This is a guest post by Chelsey Lambert, founder and CEO of Lex Tech Review.
As a legal technology specialist, I see a lot of solutions built to solve the challenges of today’s law firm. What’s more important, and the focus of this article, are the law firms who routinely contact me for help and guidance.
Over the years, city after city, state by state, the same patterns appear: Law firms and their staff who want to invest in technology...but something is holding them back. I’d like to take a moment to discuss the patterns and methodologies that hold so many of us back from fully committing to tools that can dramatically improve our businesses and lives.
Well established attorneys reach out to me who are still running on a legacy system, asking for guidance. For most, the deadline for renewal has long passed and the server running their business is on its last leg.
So often we get caught up in the investments we made years ago. I recognized that tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, software licenses, hardware, IT support and more have been paid.
The process of change is hard, migrations usually cause an increase in stress, but in the end upgrading to a tool that can support you for years to come is the best choice for the business. By delaying the investment, you create an unnecessary handicap. One that impacts morale, threatens client service and your reputation.
Consider the cost of operating in a less than efficient environment, not the cost of what you have previously spent on the hardware and technology that helped the practice grow to what it is today.
Delegation is the stranglehold of running a solo or small law firm. We call delegation a people powered option, when in fact you can also delegate to technology. Here are some examples:
Every law firm has a core set of documents and processes that guide a potential new client through intake, scheduling the appointment, and retaining the law firm. Invest in technology or services that automate the small tasks involved in each step of the process. While they take time to set up, and some result in frustrations of trial and error, you will find that afterwards your workload will feel lighter every time you witness the benefit of these tools. Give one or more of these a try:
Do you practice exclusively in one area of law? The level of customization now available with cloud software, such as case or practice management platforms, is astounding. A major turning point for these providers was the ability to integrate with practice area-specific tools. Here are a few noteworthy options for law firms who focus on a niche.
Whether we like it or not, text messaging is the new dominant form of consumer communication. Consider how your own conversations have moved from fax and phone to email and text. A trend that cannot be ignored, clients now expect case updates, meeting reminders, and the ability to message their law firm’s team over text message.
The key to adapting to this need while maintaining ethical compliance is to use technology built to securely handle the job. Practice Management platforms now offer built-in text message templates, or integrate with solutions such as Zipwhip to extend and document secure communications over text.
A best practice is to use a legal-specific and web-based system that multiple staff members can access. Confidential case-related information should not be shared on employees' personal cell phones. Instead, send a link via text that takes the client into a client portal where they can discuss your case securely through a service like Zipwhip or Pinger, so an audit trail of your communication is documented.
New tools are also available to extract evidence and billable time from text messages on your phone. Two all-star newcomers featured in this year’s ABA TECHSHOW Startup Alley are: Time Miner, which pulls text message data from your phone and turns it into time records, and Evichat, which extracts text message evidence from clients' mobile devices for use in litigation.
Expect to see the list of legal-specific text message services and integrations explode in the coming year. I’m very excited to see growth in this category.
While the above list of shiny software and cool new integrations sounds great, there’s one missing piece that defines the success of any technology investment: your commitment.
You can spend all the money in the world on technology and services, but if you don’t fully commit to, or participate in, the on-boarding and training process you will not achieve the full value of your purchase. Every organization mentioned offers world-class training and support. Do not blame the product or service provider; it is your responsibility to own the outcome of your investment. If things aren’t going right, or you need help, speak up! Then, if it doesn’t work out, you know that you did everything you could, and will feel much better about making progress instead of staying where you were.
Motivate your team to try new things, encourage yourself and them to adapt. There is no limit to the positive impact a well-trained, technology-equipped, and properly motivated employee can have on your business. Have faith and invest in yourself and your team, just as much as you do the technology you buy.