Law practice management solutions are designed to help law firms automate and streamline the process of organizing, storing, and tracking your client and matter information in one centralized location. If you’ve been to an industry conference recently, or browsed the internet looking for practice management solutions, you may have noticed there are an abundance of these products on the market, which may leave you thinking: “What’s all the fuss about?” and “What can a product like this really do to help my firm?” I’d like to share a few of the key benefits in this article.
Cloud practice management tools will help your firm reduce non-billable time, making your firm more profitable.
A recent study conducted by Thomson Reuters indicated that up to 40% of a small law firm’s time is spent on administrative and non-billable activities. These activities include searching for and finding matter documents, cataloging client information, scheduling, client and conflict management, time tracking, and invoicing. Without having a practice management solution in place, firm staff are likely performing these tasks in manual fashion, and are likely using separate, un-integrated systems to perform these tasks.
A good law practice management solution will provide a return on investment to the firm in the form of reductions in attorney and staff time spent on administrative activities as the tool should provide systematic automation of these types of tasks.
With a system designed for a legal practice—including features such as contact and matter management, conflict checking, filing and sorting tools, the ability to save documents, notes, schedules, communications, billing information, time entries, and research tied to client and matter files—firms can expect to see as much as an eight hour per month reduction in non-billable activity, consequently freeing up attorney time to generate billable hours and revenue for the firm, and freeing up support staff time to complete higher-level work.
Cloud practice management tools help your firm save on overhead costs.
If asked five years ago whether law firms were comfortable with considering cloud or hosted technology to manage their confidential practice information, the answer was in all likelihood a resounding “no.” As a growing number of firms have begun to understand more about what the cloud is and how it works, the answer is shifting quickly toward “yes.”
Many aspects of using cloud-based technology that were previously perceived as risks are now accepted as advantages over traditional paper filing systems and server-based tools. With cloud practice management tools, you are accessing the system on the internet, so you are able to take advantage of the mobility the internet provides, including the ability to use them on your mobile devices. One of the most measurable advantages of using cloud technology versus paper or installed software is the savings in physical storage space and direct IT costs for servers and IT support. By moving to the cloud, firms can expect to cut storage and production costs for things like real estate, equipment including servers, and IT staff.
Cloud practice management tools can help protect your firm against risk of data loss and data breach.
Another aspect of cloud technology to consider is data security. The 2015 ABA Legal Technology Survey indicated that one in ten small law firms have had a data loss of some sort (either digital or physical). Closely associated with data loss is the threat of a data breach, which 11% of solo and 16% of 2-10 attorney firms are reported to have experienced. By partnering with a cloud hosting provider as part of your practice management system, you will likely step up your level of data security. Cloud hosting providers will likely have a much more sophisticated system in place than a small law firm would for back-up, data encryption protocol (for data in transit through client portals, and data in storage,) intrusion-detection, virus protection, physical security of the servers, and natural disaster protections.
These are some of the key benefits your firm will realize with the adoption of cloud-based practice management. There are many other features and functionality to consider when evaluating a cloud-based practice management solution, and chances are there is a product on the market that will meet your firm’s needs.
Larisa Tehven is a marketing manager at Thomson Reuters specializing in law practice management software, including Firm Central.