Family law practices often guide clients through some of the most difficult moments in their lives—and that means careful attention, empathy, and proactive communication are always essential.
It can also mean that family law attorneys tend to have plenty on their plates.
Between coordinating with clients, gathering key documentation, and staying on top of important case deadlines and hearing dates, your attorneys are already busy enough with their billable hours. It’s all too easy for key administrative tasks to get placed on the backburner. But with the right family law software, you can streamline your firm’s workflows and take some of the administrative burden off of your team’s plates so they can have more time to focus on client matters.
Here are a few key features to look for as you consider different software options.
Practice management features
Family law attorneys need to be able to communicate with clients and gather key documentation quickly, all while managing important court dates and filing deadlines, staying on top of appointments, and more. The right legal practice management software should help you:
- Streamline your workflows
- Meet important matter deadlines
- Coordinate more effectively with clients
- Send or receive key documents in less time
Calendars and project management tools
Unless you’re a solo practice, keeping everyone at your firm on the same page is essential—and even solo practitioners can benefit from better scheduling and project management tools.
Specifically, whatever software you choose should include an intuitive, easy-to-use firm-wide calendar to help your team coordinate on scheduling and stay on top of important meetings and deadlines. You should also look for a software that lets you build out custom workflows for different matter types. Ideally, you should be able to:
- Break down complex matters into a series of smaller tasks
- Assign different tasks to different team members as needed
- Set deadlines for each individual step in the process of resolving a matter
- Easily associate time entries with your matters for easier, more accurate, and more transparent invoicing
Document sharing and management tools
Your practice management software should also allow you to quickly generate common legal documents from pre-existing templates, then automatically populate them using the information you already have on file—so you can waste less time building out routine documents and more time tending to client relationships.
You’ll also want some way to securely share important files with clients and collect signatures on them more quickly. One-click e-signatures can eliminate the need for long turnaround times by mail and make it easier for clients to sign without needing to stop by your office.
A secure client portal
Communication is vitally important in family law, but that doesn’t mean you want to spend all of your time on the phone. Giving your clients access to a secure portal allows them to:
- Access—or upload—important documents securely
- Sign documents easily with one click
- View any updates on the status of their matters
- View and even pay their invoices online
It’s a great way to keep your clients in the loop on pressing matters without requiring them to call your office every day.
Time tracking, invoicing, and billing
Tracking hours, filling out invoices, and sending follow-ups to collect on payments has never been any attorney’s favorite part of their job. Thankfully, the right software tools can make all of these processes easier and less time-consuming.
The software you choose should include robust time-tracking features to help your attorneys track their time from anywhere as they work, so you can lose fewer billable hours and invoice more accurately and transparently. It should also make it easy for your firm to generate invoices in less time—look for software that lets you generate invoices by batch and send them to your clients by email or through a client portal.
Finally, you’ll want some way to offer Bar-compliant online payment processing, even when funds are being withdrawn from—or deposited into—a client’s trust account. Allowing your clients to pay online by card has been shown to significantly increase the speed at which clients make payments, so you can enjoy more reliable cash flows.
Trust accounting features
There are many good accounting software on the market, but most of these software aren’t designed to handle the unique needs of family law firms, who need to stay compliant while managing client trust accounts.
The best software solution for your firm should not only help you effortlessly manage your accounting but should also include trust accounting features to help you stay compliant with Bar trust accounting rules.
Today’s attorneys often work on the go—or even from home—so whatever software you choose needs to be able to help your team collaborate from a distance. A cloud-based software solution can allow your attorneys and staff to track time, access important documents, and work on pressing matters from anywhere. And while many law firms have shied away from cloud-hosted software due to security concerns in the past, today’s cloud-based software tools come with rigorous security protections to keep your firm’s confidential client information accessible and safe.
A fully-integrated solution
Your firm can access all of the above features by investing in multiple separate software (one for timekeeping, one for billing and payments, one for project management, etc.). But piecing together multiple software subscriptions is both expensive and inefficient. Without some very robust integrations in place, you’ll often find yourself wasting time copying data between software or making mistakes because your data is siloed off in different systems.
Generally speaking, the more you can accomplish from within a single software, the more smoothly your family law firm will be able to handle its daily operations. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a fully-integrated solution that includes:
- Calendars and scheduling
- Project management tools
- Document management
- Payment processing
- Accounting and more
By pulling all of your firm’s daily work into a single software, you’ll save time, reduce errors and frustration, and be able to deliver the most seamless, efficient possible service for your clients.