If nothing else, 2020 was the harbinger of the unexpected. It seemed as if every week, and sometimes even every day, something new and surprising happened. In both personal and professional arenas, it was a year of uncertainty and unpredictability, in large part due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 changed everything, and touched all aspects of our lives. Social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders impacted our social and business interactions, dramatically affecting how and where we got work done. Also notable, was that it helped us to appreciate the many benefits of technology more than we ever have before.
This was especially true for law firms, where technology was the key to continued operations in the midst of uncertainty. Although the legal profession as a whole has been historically slow to adopt emerging technologies into their workflows, the pandemic gave lawyers a newfound incentive to embrace technology. Because without it, they’d have been unable to keep their firms running once displaced from their offices due to quarantines. That’s why what lawyers should be grateful for this Thanksgiving are the top 3 tools that allowed them to continue practicing law in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
First and foremost, lawyers should be grateful for cloud computing because without it, none of the tools they relied on in 2020 to keep their firms running while working remotely would be possible. The reason cloud computing software was so impactful was because it s accessible as long as you have an internet connection, so you don’t have to be at your office desktop to work. Instead, you can simply log on to any internet-enabled device and work from wherever you happen to be. That’s why it was key to keeping law firms operating throughout the pandemic.
With cloud computing, law firms were able run their firms remotely in 2020 from the initial intake to the final bill using cloud-based law practice management software. With this software lawyers were able to: 1) track and manage leads obtained through an intake form on your firm’s website, 2) collect initial consultation fees, 3) obtain e-signatures for retainer agreements and other documents, 4) communicate with clients using secure client portals or built-in text messaging, 5) create and store documents, 6) create and track tasks for yourself and others on your team, 7) communicate with other lawyers via in-app chat, 8) track time, create and send electronic invoices, and 9) get paid online.
Imagine doing all of that from any location using a single log in. That’s the beauty of cloud computing and why it’s the top technology lawyers should be grateful for in 2020. Because without it, remote work would be next to impossible.
Next up, videoconferencing tools. Because of the pandemic, videoconferencing became the new normal almost overnight. In large part this was because lawyers – and judges – didn’t have much choice in light of the shelter-in-place mandates in effect across the country at various times over the past year. With the implementation of social distancing as a necessary safety measure, many courts suspended in-person appearances and began to use videoconferencing tools to facilitate court appearances and trials and thus streamline the swift administration of justice. Likewise, lawyers used videoconferencing tools to interact with clients, conduct meetings with work colleagues, and attend CLEs.
Before the pandemic, video meetings were rare in the legal profession. Now they’re commonplace, everyday occurrences. The transition to video meetings was quick and far more painless than anyone expected. Lawyers and courts rapidly adapted, and the practice of law continued in a manner that had some sort of semblance of normalcy. But for the availability of this technology – which is cloud-based, by the way – the practice of law would have come to a grinding halt.
Last, but not least, is online payments. This remote working tool deserves to be highlighted in its own category because it has singlehandedly helped to keep law firms afloat throughout the pandemic. Without it, law firms would have been unable to survive – and even thrive – in 2020.
Certainly law firms faced a number of challenges when transitioning to remote work at the start of the pandemic. For many a key hurdle that needed to be overcome in order to ensure continued operability even with a displaced workforce was setting up a process to get paid promptly. This was a top priority for most firms since cash flow could easily be negatively impacted by the unpredictability of the pandemic. That’s why firms turned to cloud-based legal billing software, which is included in law practice management software.
This software made it possible for law firms to collect payment for legal bills despite the uncertain times. For starters, the ability to remotely track time, invoice clients, and accept online payments made all the difference during 2020. This software also makes it easy for a firm’s clients to pay by credit card or set up payment plans for their legal bills. By providing clients with increased flexibility, firms made it easier for them to pay their legal bills, thus ensuring financial stability in the face of uncertainty.
So there you have it: 3 reasons lawyers should be grateful this Thanksgiving. No doubt about it: 2020 was quite the year. But there are always silver linings, and technology was at the top of the list of silver linings for lawyers in a year that was unpredictable, and unprecedented. There are certainly many more things to be grateful for, so make sure to count your blessings this holiday and enjoy your time with family and friends while you’re at it! Happy Thanksgiving!