With the new year coming up, you’re probably thinking of ways you can make next year an even better one for your firm. While modernizing your firm is an ongoing work in progress to keep up with all the changes and new helpful tools available, there are certain areas of focus that deserve your attention. Whether it’s a new addition to your firm or an upgrade to what you’re already doing, taking some time to plan now will set you up for success in 2020.
Modernize with: Technology
These days technology is affordable, accessible, and relatively easy to implement. Not every tool out there will make sense for your firm, but the use of technology will no doubt have a positive impact on your overall efficiency – and in return, your profits. It’s true that the majority of technology is going to have some sort of cost associated with it, but you have to weigh the cost against the time it will free up and how client satisfaction will improve.
To decide what will be most beneficial to your firm, evaluate areas that could use improvement as well as those containing bottlenecks. Is client intake taking up all your time? Look to call forwarding and intake specialists to vet potential clients and route your calls as needed. Does document preparation eat away at your paralegal’s productivity? Use document creation tools to pull in matter data and automatically put together the documents.
Legal technology is extensive and includes hardware, software, programs, security, backup, phone services, and more. Here are just a few technology pieces your firm would benefit from modernizing in the coming year:
- Automation of processes, such as collections or billing
- Use dashboards and data to make informed decisions
- Improve the client experience with a client portal
- Make your office paperless by scanning in all paperwork, shredding what you don’t, and keeping only necessary documents
- Embrace a password management tool for enhanced security, such as LastPass
Modernize with: the Cloud
If your firm hasn’t yet transitioned your practice management program to the cloud, this year is the time. To stay competitive, you need to be able to access files on the go, especially when you’re in court, and respond to clients quickly. With the right tools, you’ll be able to update calendars, record your billable time as it occurs, and see a full case history no matter where you are.
There’s also the added benefit of reduced costs and increased security and backups. Many programs offer high levels of data protection, including encryption, and regularly back-up your information, eliminating the IT headache normally associated with data management. These programs also frequently release updates, giving you the top of the line systems at all times, unlike traditional programs that require you to purchase a new license for updated versions.
Modernize with: Integrated Systems
Every time you have to switch from one program to another you’re not only losing valuable time, you’re also losing focus. Studies have shown that switching from program to program makes your brain work similarly to switching between tasks, significantly reducing productivity. To limit this effect, integrate your programs wherever possible.
These integrations, when constructive, will transfer data seamlessly from one program to the next. This means you only have to input data once versus multiple times, cutting back on errors and the time it takes to complete tasks. Even better than integration is using a tool that comes with multiple task areas combined into one, ensuring that all data is going to show up correctly in each location.
For example, billing and accounting programs often require entering information into two programs. Even when integrated, the transfer of data sometimes only works one way or fails to send over all of the necessary information, sending pieces instead. When both accounting and billing are part of the same larger program, you don’t have to worry that the numbers may be inaccurate in one of the two systems.
Improving your law firm is a never-ending venture. Prioritize the upgrades according to what your firm needs most at the moment, also keeping in mind long-term goals while planning. Modernizing your firm means a time investment to implement the changes, but the end result is increased productivity, more time for billable tasks and less stress.