Legal practice management, or Law Practice Management (LPM), includes all administrative and business tasks included in running a law practice. These tasks range from management of clients and staff to office accounting and budgeting to document management and storage. Due to the extent of LPM, there are even organizations devoted to supporting professionals involved in law firm management, and many bar associations provide resources to help with legal practice management. Efficient law firm management is an essential part of running a successful firm.
Law firms can be automated using technology and software. The first step of law firm automation is identifying areas of your law practice that are time-consuming, complex, and repetitive. Using technology can provide real benefits to your firm, helping to improve productivity, efficiency, and reduce errors. Commonly automated practice management sectors include:
Finding new legal clients starts with clearly communicating with potential clients how you and your firm can solve their problems. Additionally, it is important that your current clients know that you will always be available, can answer their questions, and help them with their legal issues. Streamlining this communication process can be done with technology and will result in better informed clients and valuable time saved for your firm. Software that includes a legal CRM will allow you to easily respond to new client questions from one place, all online through email and the web. Additional client management tools should include document collaboration, appointment scheduling, and simple online payments. Your legal software should enable your firm to get more legal clients and make the communication process easy.
Traditionally, billable time is recorded manually in timesheets as they occur, if possible, or at the end of the day if time recording is not practical, such as time out of the office. The best methods for modern time tracking include cloud software that allows for automated time recording that syncs to the corresponding matter, even when you are working on the go. Additionally, good legal billing software will include customizable templates for creating invoices and receipts that allow for consistent and reliable transactions with your legal clients.
Keeping track of time and legal billing can seem difficult due to the large number of tasks lawyers undertake daily, but it is important for making sure attorneys do not miss out on billable time. The best tools for time recording are automated, accurate, and work in real time. Using software, time recording is done automatically in the program through your computer or phone and synced to the matter. Good time recording software eliminates loss billable time by recording every minute spent on calls, email, and meetings.
Starting and running a successful law firm takes more than just knowing how to practice law, it also requires the skills to run a business. Running a law firm includes managing all aspects of the firm, from managing staff and clients, to managing the property and expenses, and that is why choosing the right legal software will save a firm time and money by streamlining all aspects of the business. Please read this “10 Step Guide to Starting an Online Law Firm” and see how cloud legal software can get your firm started on the right foot or read more about starting a law firm.
Sending documents safely to colleagues or clients is essential, especially while working from home or remotely. Sending sensitive material by email alone is a no-go and requires secure file encryption. A secure way to send documents over the internet is by using a service that is designed to store documents for lawyers, without transferring between servers, and is compliant with ABA standards of security – a service that handles the encryption for you. Additionally, secure software allows for you to control who can view and edit documents, as well as control how long they can be accessed. Proper legal practice management software will have secure document collaboration built-in, allowing for easy communication between staff, but also secure document sharing between you and your clients, making sure you are not breaching legal ethics.
Organizing files electronically will declutter your practice and save you time flipping through manilla folders and stacks of paper. Law firms should organize electronic files just like paper files, but should take advantage of the increased ability to segment documents with subfolders. Using software to organize files further enhances the process by allowing you to easily store emails and other extraneous documents associated to the matter as well as upload documents through a scanner or your phone.
There are many benefits to digitizing your law firm, especially during these unprecedented times, that will ultimately lower your firm’s business cost and improve client relations. Making your firm digital is as simple as identifying the areas of your law practice that can be digitized, and then finding the right legal practice management software that fits your firm’s needs. Areas of a firm that can easily go digital include being able to work from anywhere, having an automated legal forms library, using secure document management, having legal time tracking and billing, and managing your clients. Switching to software to manage your clients is an easy place to start as doing so will save your firm time associated with filling intake forms and scheduling appointments and save costs due to manual errors in data entry. Cloud software provides these benefits and more. After choosing the best legal software, you can begin moving files and in-house processes to the cloud.
The first part of better serving your legal clients starts with understanding how your clients found you in the first place. From there, you can make changes to streamline the process and make it easier for your current clients to communicate with you, as well as your future clients. Important interactions with your firm that your clients will face include completing intake forms, viewing and interacting with documents, scheduling appointments, making payments, and simply asking questions. Each of these contact points can be improved to better serve your clients by making them paperless, online, and automated.