email scheduling in legal practice and provides practical, practice-inspired examples of how legal assistants can schedule email to manage email volume, send more deliberate messages, and exert more control over email communications. Demonstrates how to schedule email delivery using widely used applications. Discusses benefits of email scheduling and suggests broader practices for email management in legal practice.
Discusses importance for legal assistants to follow rules to reduce technology-related distractions and remain focused. Explores common sources of technology driven notifications including from smartphones, computer operating systems, email programs, and apps. Examines problems related to notifications including distraction, time-wasting, embarrassment, and potential to be victimized by fraudsters. Provides specific instruction and recommendations, based on practical, practice-inspired examples, for how to manage specific notifications. Suggests broader practices for receiving notifications, how to make custom changes, and what priority-based exceptions legal assistants should make.
Introduces legal assistants to keyboard shortcuts, macros and workflows. Discusses purpose and utility (including increased speed and security) which is of particular importance for law offices. Provides practical, practice-inspired demonstrations, of how to use specific keyboard shortcuts and where to go for more information. Demonstrates ways to use macros and workflows in legal practice (testing different methods) and discusses specific benefits including saving time, automating tasks, and reducing data entry error rates.
Introduces legal assistants to optical character recognition (OCR), document customization tools, and mail merges. Discusses benefits of using better digital documents including that they are smaller, faster, more versatile, require less space, can be more secure, and may facilitate working remotely. Explores utility of making custom precedents including that they save time, streamline operations, and increase propensity to use digital information. Discusses how OCR works conceptually and practically. Provides practical, practice-inspired demonstrations on how to digitize documents and use scanned document tools and functions including OCR, search, copy-and-paste, file size reduction, redacting, form fields, electronic signature, enhanced security, and ability to combine and organize documents. Provides practical, practice-inspired demonstration on how to use mail merges and produce custom precedents (testing different methods), explains particular utility in legal practice, and warns about importance of correct use.
Discusses importance of online security and backups for legal assistants, particularly in light of increased cybersecurity threats. Examines how legal practice (high value transactions and mass communications) may incentivize cyber-criminals to target law firms. Discusses most serious threats for the legal industry including malware/ransomware and phishing scams. Discusses basic principles, promotes specific practices, attitudes, and ways of thinking (inspired by real practice) for how to stay safe online and provides specific direction on how to detect threats including by using reputable software (including anti-malware/anti-spam software), unhiding file name extensions, using two factor authentication (2FA), maintaining robust backups, link hovering, and being vigilant.
Congratulates and thanks legal assistants for completing the course. Shares hope that audience will have success by applying lessons and consider implementing strategies on greater organizational level. Invites audience to share own tips or tricks to help improve course and provide greater benefit to the legal community. Asks audience to complete survey, remember to claim credits (if applicable), and complete online assessment/quiz. Invites audience to contact instructor with any questions, comments, concerns, or issues not addressed in course.
Hi there. I’m Sean Dillman. Welcome to the Legal Assistant Tech Course. My goal in presenting to you is to show you simple, innovative, and immediately applicable ways to use everyday hardware and software to help you manage your legal work and get things done more quickly and with greater accuracy. By taking this course, I hope that you’ll be able to do some or all of the following: earn more money, save more time, suffer less stress, have happier clients, produce better work, earn professional credit, and build stronger organizations. Please note that the target audience of this course is the average computer user so no specialized knowledge is needed on your end. Also, this course is designed for both Windows users and Mac users and the things I’ll be discussing will apply to both platforms. The demonstrations will be done on computers running Windows and smartphones running Android but if you need any help translating these lessons to Apple products, please just get in touch with me. Further, please note that this course is accredited for continuing professional development credit in relation to topics of professionalism, meaning those which address professional responsibility ethics and or practice management. If you’re subject to professional development requirements, this course is a great way to get hours of credit which meet these specific requirements. If you’re not subject to professional development requirements or you already have your hours for the year, then you’re all set. Before I continue, I’ll tell you a bit about myself and explain why what I have to say is important for you. I went from graduating law school, being called to the bar, and opening a law firm with a partner all in under three years time. In that short period, I progressed through the stages of being a law student, being an articled student, being a junior lawyer with no assistant, being a mid-level associate with an assistant, and finally being a managing partner of a law firm with multiple staff. It took a lot of work to get through these stages and as I advanced through each, I encountered challenges which caused me to change how I approach and manage my work. Before I began my career in law, I studied computers at college and worked as a web-developer and a computer technician for IBM. Because of my background in information technology, it was natural for me to seek solutions based in computer hardware and software. So what’s the point? Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because I’ve been through adversity and when I was faced with these challenges, I learned to improve. I had to work smarter, not only harder, by developing and refining different techniques and practices. These techniques and practices are what I’ll be sharing with you in this course. Here’s how I’ll be doing it. In the first part of the course, the computer hardware module, I’ll provide you with different options for how you can use everyday IT equipment to make drastic improvements to how you do your work. We’ll be looking at all of the physical hardware that I recommend, most of which I use every day. In the second part of the course, the computer software module, I’ll be showing you practical ways to use common pieces of technology to improve how you accomplish specific goals and tasks. In each lesson, I’ll follow the same simple structure. First, I’ll introduce each piece of hardware or software. Then, I’ll consider the problems I’m solving by using it. Finally, I’ll discuss why you should be using it too, how it can benefit you, and how you can get started. You may find that you’re already using some of the pieces of my system in your own, but you may not be using every piece or you may not be using each piece to its full potential. I attribute my success to using many different solutions together. In addition to using these solutions to benefit myself personally, I also put many of the solutions in place in my office to benefit my collective organization. Before I developed this course, I was talking with a staff member at my firm about one of the hardware solutions which I had put into place. She told me that it was new to her and very helpful. She said, and I quote, “I didn’t know that I needed it until I had it.” The way she put it really struck me. Before working with me, she had been working in offices for decades, and yet I was able to introduce something to her which she hadn’t been using which had now revolutionized how she worked. It switched on a light bulb for her. My goal in producing this course is to switch on light bulbs for you too. I don’t want you to go years without knowing about simple things that you could have been doing with everyday computer technology to increase your success by improving your performance. Right now, I want to give you the benefit of my innovative techniques which are designed to solve many common problems and the years of thought and development that I’ve put into improving how I control and manage my work. By design, many of the lessons in this course involve making small and simple changes. In my experience, small changes work. If you can save yourself 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there, it’s like compound interest. It adds up across your day, which adds up across your week, which adds up across your month, and then across your entire year. If you can save yourself time every time you open a web browser or write an email, it saves you time and this time is like an investment in your life. Continually seeking better ways of doing things is a passion for me and is something that’s helped me be a successful lawyer. I want you to benefit from the lessons of this course and be successful in your career too. They don’t teach these lessons in school and you won’t find this information anywhere else. With these goals in mind, thank you for your attention. I’m excited to be sharing with you so let’s get started.
This module of the course covers computer hardware. When I talk about computer hardware, I mean it in a very expansive way. Computer hardware encompasses all of the physical things that relate to information technology that are used in an office whether it be a traditional brick and mortar office or a remote home office. As one would expect, this includes computer equipment such as computers, mice, monitors, keyboards, speakers, microphones, and fingerprint readers. This also includes other equipment such as printers, scanners, fax machines, telephones, smartphones, headsets, and other equipment. Further, furniture such as desks, chairs, mounting equipment, and mats is also included in my definition of hardware. By way of disclaimer, please note that I’m not your physician or personal IT consultant. Although I offer a money back guarantee, I make no specific guarantees as to the efficacy, results, or outcomes of taking this course or implementing any of the suggestions. You are solely responsible for achieving your desired outcome. Some of the suggestions that I’ll be making in this course involve using physical pieces of equipment. Before you implement any changes, I suggest that you consult with a physician as may be appropriate to ensure that you don’t cause or exacerbate any injury. With that being said, let’s continue and move into the computer hardware module.
This module of the course explores different ways to use computer software to get work done in legal practice. Computer software means the different kinds of programs that run on our various electronic devices. This includes operating systems which run computers, smartphones, and tablets. This also includes specific applications that run on these devices, which are used to complete tasks in legal practice such as reading, writing, proofing, redacting, scheduling, and managing, and securing documents. Software also includes the programs that operate on and through internet and network technology, including email voice over internet protocol, cloud computing, and websites. The goal of this module is to help you understand more about software and how to use it more efficiently to unlock greater potential and increase efficiency and security in your office. Before I proceed, please note that I’m not your IT consultant or manager. I make no guarantees as to the effects or results of taking this course. Unintended effects could occur if some of my directions are followed incorrectly so if you feel like you need any extra support or coaching, please confer with your IT person if you have one or contact me directly. From a financial perspective, the software that I’ll be discussing will ideally either be something that you’re already using or be relatively inexpensive. For example, many of my demonstrations will be done on software from Microsoft, Adobe, and Google that’s widely used. Other types of software that I’ll be demonstrating will be free or relatively inexpensive and I may have promo codes that you can use to purchase them at a discount. In addition to demonstrating software that’s used on local computers, smartphones, and devices, I’ll also be discussing online software that’s used for cloud computing and website hosting and development. Lastly, please note that the demonstrations in this module will be done on computers running Microsoft Windows and smartphones running Android. Windows and Android are two of the most widely used operating systems for these devices respectively. For users of Apple products, equivalent methods will be available for what I’m demonstrating. Fortunately, the difference between platforms isn’t as great as it once was and most things that can be done on one platform can be done on the other easily enough. If you need any help finding equivalent methods, please get in touch with me for assistance and direction. Also, please note that I’m using software versions that are current to when this video was made. This means that my software version may not be identical to yours and that your version may be ahead or behind mine. If your software isn’t updated or is a different version, it may not look or work exactly like mine; however, the techniques and concepts that I’ll be discussing will generally be available on most versions of the software. If you encounter any issues with this, you may need to update or upgrade your software, hardware, or both. You may wish to confer with your IT person if you have one or contact me directly if this comes up. With that being said, I’m excited to be sharing my software tips and tricks with you. Let’s get into the first lesson in this module.