Using Technology to Manage Your Practice
Technology can keep your practice organized and help it run more efficiently. Here are some key areas where technology can help you set up a new firm or take your law practice to the next level.
Software to manage your practice. Today’s cloud-based practice management software offers a wide range of options to organize your practice and improve its efficiency. Practice management software can keep track of client contact and billing data, organize documents into digital files, track time, generate invoices, handle calendaring and docketing functions and provide overviews on a customizable dashboard. Each software company packages its offerings a little differently, so it’s wise to shop around to find the user interface and features that are best suited to your practice.
Digital Files, also known as a “paperless office” can dramatically reduce the amount of office space and off-site storage your law office needs, as well as the amount of staff time spent maintaining and retrieving paper files. A good digital filing system makes it easier to find documents and can cut down on misfiled and lost documents.
Many practice management programs include an integrated digital filing and document storage system. Invest in an office scanner to digitize paper documents and develop a consistent system for converting paper to digital. Depending on your office, that might mean having a scanner at every desk or having a central location where paper documents are sent for scanning.
Attorney-client portals. People are increasingly accustomed to conducting business online, and an attorney-client portal is a secure way for lawyers and clients to communicate and share documents over the internet. Portals can also allow clients to pay their legal fees online.
Document automation. Most law practices have certain documents that they generate on a routine basis, whether it’s a fill-in-the-blank form pleading, a nondisclosure agreement, or a lengthy trust document. Document automation programs can create common documents in much less time than it would take to draft them individually, allowing lawyers to do their work more efficiently and cutting down on the need for support staff to handle routine document creation.
Marketing automation. Law firms often take a piecemeal approach to business development that can be inefficient and inconsistent. Marketing automation software can encompass a variety of functions, including managing email campaigns and website interactions. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can manage contacts, leads and the entire business development cycle.
Presentations. Presentation software is useful in the courtroom, but lawyers can also use it for speaking engagements and for making proposals or outlining strategies to clients. A variety of programs for tablets makes it easy to create professional-looking presentations on the go.
To make smart technology buying decisions, think about the features your firm most needs. Is time tracking important? Would your clients benefit from and use a client portal? Where could document automation help you? You should also consider your budget, the size of your firm, and the ability of your lawyers and staff to use and adapt to new technology. Law firm data security is increasingly an issue, so be sure your software provider offers adequate security protections as well as customer support and training.