We often hear lawyers say they went to law school to study law, not to learn how to run a firm. When faced with challenging daily tasks, such as managing invoices and reconciling trust account transactions, even the most brilliant legal minds struggle to build a successful practice.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. In this article, we share 10 technology tools that:
- Streamline law firm workflows
- Reduce administrative headaches
- Free you up to do what you do best: represent your clients
According to more than 2,000 survey respondents who participated in MyCase’s 2021 Legal Industry Report, 61% of lawyers find capturing billable time a challenge.
It’s not surprising—billable minutes often slip through the cracks when jumping from matter to matter or juggling emails and phone calls. Trying to log time entries using emails and calendar events retroactively can lead to inaccurate timesheets and, as a result, inaccurate bills.
To resolve these issues, attorneys are turning to legal time management software. In fact, more than 80% of lawyers use legal time-tracking software to lighten the load (as reported in our Legal Industry Report).
MyCase time-tracking software, for example, allows you to start and stop up to three timers. With this feature, you can capture and log all billable time as you switch between matters. If you forget to start a timer, our software will alert you to track time when you complete a task, such as sending an email. The benefits are significant.
- Capturing Hours That Previously Went Unbilled
Our research determined that more than half of law firms recorded additional time after implementing legal time tracking software, with 9% of firms reporting at least 15 additional hours billed per month.
- Logging Time More Quickly
Less time on administrative work frees up more billable hours for your team.
- Increasing Invoice Accuracy
Tracking every minute means you can be paid fairly for your hard work, which drives firm profitability.
Automated Billing and Invoicing Software
Generating invoices and managing payments are essential to a law firm’s financial success. Unfortunately, they’re also among the most time-consuming tasks. In the MyCase Legal Industry Report, 73% of surveyed lawyers stated that their firm struggles to get paid. And 80% claimed that law firm profitability is a significant challenge.
Legal invoicing software automates the billing process, which can:
- Save time
- Enable more timely and consistent billing
- Provide greater oversight into your firm’s financials
- Create a better client experience, especially if they can pay directly through the invoice with a digital payment method
With MyCase legal invoicing software, your firm can use time-tracking entries or flat fees to generate itemized invoices quickly. Then, easily send bills to your clients with just a few mouse clicks. Afterward, you’ll see when a client views or takes action on an invoice. You can even choose whether to automate invoice reminders.
Legal Payments Software
Law firms that accept online payments get paid 32% faster than those that don’t, according to anonymized data from MyCase users. (Learn more in our Benchmark Report, Part Two: How Lawyers Get Paid.)
If that sounds like a hassle, don’t worry. Efficient payment processing software makes accepting digital payments easy. What should you look for when assessing payment software for lawyers?
- User Experience
How simply can your team accept payments? Is the system easy for clients to navigate?
- Payment Methods
Does the software accept debit and credit cards, eChecks, and electronic payments? Can your firm accept credit cards in-person, online, and through email? If your firm must issue a refund, does the payment processor facilitate that transaction?
- Compliance With ABA and IOLTA Guidelines
Payments processing software should help you remain in compliance with regulations. For example, LawPay (our sister company under AffiniPay) can ensure that no debits are allowed from your IOLTA. (MyCase customers who sign up for LawPay pay no monthly fees on this additional service for the life of the account.)
- Flexible Features
Do you want to offer additional features, such as scheduled payments, payment plans, or buy now, pay later? With ClientCredit through LawPay, you can allow clients to opt into automatic payment plans while your firm receives the entire invoiced amount upfront.
Does the legal payments software provide best-in-class security to protect sensitive data?
- Integration With Legal Practice Management Software
Your firm’s payments software should integrate with your legal practice management software to streamline billing and collections. LawPay, for example, integrates seamlessly with MyCase to reduce administrative overhead. After tracking time and automatically generating an invoice in MyCase, your client can pay their bill via LawPay payments processing software. The invoice will reflect as paid in your MyCase dashboard—ensuring seamless, constant oversight.
What do other lawyers have to say about the legal payments software? How widely adopted is it among solo practitioners and small, medium, and large firms? Does the software company partner with any bar associations or industry-leading organizations? For instance, LawPay serves more than 50,000 lawyers and is vetted and recommended by all 50 state bars, more than 60 local and specialty bars, and the ABA.
Legal Accounting Software
Nearly 50% of lawyers struggle to reconcile trust accounts, per the MyCase Industry Report. This can be even more challenging for firms using third-party accounting tools that aren’t designed for lawyers, such as QuickBooks.
Comprehensive legal accounting software can help you manage trust account transactions to stay compliant with state bar regulations. MyCase Accounting, for example, fully integrates into MyCase and offers three-way trust reconciliation. It can also keep your finances on the course—tracking transactions and cash flow, centralizing your firm’s financial data, and enabling financial projections.
Automated Client Intake Forms
The intake process is an integral part of profitability because, without clients, your firm has no income. Unfortunately, client intake can be time-consuming if your firm doesn’t have the right tools and processes.
