Across all different practice areas, attorneys and law firms face unique challenges in managing their business that other industries simply do not face. Inside of the legal world different attorneys and firms who are focused on specific practice areas tend to have challenges that are unique to their case type.
One case type or practice area where this is particularly true is family law. Family law is a practice area that focuses on family matters and domestic relations. This can include but isn’t limited to:
- Civil Unions
- Domestic Partnerships
- Child Custody
- Child Surrogacy
- Child Abuse
As one can imagine, just the subject matter alone can be challenging and difficult to deal with for all parties involved. Couple that with managing the different requirements and regulations associated with how the business and financials are managed, family law attorneys face several challenges. Here are some of the unique challenges family law firms and attorneys face on a regular basis.
Legal Calendar and Event Tracking
It is vital to have an interactive calendar to highlight the events and appointments associated with cases. Unfortunately, many family law firms still use less sophisticated calendaring methods. Neglecting to synchronize calendars across the firm can result in miscommunication and even unrecorded time, which leads to gaps in billing and lost money for the firm.
Inefficient docket control is a common challenge faced by family law attorneys. Docket control is a system used to alert attorneys of an upcoming court date, filing deadlines, and statutes of limitations of specific legal actions and motions. When an efficient system to manage docket control isn’t in place and integrated with calendar and event tracking attorneys can miss deadlines. Missed deadlines will not only create additional stress for clients, but it can result in lost cases and ethics charges.
Legal Billing & Collections
When many of your clients are going through a divorce, as is often the case for family law attorneys, collections can become an issue. The unfortunate truth is that your clients are going through a difficult time, both emotionally and financially, which makes collection difficult. Your practice still needs to maintain a positive cash flow despite your clients’ situations. Attorneys must carefully manage the billing process through timely billing, proactive follow-up on unpaid accounts, and detailed invoices. Implementing a practice management system, like CosmoLex, allows firms to send personalized overdue invoice notices to clients with a single click.
Legal Trust Accounting
Family law attorneys and firms depend on fee advances or retainers to secure cash flow. It’s no secret that a law firm’s IOLTA accounts are subject to strict rules and regulations, and failure to comply results in steep penalties to the firm. I don’t know too many lawyers that moonlight as accountants, so this is a particularly challenging area for most family law attorneys. With that in mind, many attorneys will turn to an accountant to manage their trust accounting, but unless that accountant has expertise in legal accounting, they often come up short in appropriately managing these funds. Family law attorneys need to find legal specific trust accounting solutions with safeguards in place to ensure that they remain compliant.
The Challenges Are Interconnected & Your Practice Management Solution Should Be To
Understanding these challenges is not everything in terms of the office operations if attorneys do not know how they interrelate.
How these challenges are related:
- Docket control works with calendar and event tracking to coordinate activities across attorneys, paralegals, and clerks in order to schedule a date for a court filing deadline.
- Calendar and event tracking work with billing and collections to transfer appointments and events into the billing workflow.
- Billing and collections work with trust management to ensure accurate invoices with the allocation of security retainer from the matter’s trust account.
When the four components actively work together, firms can easily be proven not guilty with the documentation of all the events, appointments, expenses, invoices, and payment if a client files a malpractice claim.
CosmoLex is a complete practice management solution for family law attorneys that can help you run a more efficient and productive law firm.