Lawyers work hard. It’s simply the nature of the business. Practicing law is a demanding job that often requires long hours. Your schedule tends to be at the mercy of the court and the unexpected service of opposing counsel’s reply papers on a Friday afternoon can completely derail your weekend plans.
So it’s no wonder that many solo and small firm lawyers can become stressed out and depressed. Practicing law is, in and of itself, time consuming. When you add to that the additional time required to manage a law practice, it can be downright overwhelming.
That’s why it’s so important that your law firm’s workflow is as efficient as possible. Improving workflow efficiently will save you both time and money, ultimately reducing your stress levels and allowing you to focus on what you do best–representing your clients. That’s also one of the many ways to becoming the happy lawyer you were meant to be, which is the focus of our 15 post blog series. Streamlining your law firm’s workflow is undoubtedly one of the keys to a successful, thriving, enjoyable law practice.
In a recent post at Attorney at Work, Peggy Gruenke explains why streamlining your practice by creating business processes is so important:
(U)nderstand the power of building processes to increase efficiency and deliver a better product. Within your practice, you have tasks you do repeatedly. Documenting what you do — the steps you have to follow to file a bankruptcy or handle an eviction, for example — opens up a window to help you see how to improve upon it.
The good news is that there are many ways to streamline your law firm’s workflow and processes. One of the keys to doing this is to go paperless–or, at the very least, reduce the number of paper documents that flow through your firm. By doing so, you can more easily manage, file, and access your firm’s documents.
With digital documents, not only do you reduce the costs associated with managing and storing paper documents, you also have more built-in flexibility and can create filing systems that fit into your law firm’s workflow. Of course, the flexibility that you have in organizing your law firm’s documents depends in large part on the document management software that your law firm uses.
Many web-based law practice management platforms provide document storage, but the ways that you can organize your documents will vary. Some systems will allow you to associate documents with matters, others permit you to tag documents with descriptive words, and some include the ability to create custom folders within which you can store documents–and some law practice management software systems, such as MyCase, allow you to do all three. The more options you have available to you, the better.
Another way to streamline your law practice is to use technology to reduce redundancies in your law firm’s work processes. Examples of ways to do this include creating fillable forms for frequently used documents, automating document assembly, and creating templates that automate recurring tasks. MyCase’s Workflow, which allows you to create task lists and deadlines and automatically apply them to new cases, is a great example of a way that technology can help to automate your law firm’s workflow & processes, saving both time and money.
Finally, you can use technology to streamline your firm’s communication and collaboration processes, both with other lawyers and with clients. The ability to collaborate and communicate in a secure online environment and avoid the back and forth of phone tag is an invaluable time-saver and offers law firms tremendous benefits. You can learn more about how online portals can increase your law firm’s workflow and efficiency from our recent infographic on the benefits of clients portals.
So, if you’re not already using technology to its fullest to increase your firm’s efficiency, why not make that a priority? Use technology wisely, streamline your law firm’s workflow and get on the path to increasing your efficiency and reducing your stress!