With automated client intake forms, you can minimize manual work and enable potential clients to provide contact information via your law firm’s website anytime, day or night. The results speak for themselves; our research determined that lawyers using online legal intake forms captured significantly more leads than manual lead intake.
- 35% of surveyed attorneys said they captured one to 10 additional leads per month after integrating online legal intake forms.
- 13% of lawyers captured 11 to 20 additional leads per month.
- 6% of law firms captured more than 21 additional leads per month.
Here’s how an automated intake process works using MyCase client intake forms.
- Your law firm can customize each intake form. Add your logo and tailor form fields to various practice areas and/or stages of your intake pipeline.
- Embed the form on your website.
- After a prospect fills out and submits their form, the data should automatically sync to a client file on your MyCase law firm customer relationship management (CRM) system.
- When you receive an alert about a new form submission, your team can conduct a quick phone screen to assess whether the case is relevant to your law firm’s practice area(s).
- MyCase client intake forms ensure that their intake information syncs directly to the client case file if you retain the client. This prevents the need to manually transfer data, which takes time and is prone to human error.
Because conflict-checking is an integral part of a law firm’s intake process, it’s no surprise that most firms use conflict-checking technology. In fact, according to the ABA Profile of the Profession 2021, the software most often available in law firms is conflict-checking software (used by 67% of lawyers).
So many firms already use this type of software because it makes accurate, timely, and ethically-compliant conflict checks easy. But not all conflict-checking software is created equal.
The best ones use full-text search to quickly and accurately check electronic client records and case-related information. This can ensure ethical compliance without spending a significant amount of non-billable time searching through law firm data.
Cloud-Based Document Management
COVID-19 forever changed the way that law firms do business. As teams adapted to remote and/or hybrid working environments, many implemented collaboration tools to promote efficiency among scattered team members.
Today, approximately two-thirds of lawyers use software to manage their firm’s documents, as shared in our 2021 Industry Report.
- Of attorney survey respondents whose firms used document management software, 94% said that the tools made document sharing easier.
- In addition, 92% claimed that the software made document collaboration easier.
With MyCase legal document management software, lawyers and clients can collaborate on a central document. It updates in real time on mobile and desktop, ensuring everyone has access to the most up-to-date document version.
Highly efficient firms can save even more time by integrating eSignature capabilities into their document management software. This makes it easy for clients to sign and return important case documents to avoid costly delays. After they’re signed, the completed forms automatically link to the appropriate case file.
Legal Calendaring Software
Does your team find it difficult to juggle frequent, changing deadlines? Do you have to email back and forth to find availability on everyone’s calendars? Do prospects frequently no-show to consultations?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, your firm could benefit from legal calendaring software. It not only reduces the risk of missed deadlines but also helps to coordinate with your entire team (and clients) regarding meetings and firm-wide appointments.
Stay up-to-date on team availability and upcoming events with a centralized calendar. You can also receive automatic or pre-scheduled reminders and updates via text message. Or, schedule them for clients to improve your firm’s consultation attendance rate.
The best part is, great legal calendaring software doesn’t require your law firm to switch calendars. If you already use Google or Outlook for calendaring, simply integrate MyCase legal calendaring software with your existing setup. Event updates will sync to all integrated calendars in real time to eliminate wasted time on data duplication.
Nearly 70% of surveyed lawyers reported that client communication is a challenge for their firms, as shared in our 2021 Legal Industry Report. If you want to improve client communication without adding countless administrative hours, try law firm client portal software.
A legal client portal, such as the MyCase Client Portal, is an ecosystem where lawyers and clients can securely interact. Your law firm can send messages, share case updates and documents, deliver invoices, address questions, and more. This provides a variety of benefits to your firm and clients.
A centralized attorney-client portal significantly reduces or eliminates the multiple systems and logins your colleagues need to learn, manage, and maintain. Additionally, clients always know where to go for their needs.
By streamlining workflows and client communication, your team can minimize administrative work and focus on billable tasks that drive law firm profitability.
- Client Engagement and Empowerment
Client portal software may significantly improve the client experience. The software provides a direct line of communication between clients and your firm. As a result, your clients are likely to feel like they’re receiving one-on-one service.
To discover the key features that your legal client portal must have, check out the MyCase blog.
Get the Tech Tools Your Firm Needs—All in One Place
At this point you may be thinking: These tools all sound great, but implementing and managing each of them sounds like a huge hassle. That’s the beauty of legal practice management software—it combines everything that your law firm needs in one place.
For example, MyCase is an all-in-one case management software designed for lawyers. We offer a comprehensive suite of features, including the following.
- Time and expense tracking
- Billing and invoicing
- MyCase Payments
- MyCase Accounting
- Client intake forms
- Document management
- Built-in text messaging
- MyCase Client Portal
- Powerful integrations with the business tools you already use
On average, our clients see a 38% increase in caseloads and gain more than three billable hours per day. Try MyCase free for 10 days to see how productive and profitable your law firm can be.
Note: Pieces of this article originally appeared on the MyCase blog.