Five Reasons Why Your Law Firm Needs Automation
Are you a personal injury lawyer who has not yet automated your business processes? Are you struggling to understand why you should automate your firm when you already have a method of operating that has worked well for years? According to Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motor Corporation, "the ideal conditions for making things are created when machines, facilities, and people work together to add value without generating any waste."
Five Ways Your Law Firm Will Benefit From Automation
1. Internal Processes
If you haven't yet automated your internal processes, it probably feels like a large part of your daily work consists of completing the same documentation over and over. In actuality, it probably is. The amount of information generated in a typical legal case is immense, and most of the documents required are necessary for each client. Automation not only allows a repeatable process and collection of information but stores copies of these files digitally so that all of your information about a client is kept together and easily accessible.
Some of the ways you can make automation of your internal processes work for you include:
- The ability to communicate with clients in a secure, email format.
- The ability to provide required documents to the client to fill out before the initial consultation takes place. This frees up the time allotted for the consultation to be used discussing the actual case and talking about the firm, instead of using that time to gather basic information about the prospective client.
- The ability to provide specific updates about cases, including the status and notification of important upcoming deadlines or dates.
Viles & Beckman, a Florida personal injury firm, ensures their clients know what’s happening with their case every step of the way.
“Client experience is an asset that every business has the power to control,” says Marcus Viles, one of the founding attorneys of Viles & Beckman. “In order to elevate your firm above the competition, you need to literally design every touchpoint between your firm and your clients, so that at each turn, your clients feel like you value them and the outcome of their case above profits.”
2. Providing Online Client Services
Automation also provides ease for your clients, with the ability to pay their legal fees and see the documents gathered in their case easily. If you aren't yet providing online services for your clients, be aware that many law firms are, and the ability for clients to access information about the status of their case online is quickly becoming an industry standard as it provides an added layer of convenience and time-savings for law firms and clients alike.
“Most family-based immigration matters can be handled via email and phone,” says Judith Delus Montgomery, an immigration and divorce lawyer based in Atlanta. “Our clients appreciate the fact that they do not have to come into the office. We can handle most things virtually, and we routinely use webinars to help educate potential clients on immigration changes and other family law matters.”
3. Attracting New Clients
Clients are busy and, depending on the circumstances of their case, they often have a lot of stressors that they're dealing with when they contact your firm. The ability to make contact with and interact with you about their case securely online helps to ease the stress of their situation, and leave them with the feeling that your firm is responsive to their needs.
Attracting new clients is every firm's top priority. Without clients, there is no revenue, and without revenue, you can’t help people.
There are a lot of ways you can generate clients. Louis Grande, personal injury lawyer in Providence, R.I. finds that creating useful content has been an integral part of his strategy.
“In the injury space, competition is fierce,” says Mr Grande. “A lot of firms do and say everything they can to sign a client. What we’ve found that works well for us is creating content that is informative and transparent, so someone visiting our site can learn a lot about what to do after an injury just by reading our site. Doing things this way has increased the quality of our clients because by the time they call, they are usually well-informed and have decided we are the firm they want to work with.”
4. Client Management
The average district court judge in the U.S. sees over 400 new case filings a year. In addition to trials, these judges also conduct pre-trial conferences, settlement conferences, motions, and hearings. The parties in these cases mostly are represented by attorneys, and many attorneys have several clients they're representing. We don't need to tell you that a single court case can generate hundreds of pages of documents. Manage your client's case more efficiently by automating your processes. This ensures that:
- Your client has signed all necessary paperwork and everything -- including client intake information, communication, and tracking/billing is in an easy-to-access location and format.
- Repetitive internal processes are streamlined, such as letters of engagement, AML, and repetitive work such as drafting advice and legal documents.
- All communications with your client are in a centralized location where they can be accessed by your legal team and even your client. Your client has the ease of being able to access needed information about his or her case and to contact you at their own convenience.
- The ability for you and your client to schedule meetings with a simple keystroke rather than endless rounds of phone tag.
- You receive notifications of important upcoming deadlines for your client's case as well as missing information.
Alexis Austin, a successful DUI lawyer and founder of Automatic Firm, had this to say: “Automation only works if the processes you are automating are battle-tested and proven. ‘Automation’ is a buzzword that gets people excited about doing less work, but the reality is that automating your firm requires you to distill every single detail into a step by step process. Once you understand everything that is involved in helping a client through their journey can you optimize and automate the entire process. So, my best advice is to first, document your current workflow, and then decide what you can successfully automate. It’s a lot of trial and error in the end, but when it’s all put together, you’re truly in a position to scale.”
Automated calendaring is yet another way of improving your services for clients, by allowing you to not only access and use a calendar to keep your engagements organized, but also providing a means to conveniently schedule appointments with your client. You simply allow the client to access a blind calendar that shows the times you are available to meet and pick an available appointment time that fits with their schedule.
With an estimated 87 percent of adults now regularly using the internet, automation provides a number of ways that you can easily get through the burden of legal paperwork, leaving more time for a quality work/life balance and more time and energy for helping your clients. Automation also gives your clients peace of mind that their files are in order and that communication with their attorney is easy and convenient.
Automating repetitive tasks allows you and your attorneys to spend more time on billable hours, working cases or growing the firm.
Anything that can be automated, should.
The easiest way to understand how to do this is:
- Outline your client journey, step by step.
- Determine what steps can be eliminated (if any).
- Document ALL your processes, so they are easy to follow.
- Automate what you can using Zapier and other tools.
- Outsource what you can so your team can focus on their core competencies.
- Delegate any tasks that cannot be outsourced to your staff.
- FOCUS on building the firm you want to have.
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