For lawyers just starting out, establishing yourself in the legal community can be daunting and inspiring. Even established lawyers can find the ground changing under their feet. There’s an unending list of things to learn and do. Some people feel successful if they can just keep their head above water, though that strategy can leave lawyers vulnerable to market changes.
To stay ahead of the latest trends, lawyers can use technology and data to their advantage. There are many benefits that come from leveraging the cloud for today’s law office and here are a few of the most compelling ones.
Make the Case for Technology
Because law practices can be so craft and r elationship-driven, many lawyers overlook the latest technology. However, the legal industry is starting to recognize that keeping track of data related to efficiency, referral sources, and staff investment can open the door to more effective and efficient operations. Young lawyers can be advocates for the latest technology and know what solutions could have the biggest impact your firm. Introducing senior leaders to new tools and resources that can save time and money are good ways to getting on the partner track.
Put Data to Work
Without question, today’s technology can ensure a more efficient workflow. And while having an efficient workflow is important, technology can offer other benefits. By enabling supervisors and managers to see where the firm is succeeding and where it needs additional focus, data collected about a firm’s caseload can be used to fine-tune the machinery, to optimize the workflow, and to verify that the right people are focused on the right work.
Use It to Advance Your Career
Attorneys can use data to market themselves both internally and to clients. For example, software could easily total a number of successful outcomes for a client, providing a basis for differentiation from competitors or for advancement within a firm. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence, lawyers can point to data to show how efficient and effective they are for their clients and the firm.
For internal career advancement and evaluation, firms typically use metrics like billable hours collected or settlement amounts, but a firm or even an individual attorney could collect metrics, like client satisfaction or successful client outcomes to give a broader picture of their value. It is worth evaluating the data your law firm collects on you to determine whether additional metrics could give insight into the value of your firm’s members and new ways to market to clients.
Many review processes are highly subjective and not always fair. So if you ever wished you could have hard evidence that supported your actual performance level, the same data that’s collected and used to support casework and that enables a streamlined workflow can also be used to show supervisors your actual performance level and include metrics that the firm may not commonly use.
For example, when I was a young lawyer, my law firm didn’t collect data on junior lawyer’s clients. One manager gave me less than the highest ranking on client development potential on a yearly evaluation. However, I already had several of my own clients and had brought in significant collections to the firm. If I had presented that data, I would have provided this insight to my managers to make sure my successes were documented and part of that evaluation.
Streamline Workflows and Processes
We are all creatures of habit and change is hard. However, fear of change can cost lawyers and firms money and client satisfaction. By adopting the latest case management software, lawyers can cut down on administrative work and redirect time and resources to actual client work or prospecting. Today, almost every legal document can be automatically generated, including retainers, welcome letters, and records requests, making it easier for lawyers to focus on client work.
Go Paperless and Be the Office Hero
Paper is not the most effective way to store information, nor is it the most secure. Paper copies are tedious and time-consuming to share between multiple users and multiple locations. Once uploaded into cloud based software, any document is available to multiple users across multiple locations. Document creation and task assignments can be automated. For example, documents can be automatically generated, collected and stored. The possibilities for greater efficiencies in a firm’s workflows and the expanding opportunities for environmental responsibility are vast.
Software is also available that can track information related to a case, compile it, then allow you to access all the relevant data from one source, something that is nearly impossible to do with hardcopy records. Centralized information is far more efficient and provides a much more streamlined workflow. What’s more, information pertaining to the case is much less likely to be misplaced or forgotten.
Chart Your Own Course
Whether you already knew the value of tech in the law office or if you are just beginning to see its potential, there is really one thing to say: use it. If your law office is a slow adopter, become a champion for change. While technology requires a willingness to learn new systems and new behaviors, adopting technology is critical for firms that are going to thrive and understand their clients better.
Even if you’re waiting for your firm to catch on, there’s no reason you can’t adopt the latest tech to improve the way you work. If you are going to thrive in today’s competitive landscape, you’re going to have to embrace today’s technology.