Working remotely requires new processes and procedures for nearly all law firms. Depending on where your firm is in terms of adopting case management software, there may be cracks in the system, or, you may need to start using technology, right now, for the first time. Here, we offer 5 tips to find the right technology for your law firm.
Identify Your Issues
It's probably obvious, but what problems are you facing? Are your issues around accessing documents, tracking time, creating invoices, etc.? Focus on what you need to fix.
Be sure to set priorities, too. Being able to track time, create invoices, and receive payments may be closer to the top of the list than adopting a contact relationship manager (CRM). Consider your current set of tools, if any. Perhaps the tools you are already using can help address the issue.
Once you have your set of issues, be sure to prioritize. Remember to think long-term... it can feel a bit urgent right now. But the choices you make now will affect your firm down the road.
Identify Your Limitations
You may be limited by cost, time, or experience, or all three. Before you look at options, be sure to set your limitations and stick to it.
Remember that there may be ways to optimize all of the concerns, including cost, time, and experience. Consider your current spend, the amount of time it takes to complete tasks, and of course, your current experience level. Cost can be an immediate decision point. But remember to look at the functionality provided by that investment. And remember to include the investment of time required to complete tasks, too. If you are more productive with the new technology, even if you spend a bit more, you will easily make that investment up with additional billable time or the ability to take on new clients and matters. Be sure to think holistically about cost and time. For experience, look for a solution or platform that is easy to use and doesn't require a lot of technology know how to manage.
Consider Lots of Options
Be sure to look beyond the first few obvious options. There are a lot of great tools out there that don't yet have big awareness. Be open to several options.
Some good places to start looking are with your Bar Association. The ACBA offers Member Discounts on several options, including SimpleLaw. Not sure what the best option is? Check in with the ACBA. They have deep knowledge and experience with many tech vendors and can quickly give you insight.
When considering options, expand your search past purely functional, individual solutions. By the time you select one tool for time tracking, one for invoicing, and one for bill payment, you will easily spend more than you would if you find a reasonably priced, robust platform.
Consider Additional Benefits
It's important to focus on your needs and not get side-tracked by bright shiny objects. However, based on the pricing, you may end up getting benefits that are the bright shiny objects included with the spend.
Some options have additional benefits that could improve on processes that aren't broken, but could be better. Once you fine-tune your list of providers, consider whether additional features may increase efficiency in areas you didn't identify as problems. In most cases, you will find full platform options deliver greater efficiency because all information is kept in one location and automatically streamlines processes.
Evaluate and decide
The evaluation process is critical. Now that you have identified your options, understand the cost and benefits, and have a short list, it's time to evaluate your options, make a choice, and implement.
Your evaluation criteria should include cloud-based software (so you can work from any location), ease of use, free trial periods, training and support options and the providers responsiveness to user requests. Look for providers that respond to users requests, offer unlimited training, and are regularly releasing enhancements.
The right technology toolset, or better yet, full platform, will improve efficiency for your law firm now and later. Keep the long view, focus on efficiency, and keep an open mind throughout the process.
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