As a lawyer with the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, Phyllis C. Solomon turned to computers as a way to get around her office’s lack of secretarial help after 5 p.m.

Now, as a small-firm practitioner in Manhattan, Ms. Solomon’s technical knowledge has helped her join a growing number of New York lawyers outside big firms who are getting along all day without secretaries.