Technology is designed to save us time, optimize our work hours and increase our efficiencies. For many lawyers, trusting technology can be intimidating. Technology designed for general business and platforms that are created specifically for law, can help you to more effectively manage your law practice. Here are a few tips for getting on top of tech:
1) Learn the basic programs, and a few tips that go beyond the basics. Did you know that you can drag an email to the calendar icon in Outlook and it will automatically pop up an appointment block for you to fill in and save to your calendar? There are tons of “hacks” available in Outlook and the Microsoft Office Suite. How do you tap into them? Contact your local library, bar association, or even computer store to find out if they offer lessons or tutorials.
2) Work collaboratively with colleagues and/or clients through the cloud. There are cloud-based project management programs that are readily available for a small or minimal charge made for collaboration, like Basecamp, Hive, and Slack, and other services designed for sharing and working on files together, like Dropbox and the Google Drive. Take some time to examine each platform and see what works best for you and your inside or outside team.
3) Create security. One of the most common passwords worldwide is “password123.” A word to the wise? Don’t use this as your password. Use a password comprised of numbers and letters and special characters in your password, and use a different password for every single platform. While this may seem more taxing than necessary, your data and your client’s data relies on your vigilance. An easy hack – invest in a password manager.
4) Automate client updates. Happy clients are those who feel like their matter matters to their attorney. Practicing law and managing a firm take a lot of time, but client communication should always be a priority. Therefore, anything you can do to ensure that your clients are receiving regular
updates can go a long way for fairly little effort. With Case Status, a client relationship and marketing portal for lawyers, you can automate case updates, so that clients can not only track their case but can hear from you at anytime during the process. Even if you are only reporting that there is no news to report, you clients will still appreciate hearing from you directly.
5) Use self-scheduling tools. Save hours of “phone tag” time by simply integrating a scheduling system into your website or blog as part of your intake process. If you have a WordPress website, there are plug in options, but there are many other easy-to-integrate platforms that exist as well. Doodle is a free-to-use platform that lets multiple users check the times they are available for meeting, Calendarly is a platform that can easily embedded into your website, and Abacus Law has a calendar feature built in to its software.
6) Become a PDF pro. Save time, effort, and energy by learning how to navigate PDFs – including how to redact, add pages, and do bates stamping. It will make a world of difference but won’t take you a lot of time once you learn the techniques.
7) Streamline billing and payment processing. Look into LawPay or other credit card processing services specifically for law firms. If you do your own billing, ensure that you are using an online system that allows you to bill and accept payment electronically in order to make it easier for your clients to pay you.
8) Take your research to go. If you’re using one of the big legal research services – LexisNexis, Westlaw, Findlaw, etc. – make sure to use their mobile options to make the most of your time without being tied to your desktop. There are news and legal digests that you can read from your phone or tablet that can keep you up to date on what’s happening in law. Lexblog’s daily “Top Ten in Law Blogs” is a great starting point, and Lexology provides a daily digest of legal news, generally free of charge and sometimes offered through your local bar association.
9) Accept e-signatures. Using modern technology to get signatures on documents and moving files forward saves a lot of time – and money – and avoids mailing costs, messenger services, and other law practice relics of the past. Docusign, HelloSign, and Eversign all are worth looking into to, but there are many others out there as well.
10) Tune in to new trends. Whether via podcast (try New Solo on the Legal Tech Network) or blog posts (we recommend Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites), there are a variety of ways to keep up with what’s happening at the intersection of law and technology, and find tools that may make practice management even simpler.
There are so many ways that technology can make law practice a bit easier. If we let tech take care of the “small stuff,” we get to spend our time working on our client matters, business development, networking, and maybe even having a bit of fun. What tech tips do you have for making your practice run more effectively? We’ll be updating our tech tips from time to time and would love to incorporate some of the ones you suggest – especially the ones that help you save time.
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