Managing Your Electronic Workspace: Two Monitors are Better Than One!

Prior to the advent of electronic case management systems and computer systems in general, the typical lawyer and paralegal team operated in a paper-centric environment. Case files and forms were managed from within heavy manila folders with either a summary sheet or perhaps even sticky notes (containing important details about the case) pasted haphazardly to the outside of the file. Quite often, the busy attorney might have several files sprawled out on the desk (and perhaps overflowing onto the floor) in various stages of completion or review. Mail, receipt notices, and reference materials add to this impressive collection, which can be best described as “ordered chaos.” Case management systems have improved this situation tremendously by enabling practitioners to electronically store and retrieve important documents, prepare forms, communicate with clients and manage important expiration dates, all from the lens of a computer screen. High speed Internet and updated web browser technology (Firefox, IE7 and later, Safari, etc.) have added a new dimension by allowing practitioners to manage many more screens at once. For example, an attorney might open several electronic client files, compose/read e-mail, browse the Internet, log into AILA infonet, type a support letter in Word, view a shared calendar, and enter client case notes all at the same time. Although it’s amazing that technology makes this all possible, it also presents an interesting new problem: messy physical desktops have now been replaced with a cluttered electronic workspace. Does your virtual desktop resemble a crowded parking lot? Do you fingers get tired switching back and forth between applications? If so, read on for an affordable solution!

Now, this may seem needlessly excessive at first, but one of the best ways to boost computer efficiency is a relatively simple and inexpensive upgrade: Dual Monitors. Most PCs and laptops support dual monitor display configurations, which effectively double your available desktop space. How is this helpful?  Well, rather than having a single screen crowded with multiple browser windows and different programs, you will be able to “spread out” those applications onto a secondary screen. On screen one, for example, you might have your case management system open with multiple case files visible on the browser tabs. On your second screen, you can display your calendar and e-mail. Depending on the size of the monitors, your screen “real estate” can jump significantly, providing you with great visibility into everything you are working on without the clutter that might occur on a single screen. Think that dual screens are only for programmers or computer geeks? Think again! Many studies support the use of dual monitors to improve efficiency, in almost any occupation. Gary Starkweather, (the inventor of the Laser printer) and a dual monitor proponent who has studied computer use and efficiency, notes that the average computer display size is not much bigger than an 8-by-11 inch sheet of paper. He asks, “What if I took away your desk, and gave you one that was only 8-by-11? How easy would it be for you to work?”  Moreover, studies carried out by Microsoft Research, NEC and many others indicate a minimum of 9% up to a maximum of 50% gain in efficiency when dual monitors are used.  Just think about it…you prepared two H-1B petitions, one EAD renewal and responded to ten important emails this afternoon. Now double it! (Note, the author makes no guarantees regarding the preceding sentence…but for further information about these studies, please see the following link: . As you consider how to improve efficiency and your own client support, it’s important to spend your technology dollars wisely to get the most bang for your buck.  There are a lot of cool gadgets out there, but sometimes it helps to simply enhance what you already have. Dual monitors, in combination with a smart case management system like LawLogix, can go a long way towards helping you and your staff achieve significant returns with minimal investment. And that is a win-win for everyone involved.   Want to learn more technology insights that can boost your productivity within EDGE?  Current EDGE clients can contact Customer Support here or by calling us at 602-357-4240 ext. 2 for complete details.  New clients interested in learning more the the LawLogix EDGE system can contact us here or call 602-357-4240 ext. 1.  Also, please visit our website for general information.