Workflows can be as varied as the personalities in your law firm. There is no one perfect workflow. Some programs create “one workflow” that works for most users, and force other users, through training, to adhere to that workflow. This process is called “train the user.” By contrast, in a workflow system, the users “train the developer.” The developer then takes that training and creates a workflow that simplifies and automates the process, so that users can get on with their work. In this light, partnering with a legal practice management consultancy with expertise in workflow can be worthwhile.
Five Reasons Your Law Firm Needs Workflow Software
Below are five reasons your law firm could benefit from a workflow. These are by no means exhaustive, nor may any of these reasons be why your firm should adopt workflow software. Rather, these reasons are designed to nudge you in the right direction and stimulate your cerebral cortex.
1. Automatic Assignment of Tasks and Approvals.
Take, for example, a typical request for documents. When you select a custom action from a button on the matter, the software creates a subpoena duces tecum for the attorney to craft his or her document request. Upon internal approval, the subpoena is routed to a paralegal for service, the date and time of sending are logged to the matter, and an expected return date is calendared. In addition, a message is scheduled to be sent to the associate responsible for follow-up upon receipt of responses. Once the response is received, it is routed to the responsible paralegal to organize and index. On completion, the associate is alerted to review the production and create a memo. Finally, a memo summarizing the results is sent to the partner.
2. Better Allocation of Resources
In many law firms, some staff members get the work done quickly but la
ck good record-keeping skills. These people know “intuitively” what needs to be done but can’t tell you where they are across multiple matters or what more needs to be done. They are always “busy.” Meanwhile, others are sitting around with nothing to do. With workflow software, you can now make fact-based decisions with data supported by tangible evidence. This is because each task and each stage of a workflow process is logged.
3. Getting More Work Out of Your Current Staff
A person can work only so many hours in a day. Each full-time equivalent (or FTE) position requires a salary, allocated overhead, insurance and benefits. The cost of recruiting and training employees can be the equivalent of several month’s salaries. Any tool that allows your current staff to handle a greater volume of work (without having to make additional hires) will add tens of thousands of dollars to your profitability.
4. Reducing Time Spent on Non-Billable Administrative Tasks
Every law firm is, at its core, a business. Workflow is not just for attorneys and paralegals; the same tools used by attorneys can be used by administrative staff. A smooth-running administrative team is also beneficial to the firm, particularly where key decisions need approval from time-pressed attorneys. Workflow can help here.
5. Pre-Bills to Posted Bills to Cash in the Bank
Bills turn into cash much faster when a workflow system is married to a sophisticated legal practice management, billing, and accounting system. This is because the process of billing and accounts Five Reasons Your Law Firm Needs Workflow Software By Centerbase on August 14th, 2017 receivable is full of roadblocks. One of the lawyers on a matter may not have entered all her time. A key partner may have reached a “special understanding” on a bill. Key billing codes on an invoice may need to be adjusted to increase the recoverable portion of the bill when dealing with an insurance company reimbursement policy.
The Workflow You Need is Here Today
The good news is that you don’t need to wait to get the benefits of workflow software. Workflow is part of many practice management systems, both cloud, and desktop client-server. Some programs offer chains and precedents, others offer stages and steps, and others offer nodes and tasks as part of flows. Some programs require user intervention to initiate the workflow; others include the option to automatically trigger the workflow to start and allow for multiple, simultaneous workflows. Regardless of what you call it, these programs recognize the real benefit of defining and using workflows.