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Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

Camarillo Attorneys In the Clouds

Karen Gabler Partner, co-founder LightGabler LLP, Camarillo LightGabler specializes in employment law, counseling and litigation. The firm opened in 2011 and has grown from five to 11 attorneys. Karen Gabler conducts monthly seminars for clients on employment legal compliance. What’s the biggest impact of digitalization? When we opened our firm, we launched a cloud-based computer environment with Internet-based telephone and voicemail. This initiative allows each member of the firm to work more closely with each other and with our clients. We can be available to our clients at any time, with all information always at our fingertips. How does this pay out every day? As employment lawyers, we are often asked to address ongoing and immediate human interactions in our clients’ workplaces. If our only options were to set a convenient in-person meeting or wait for documents to arrive by mail or messenger, it would be impossible to address an ongoing workplace conflict and resolve that issue on the spot. With digitalization, we can review scanned documents, conduct a multi-party conference call, draft an employee memo and email it to the client, allowing us to solve a problem in an hour or less. How are your client relationships? On one hand, digitalization allows us to stay in touch with many more people. On the other hand, overuse of technology can have an adverse impact on relationships because we spend less time meeting in person, talking by phone and connecting on a human level. Finding a balance between the efficiencies of technology and the necessity of human contact is critical. What is the biggest challenge overall of digitalization? The pressure to produce immediate results, which provides attorneys with less opportunity to ponder thorny questions. There is a perception that instantaneous transmission of information necessarily correlates to instantaneous analysis and provision of quality legal advice. What is the biggest opportunity? We are able to service clients throughout the state as well as on a national and international basis. How has it affected the price of legal services? Digitalization allows attorneys to customize and streamline projects. This permits us to reduce legal fees for clients, because there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” in each matter. Billable hours are reduced and clients receive better services at reduced cost. Who are the biggest losers in the shift? Support staff are likely to see the greatest adverse impact. I have seen a shift from the “one attorney to one secretary” model to the “five attorneys to one secretary” model. Office services staff has been substantially reduced. What have you found are the chief risks? There is always the risk of loss or theft of critical and confidential information. From misaddressing an email, to loss of internal data, to theft of client information, there are more opportunities for loss or inadvertent disclosure than ever before. Are you providing new digital services? We have enhanced our website to include seminar information, articles and legal updates. We are able to electronically share substantive information and form documents with our clients, often at a reduced fee or at no charge. How has digitalization affected revenue? It has enhanced our revenue, rather than cutting into it, by enabling us to be more efficient. How do you think digitalization will change the legal profession in the next decade? Geographical limitations will no longer be relevant. There may be more “virtual law firms” and even “virtual courts,” where attorneys more readily conduct business by electronic means rather than in person. Ten years ago, a 20-minute court appearance in Los Angeles might mean a five-hour bill to the client, given the time spent traveling to court and then waiting for your matter to be called. Now, most courts permit telephonic appearances, reducing that fee by more than half. – Joel Russell

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.

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