As business moves into the digital age, there are now more online marketing, case management, and data tools available today to assist law firms with workflow, billing, collaboration, and other essential business functions. The challenge is not deciding whether or not your firm can benefit from automation and productivity software, but which type of software suits your organizational culture and preferences.
1. Billing Software
Accurately recording billable hours for consultation, research, or record procurement is an essential part of maintaining profitability for a law firm. The days of maintaining paper files for billing are long gone, and most software applications offer convenient mobile apps that can record and collect details, and migrate the information for billing into a central accounting system.
AbacusLaw is a popular software program that integrates with other online payment services, including Law Pay, and also provides metrics and data analytics to review case activity and billable time to measure performance. There are thousands of other trusted software options also available to choose from.
2. Financial Analytics and Accounting
Managing cashflow, salary, and benefit expenses for your team, assets, and monthly expenditures is an essential part of growing a financially successful law firm. Many law firms (and CPAs) use Intuit QuickBooks Pro, which is available as a cloud-based accounting software system that can be accessed from a secure server online, anywhere. Indianapolis personal injury lawyers shared that one of the conveniences of working within the cloud for accounting is that most platforms include a mobile app, which is a timesaver for independent proprietor small firms, or multiple partner firms, that want real-time access to financials.
3. Contact and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A growing law firm requires management tools that enable it to capitalize on referrals, and repeat business. Depending on the nature of the practice, some clients may engage with the firm monthly, annually, or only as needed, with large gaps of time between billable services. How does a legal firm maintain active contact with clients in an appropriate way, in order to retain them and generate new business?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are tools that manage both the contact information of your client, as well as convenient features that allow law firms to stay in touch. Successful CRM programs can include sending seasonal or birthday greetings, or a monthly newsletter about legal topics, news, and considerations that may benefit clients. One of the most popular CRM platforms for law professionals is LexisNexis.
4. Practice Management (HIPAA) Compliant Data Storage
Paper files are still part of doing business for law firms, as copies of documents are always required for case work and research. However, increasingly, where this data is stored is moving from the file box and into the cloud, with secure storage and document collaboration software.
Box is a new, HIPAA compliant online data and file storage service that is highly rated in the United States by law professionals. The software offers secure FTP file uploading, file synchronization and sharing, and document asset management, and tracking. Data encryption is an essential necessity for all files and confidential client information.
5. Case Management and Collaboration
The majority of time is spent not with clients, but in processing file data, research, statements, and other legal collateral. Billable hours can be optimized by using a comprehensive case management and secure file collaboration software platform.
CaseFox is a popular new software program that is highly reviewed by legal practice professionals. The software includes a robust, but easy to use, case management and document management system, and allows file attachments to be created on case notes to better organize records and key case collateral. It also integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, and other essential software. It allows an activity report on access points for data, allowing you to see who has opened files, commented or edited, and uploaded new information in an activity summary.
6. Digital Marketing Tools
Small, medium, and large firms are vying daily for corporate or private clients, and no matter where a law firm is based, the competition for case work and new clients is waged online through digital marketing. Everything from website traffic to social media management, providing insightful content on the blog to placing articles and guest publishing opportunities on authority media sites is done through a strategic digital marketing plan, designed to help your firm grow.
There are a number of new digital marketing platforms introduced in 2016 that are addressing the unique marketing needs of legal firms, including Law Firm Marketing 360,® and Salesforce.
The digital marketing software suites offer a turn-key solution for law firms in the cloud, integrating content management and pay-per-click online sponsored advertising software, with analytics reporting, where firms can track the performance of marketing efforts against traffic, website ranking improvements, and more.
Creating a productive and thriving law practice requires an investment in essential software to manage data and collaboration, procure and retain new clients, and market services efficiently. Increasingly, law firms are also investing in IT and digital marketing personnel to manage automatization of document and workflow, and maintain the security and compliance of data security requirements.
As the practice of law inches from paper to complete digital management, it offers the opportunity to reduce costs and redundancies, while improving performance and profitability for law firms. The investment in both people and software tools pays off.