Speed and accuracy: when slow and steady doesn't win the race

By Sara Sawyer
Manager, Small Law Firm Marketing at Thomson Reuters

The practice of law doesn't allow room for mistakes. Accuracy will make or break a Small Law Firm. As a practicing attorney, you know the importance of being accurate, but how do you successfully combine that accuracy with speed? In today's modern practice, your challenge is to be quick without haphazardly rushing, the space where mistakes are all too common. Small Law Firms are expected to do more for less. Clients “expect 100% perfection from their lawyers and expect everything to be done as of yesterday”.1 Your clients expect answers quickly with little tolerance for errors or oversight. They also have more options, from self-help websites to larger firms offering services to clients that have been served by smaller firms. The challenge is clear - you need to be on top of your game!

In today’s lightning speed digital world, your clients expect immediate - and accurate - service. As the expert in the field, you need to deliver on both because they can directly influence your credibility. Say you’re in court and you reference an outdated statute or conflicting law. How will you be perceived? If you’re one step behind your adversary, you not only lose credibility, but you also risk losing the entire case. So how do you avoid unnecessary risks in a complex environment?

As you’re aware, the process for passing and publishing a law can be tedious and extensive. Legislatures pass laws every year and publishers prepare them for researchers. One session law can impact dozens of statutes. In 2016, 15,000 session laws impacted 100,000 statutes. That number is on par to increase in 2017, as the new administration has already either made or given countless promises to change or reverse policies.

The publishing process has a history of being complicated - to say the least. When laws are first passed, they’re not easily usable for legal work. First, they must be organized into the appropriate statute sections and then additional issues must be resolved. For example, attorney-editors must carefully analyze laws to determine if they conflict. Conflicting laws require close editorial attention to the state’s drafting rules to publish the correct law.

Also, there can be multiple versions of one statute. Fortunately, Thomson Reuters attorney-editors make this part of your research much easier by blending legislation - saving you laborious time combing through numerous versions of a statute.

So as you can see, passing a law is just the beginning. The space between passing and publishing that law is where discrepancies can occur. What you see in your research can change in an instant. As an attorney, you need to be on top of the changes and confident in your matter. Today, clients' perception of your speed and accuracy are equal in importance.

Investing in a highly credible and digitally advanced resource is essential to being quick and precise. It's this delivery that will lead to stellar client satisfaction, as well as retention and growth. With Westlaw®, you can build the strongest argument relying on superior legal materials. And, you'll deliver the best answers faster with WestSearch®, the world's most advanced legal search engine pulling from proprietary resources. With Westlaw, you'll work smarter, more efficiently, and with total confidence.

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1 Are Today's Legal Clients More Demanding. Or Is It Just That Lawyers Haven't Kept Pace?, Carolyn Elefant, Practice of Law, November 1, 2016.
2 Forrester Research.