Archive for September, 2012
Organization is often a struggle for law firms, especially when they are in a growth phase. Planning and implementing the right tools now will ensure you are ready for the growth you are working to achieve. Referrals from current and past clients are a gold mine for future business, so don’t miss out to create raving fans about your law services by appearing unorganized.
Take Advantage of Modern Technology
Many firms object to the use of modern technology as either cost prohibitive or difficult to implement. The reality is, taking advantage of modern technology will save you time and money in the long run. Consider Practice Management Software:
- Abacus Law is a software program with full calendar, email and court form integration. It allows to you organize and input client information within the software and access it anywhere from Abacus Sky (a cloud based computing option) or sync your calendar and contacts with your mobile phone through AbacusSync. It has several specialty versions for your particular practice areas including, workers compensation, estate planning and family law.
- Clio is a cloud based practice management program allowing you to manage documents, client information, calendaring, time keeping and billing. It also supports collaboration on documents allowing you to work with other firms regardless of geographic location. As a cloud based program you can access your information anywhere!
- MyCase is also a cloud based practice management program but its strength lies in the Social portion of its design. It allows you to work with your clients and/or office team within the secure portal. Clients can access their case file to provide updated contact information, requested documentation or collaborate on a task. It can streamline your practice by eliminating the need to email documents back and forth between your clients and team members.
If you do utilize cloud based software, be sure to check and double check their security features. This article on the Cloud Security Alliance Blog can give you more information on researching the security of the software you choose.
- Use Virtual Voicemail, Call Routing and Voicemail Conversion – Virtual Voicemail boxes automatically transcribe and email or text you the content of the voicemail you have received in real time. This eliminates the need to call the office and check your voicemail and reduces the likelihood that you will miss an important message. Virtual phone systems can also help you organize your calls and route them to the appropriate team members. Some products to check out are Grasshopper and PhoneTag. Skip the freebies like Google Voice, they sound cool in the beginning, but client calls are something you don’t want to manage with free software.
- Paper and File Management - Most Practice Management software will have file storage, but if you aren’t going to utilize it or you need a data back up system, you will still need to select an electronic filing system. Obviously the folders on your computer will work, but what if you need to share these files with a paralegal or client? How can you keep them secure, and share them, without having to email everything? MakeUseOf.com has an insightful article regarding file storage, back up, and sharing.
The practice of law often involves countless notes; notes from clients, notes from witnesses, resources, everyone you come into contact with. For those of you who are taking notes electronically, high fives all around. If you are still hand writing your interview content, you can take that extra step toward organization by scanning them into the files. Losing an important document or failing to make note of important information can make or break a case. Hard copy documents are expensive, require space to store and are often cumbersome to work with. You can limit the number of pages you have floating around your office by using electronic documents whenever possible. Finally, request documents in electronic format whenever possible – hospitals, doctors offices, employers and the Social Security Administration all utilize electronic formats to some extent or another and being comfortable requesting and using them will make organizing your practice easier. Use a specific email address for document management, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t give up. If people don’t return documents electronically at first, eventually they will get the hint. Keep asking!
It’s not hard to get on the right track. Implement one or two new methods per week, and once you’ve conquered case organization, you will be ready to move onto marketing your practice and implementing systems to grow your business!
Content contributed by Mary Wenzel