What’s your most valuable possession as a divorce attorney besides your reputation for excellence and integrity?

Your computer.

Think about it. Without your computer you might as well go back and practice law with John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. (How did those guys write their briefs by hand?)

And, if you’re like 56% of attorneys in America, you are a solo practitioner. That means you don’t have an IT department (or you are the IT department; in which case, your IT department sucks).

Without an IT department, solo attorneys end up spending inordinate amounts of time trying to fix computer problems when they arise. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting at your desk, furiously Googling “how to fix X,” and then spending two hours on message boards trying to decipher tech instructions so you can finish the divorce complaint you were working on.

When you add up all the hours over a year you have spent fixing problematic computers, and multiply that by your billable hour rate, the number would probably astound you. (Even if these sort of problems crop up only three or four times per year (we all know they happen more often than that), and it takes an average of one hour to fix each problem, that’s still $800 of billable time.)

I know this because it astounded me when I worked out the numbers. At that point, I knew I needed a system to minimize the time spent on stuff like this.

How often I replace our computers

My solution to this problem (and it might not be the best solution; it’s just the one that’s worked for us) is to replace our computers about every 18 months.

Yes, every 18 months.

I know that sounds like a lot, but it makes sense. You have practically no problems with a new computer over the first 18 months, so you don’t spend time fixing anything.

Replacing computers now is a pretty seamless process. You have your computer dealer (we use Macs) migrate the data from your old computer to your new, and, voilà, your good to go. (Make sure you do this on a Friday when you don’t need the computer until Monday; the migration process takes a day or two.)

Some might balk at this system because they believe it would cost too much. It doesn’t.

I sell back our Macs for about $700 and then buy a new Mac for approximately $1300-$1400. Net it’s $600-$700 every 18 months (or $400-$470 per year) for computers that work perfectly without any maintenance or downtime.

That’s a pretty inexpensive yearly investment in your second most important possession.

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