Most lawyers should know by now that they need to upgrade their legal technology in order to compete effectively.
But there is so much technology out there, and so many parts of a law practice that can be supported by technology, it can be overwhelming trying to determine where improvements can be implemented to maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability.
First, consider your practice and your clients. Where are you wasting time? Where is there repetitive work that could be automated? Starting with the visible needs (i.e. a new printer/scanner if your current one is often malfunctioning) makes the most sense.
However, you may find that technology can help your law firm in ways you never even thought of, if you keep up with what is available. Look for software that will help you maximize your revenue by:
- Improving communication with clients
- Standardizing and automating your processes, including templates, for full efficiency
- Quickly sorting, categorizing and managing the huge amounts of data available in today’s world
- Reducing your law firm’s liability by ensuring details do not fall through the cracks
Let’s look at some of the most important steps you can take.
Integrate Client Communications
Interactions with your clients need to appear seamless, from the managing partner to the receptionist. It’s important that all technology touching your clients is integrated, so that clients feel your firm is focused on their legal issues. Such systems include:
- CRM (customer-relationship management) systems
- Calendaring software
- Billing systems
- SMS and chat apps
- Client portal
- Scheduling system
- Call routing system
When someone calls your firm, it is imperative that you have developed a process to route those calls to people who can competently help and, where appropriate, convert that call into an appointment.
This is an area where a combination of technology and trained personnel may serve you best. SMS and chat communications could be handled by human beings, chatbots or both depending on your practice and the time of day.
Integrate Your Document Automation with Your Productivity Software
Productivity software, such as the Microsoft Office suite, enables you to draft documents, create spreadsheets, make presentations, organize email and more. Make the most of whatever productivity software you are using. For example, sync them on all your devices to increase mobility. If you use Microsoft Office, consider document automation tools that enable increased accuracy and formatting to meet your law firm’s standards.
Document automation software streamlines creation and customization of the documents you use the most with client data. It is possible to integrate your document automation/assembly software with your law practice management software on one interface.
Use Seamless Time and Billing Software
You already know how critical capturing your time is to your practice, whether you charge by the hour or not. Review your time and billing software to be sure your system is accurately tracking how your time is spent and tie it to your billing system.
Centralize Data with Law Practice Management Software
Centralize critical information with robust law practice management software that includes:
- Client and contact management
- Time tracking
- Billing and accounting
- Calendar management
- Document management
- Email archiving
Consider cloud-based software you can access wherever you are and whatever device you are using. Unless you have a huge law firm that can provide world-class security, your data will almost always be more secure with one of these cloud-based systems with built-in security.
Review Your E-Discovery System
The artificial intelligence of today’s e-discovery applications enables sorting and analyzing vast amounts of data in record time. In many jurisdictions, you could be sued for malpractice for a mistake made because you did not use e-discovery.
You’re busy. It’s hard to take the time to keep up with technology, especially for a small firm with limited resources. But the time for law firms to claim ignorance is over. If you do not regularly review and streamline your systems, your firm will be unable to compete or adequately serve your clients.