More law firms are using legal practice management software than ever before. In fact, according to the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, the majority of law firms now use law practice management software, with 51% of lawyers reporting that it is available for use at their firms (up from 45% in 2015). This isn’t surprising, since law practice management software streamlines your law firm’s processes, increasing productivity, and is thus a great up front investment. No wonder so many law firms are on board with the idea of using this type of legal software.
Bogged down by your outdated law practice management software?
Of course, the trick is to choose the right law practice management software for your firm’s needs. If you’re not sure how to go about doing this, then you’re in luck! This very topic was covered last month at the ABA Techshow in Chicago. During this presentation, “Using Practice Management Systems to Streamline Your Systems,” Micah Ascand and Natalie Robinson Kelly offered lots of helpful guidance to help you choose the right software and then successfully implement it to automate your firm’s processes.
Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with some of our favorite tips:
Map your law firm’s processes
According to the presenters, before you start researching law practice management software, it’s important to ensure that you thoroughly understand your law firm’s processes. They recommend that you start by mapping your law firm’s processes. Consider creating a visual map of the processes used by members of your firm. That way you’ll be able to easily visualize how work flows through your firm and how members of your firm manage their daily tasks.
They cautioned that while the concept may seem simple, it can sometimes be more complex than you might think. Because there are so many different touch points for documents and projects in a law firm, mapping their path through the firm isn’t always easy. But easy or not, it’s an important step to take prior to researching and choosing legal practice management software. The good news is that all of the time spent mapping your law firm’s workflows will pay off in the long run after you’ve chosen the right software to help your firm get the job done.
Choose legal practice management software that works with your firm’s processes
Once you have a complete understanding of your law firm’s processes, the next step is to choose legal software that will fit into your law firm’s workflows and reduce redundancies. Consider which features are must-haves for your firm, and then go from there. But make sure that the features built into the software work the way that you expect them to. One of the best ways to do this is to take the software for a test drive. Most companies will offer a free trial, so make sure to take advantage of it.
The presenters suggested that you begin with one user and one case. Take advantage of demos, webinars, and training sessions provided by the software company. Then enter and upload important case-related information into the software for that one case, and use the tools built into the software to apply workflows and assign tasks to others in the firm. Consider how intuitive the software is. How many features are built in, and how much more money will it cost each month in order to access tools and features that are not built in? Oftentimes these will be deciding factors when choosing law practice management software for your firm. For even more tips, download this ebook: Choosing Legal Practice Management Software – A Checklist and Guidebook for Small Firms.
Use your new software to automate and streamline your law firm
After choosing the software tools that are the best fit for your firm, the next step is to dive in and put the software to work for your firm. Make sure to educate everyone about the software and how it works. Ensure that they understand how it will fit into their workflow and when they are expected to use it. Show them how it can streamline client intake, firm-wide calendaring and collaboration, client communication, time-tracking, invoicing, payment collection, and more.
The presenters explained that it’s important to ensure that you use the software to automate, to the greatest extent possible, all of the firm processes you identified when you created your law firm’s process map. This is because the more the software is utilized, the more streamlined your firm’s overall workflows will be, saving both time and money. So, make sure to get the most out of your software investment by taking full advantage of all that it has to offer.
If your’e not sure where to start, then download this free guide: Tips For Automating Your Law Practice. Give it a read, and then, before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to an efficient, profitable law firm.