Law firms’ archaic practices are rapidly giving way to innovation as the American Bar Association approves new technologies, including AI, for their work. In fact, the entire industry is set to experience continuous change. With so much disruption afoot, how can a modern law company become more efficient?
The basis of competition in legal work today resides in efficiency. Client expectations and impatience drive demand higher and higher as transparency and profitability come into view for law firms. Below are some practices the most successful law firms are putting into place.
1. Rely on Self-Analysis and Process Optimization in Your Law Company
Track the Time Your Legal Work Takes
The key to efficiency is knowing your firm. Having each member of the team track their time allows you to understand exactly where you experience inefficiency and bottlenecks. Next, investigate further the areas that cost your firm excessive non-billable hours. For example, you could be draining profits by waiting for someone to draft contracts or proofread documents. You can easily fix this problem with legal contract analysis software.
Let Team Members Learn from Each Other
In most law companies, lawyers, paralegals and support staff fall into silos when they need to be productive. They rarely get to view the finer details of each other’s working days. But individuals have a great deal to learn from each other. Therefore, encourage cross-departmental practice sharing. Additionally, allow your team the latitude to pick and choose improved solutions.
Follow the Buyer Journey
Do you know how clients find your law company and what they go through to attain your services? The user experience (UX) journey can be a powerful tool to uncover exactly where clients endure the most frustration. Smoothing this journey demonstrates client care and addresses lapses of efficiency within your client acquisition system.
2. Be Proactive with Your Law Company’s Onboarding Practices
Few things stifle profitability in a law company more than sacrificing billable hours to administrative and other non-billable work. Unfortunately for firms, the reluctance to take on new associates diminishes earning potential. This is because it caps the availability of income-generating hours.
Circumvent this problem by hiring administrative and legal staff before it becomes a critical need. Otherwise, delaying the hiring process creates a logjam and diminishes productivity. Rushing into last-minute hires typically makes for a sloppy onboarding process, but hiring proactively means you do it right the first time.
If there is insufficient work in your law company to employ a team member full time, consider the sub-contracting option. Hired experts specialize in marketing, accounting, taxation, and other services. Their specialties allow them to deliver quickly and cost-effectively.
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3. Automate Your Law Company’s Work
Utilize Cloud Applications
If you run a law company that still uses a fax machine or even Microsoft Word, you are in danger of becoming a dinosaur. Mutually accessible cloud technology has rid us of the need to send documents to and from each other for editing and reviews. Google Drive and other cloud-based settings allow all necessary contributors access at any given time without delay.
Benefit from Efficient Project Management
Firm management is a precarious business. Long, labored meetings, individual conversations, and chasing team members down for progress reports takes law company management away from what they should be doing—winning business and making money. In contrast, project management software allows managers to quickly check the status of all important cases with a swift click.
Digitize Billing and Accounts
If you add up the days it takes to post an invoice and eventually receive the check in the mail, what do you get? Inefficiency. Tracking earnings and reconciling invoices efficiently is a real problem for many law companies. But digitizing the entire payment system creates an expectation of fees, transparency, and accountability. This encourages your clients to trust you and pay on time.
Incorporate Document Preparation Software into Your Law Company’s Processes
Maintaining a healthy rate of response can be the rock inefficient firms perish on. Even before you switch to digital systems, clients expect their business to be attended to immediately. But some firms struggle just to keep up, with non-billable tasks causing massive damage to their profitability. To minimize the time consumption of essential but repetitive tasks, forward-thinking practices are switching en masse to using due diligence, research, and legal contract analysis software.
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4. Invest in Your Legal Team
While outsourcing is certainly an option, sometimes it can be costly. But investing in staff training eases cost inefficiency woes and develops talent currently at your disposal. An additional benefit of staff training is enhanced engagement.
Investing in personnel development shows team members they are valued and important to the firm. In turn, this gives everyone a stronger sense of purpose and collectivism which begets better productivity and results.
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The entire legal sector can rightfully be accused of resisting change for many decades. The technological infusion has been remarkably slow and clients were all too happy to go along with things.
Whether fortunately or unfortunately for law companies, however, those days are over. Transparency and digitization have become more widely available in recent years and tolerance for inefficiency has plummeted. As clients lose patience with slow response rates and lawyers’ resistance to technology declines, those law companies that adopt more efficient models of business will win the competition against other, slower law firms.