Non-billable hours are not ideal
There are ways to ensure your law firm spends time with what’s most important (your casework). Small firms and solo practices can feel this heavy burden and get trapped in a whirlwind of, “I don’t have time to set that up. I’m already too busy!”
The irony is not lost here. For example, setting up automation will save time and money, but when do busy firms have time to set it up? According to the 2019 Legal Trends Report, the average lawyer in the United States works only 2.5 hours of billable work each day. That means that when compared to a standard 8-hour workday, the typical lawyer only has a 31% utilization rate. For this reason, automation is vital to your success.
Reducing your non-billable hours is entirely doable, and it all comes down to modern technology. With powerful tools at hand, priority-based planning, and accurate management, you can chip away at what’s not worth your valuable time. There are areas in your workflow that are holding you back, and some things aren’t worth automating, but many of your tasks will function even better with proper automation.
How automation will help your law firm excel
Consequently, your law firm should be thinking about growth, not tedious tasks. Modern technology can check a lot of work off your list, allowing you the freedom to attract new clients and service the clients you currently have. The essential factor is that you won’t be losing the human element. Your firm simply wastes less time on the monotonous tasks that pull the most time with no benefit.
There are so many reasons to automate your workflow, and saving money is a huge factor. Here are a few of the most important reasons why your law firm should consider automating tasks:
- Removes human-related errors
- Duplicate data entry is impossible
- Creates a better client experience
- Improves attorney satisfaction due to time-saved
- Increased transparency and communication
- Decrease in overhead costs
- Level the playing field with your competition without breaking the bank
Where to start when automating your law firm
Furthermore, just with any task at hand, we have to put one foot in front of the other. Knowing where to start with automation can be overwhelming, but it can be broken down into manageable steps with expert guidance. The first thing to consider is which tasks are the most menial and tedious; these are most likely work items that can be automated.
Step 1: Evaluate the merit of each task
Create a list of each task that you dislike or which takes up a ton of your time. Now it’s time to decide which are good candidates for automation.
Step 2: Create a plan of action
Most likely, numerous tasks fit the criteria; the challenge can be changing your workflow. Prioritizing implementation is vital. Just make sure you don’t jeopardize the attorney-client relationships that you’ve already built.
Step 3: Investigate automation tools
Many tools can help your law firm in the long run, but knowing which will help your list is critical. Budget and timeline are significant factors to consider, so understanding what your firm needs right now will cut out a lot of the more advanced tools that sound great, but you may not need all they have to offer. Look over your list and pick the simplest areas to start with, whether it’s chatbots or integration software, knowing what you need will help you determine what you don’t need.
Step 4: Management transformation
Implementation of change can be scary for any size law firm. Make sure your staff is prepared, aware, and trained for the transformation ahead. Communication is essential to keep a team on target.
Step 5: Review, test, experiment, and conclude
Automation isn’t just about “set-and-forget.” Evaluating your tools and determining how they’re working is an integral part of the process. With customization options built into your tools, knowing what’s working well and what could be improved on will help your firm in the long run. Don’t forget to ask for feedback to conclude if your automation tools function correctly; input can be from staff members or clients.
Best-automated tasks for law firms
If you feel burdened by all the options of what can be automated, we’ve compiled a list of the best-automated tasks for you to consider. Workflow and knowing what can be cut back can be daunting, but law firms have tremendous success with these automated categories.
Building a relationship with your client begins with the client intake process. We all know how crucial first impressions are, and with sensitive information being collected, you want to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The intake process is a great place to start automating, allowing your client to do a portion of the work for you at no hassle to the individual. It’s simple to set up and will save you money due to time-saved. For any case type, you need a basic level of information from your lead; Name, date of birth, location, etc., which can be filled out in a form by the lead on your website or a landing page.
Integration from form to internal staff is seamless, so after said lead sends off their information, this can sync to your case management software.
Gone are the days of non-stop phone calls with clients. The new era of chatbots and automated communication has changed the way law firms do business. Many law firms are missing out on the advantages of utilizing technology to help ease the workload of talking with their clients.
After all, people don’t want to wait to have a question answered; even on Sunday at 11 pm, you need to be available to your clients. Automated tools that will help ease the burden of client questions even outside of business hours are a great place to start automating your law firm. This can reduce the cost of outsourcing to call centers or handling all inquiries on your own.
Nevertheless, invoices and customers do not always equal a paycheck. Luckily, there are ways to automate your collections so that this is not an issue you have to face moving forward. Countless law firms struggle with collections, this is most likely due to the fact that legal fees can be steep and customers are wary of paying, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Your work and expertise are valuable; that’s why your clients need your help. Ensuring you receive the funds you’re deserved is critical.
Electronic collection is the surefire way to make sure you’re getting paid for your services. Furthermore, this also eliminates the worry that you’ll let something slip through the cracks and forget to follow up with an unpaid invoice.
Lastly, word of mouth is always a powerful form of marketing, and positive reviews are no different. Setting up automated reviews is a great way to promote your law firm and keep a dialogue with your clients going. When you settle a case, a happy client is more likely to give you a positive review, but the initiation needs to be quick. Sending out a request for a review months down the line is not a good way of operating.
A simple solution is automating a form that your client will fill out, prompting if they felt they had a good experience with their case management. If your client was happy with their experience, you can request a review. After all, this will save you the hassle of pulling reviews from every client, satisfied or unsatisfied. It will also allow you to collect reviews that show your firm off in a positive light.