Excel probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of tools lawyers use. With a surplus of young law school grads but a dearth of job openings, however, a surprisingly high number of legal minds are finding out that technical flexibility is a huge asset. As firms are forced to cut costs, and young lawyers are sometimes forced into part-time, consulting, or document review roles, Excel efficiency (and literacy) is becoming increasingly important.
In the article below you can see how D. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, conducts a technology audit for law firms and cuts billing rates when a firm fails.
Frustrated by ridiculous bills for routine “commodity” matters, Flaherty decided to strike back, and recently launched his technology audit program, where firms bidding for Kia’s business must bring a top associate for a live test of their skills using basic, generic business tech tools such as Microsoft Word and Excel, for simple, rudimentary tasks.
So far, the track record is zero. Nine firms have taken the test, and all failed. One firm flunked twice.
“The audit should take one hour,” said Flaherty, “but the average pace is five hours.” In real life, that adds up to a whole lot of wasted money, he said.
As a lawyer, you want to make your billable hours count, adding value for the client and your firm. Having a good base of Excel knowledge is an easy starting point toward that end.
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