Most lawyers don’t go into law because they want to manage a business.
Managing a law firm takes a great deal of time and effort. In order to run a practice, you need to worry about things like hiring, firing, billing, accounting, project management, sales, marketing, and many other facets of running a business that are decidedly not related to practicing law.
In most cases, it’s clear when you should outsource some of the overhead. Most firms don’t do their own bookkeeping and accounting, for example — they hire a CPA or accounting firm to handle that part of the business.
But when it comes to day-to-day management, many firms still pile work on themselves and their team.
Automation is reshaping how work gets done in every sector. And law firms are definitely not an exception.
Much of the tedious and time-consuming work that goes into running your firm on a daily basis can be outsourced — to technology.
Best of all, automation won’t just make your life a bit easier, it can actually help your firm run more effectively and efficiently. With the right tools, you’ll be able to grow the practice without having to worry about the associated overhead and administration.
Let’s look at a few of the key ways automation makes law firm management much simpler.
1. Streamline operations
So much of the day gets eaten up by simple operational tasks. Moving information from one system to another, passing along data between team members and departments or documenting interactions
This is the kind of work that automation was built to accomplish.
Rather than having to stop and think about specific actions or steps that need to happen, the right technology will make it all effortless — and automatic.
This means you spend less time (or ideally, no time at all) on managing and executing basic operational tasks and instead, get to focus on more high-level work.
2. Simplify task management and delegation
How much time and energy goes into simply defining and assigning specific tasks?
This is a pain point for any kind of business. Not only is it time consuming, but it also creates opportunity for confusion and missteps along the way.
Using a tool like Asana to manage projects and tasks allows you to define specific workflows and trigger actions based on the work that’s been done. So, as a case or client moves through specific stages, new tasks can be automatically created and assigned to keep everyone on the same page without manual effort.
3. Time and appointment management
Scheduling and appointments can become a huge undertaking for even small law firms. As the business grows, the amount of time and work it takes to schedule and manage those meetings grows exponentially — each booking requires setup, reminders, and manual logging.
This can put an enormous strain on a growing law office.
This problem is really at the heart of Apptoto’s creation. The system was built to take this tedious and burdensome task of juggling appointments and calendars, and make it into a seamless and pain-free process.
By automating this system, clients can individually book times through online forms. Then, they can enter into pre-configured workflows that automatically send them appointment reminders.
The whole calendar basically gets put on autopilot, which means no one has to take time out of their day to move around time slots or call clients leading up to their appointment date.
4. Reduce overhead and paperwork
Slowly but surely, we are moving away from the papered office. More systems and processes are now digital, which means we need paperwork — and the associated overhead — less and less.
Even processing a simple paper form might take an individual one to two minutes. This seems trivial in the course of a workday. But over the course of a year, that same form may be processed some 500 separate times.
At that point, just processing this single form will have eaten up nearly 20 work hours — half a week spent processing the same form over and over again!
Automation can help make this process easier (and way less time consuming).
Automated workflows and tools like HelloSign can completely eliminate the need for paperwork and automatically process documents instantly. This can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent processing forms and inputting data. Plus, it allows you to catalog, index, and search any and all data that would otherwise exist in paper format.
5. Mitigate errors and miscommunications
One of the other major problems associated with paperwork and manual administration is the opportunity for error or miscommunication.
Information and data may need to change hands many times over the course of working with any single client. Each one of those exchanges is an opportunity for a mistake to occur or for someone to misunderstand the intent or purpose.
Studies have found that misunderstandings and miscommunication costs businesses an estimated $62 million per year. Communication barriers in general cost businesses over $25,000 per employee per year.
So, it follows that a business that automates these kinds of tasks can reduce the opportunity for error and eliminate miscommunication between individuals.
6. Effortless tracking of leads and sales pipeline
At the center of any growing business is a sales process and pipeline.
Businesses often hobble together all kinds of different ways to track and manage the sales pipeline and stay in touch with prospective clients. But of course, this takes a ton of time and manual work. Not to mention the fact that as humans, we are prone to forget or overlook important steps in the process.
In other words, manually managing the sales pipeline is likely costing your firm business and growth.
By automating the sales pipeline and lead tracking process, you can create a clear sales cycle and smart features like reminders to keep prospects moving from one stage to the next.
7. Worry-free accounting/billing
Last — but certainly not least — is the role of automation in accounting and billing.
This is a place where automation can make your practice run more smoothly and ease tension with clients.
You can automate recurring billing and invoices, plus automatically send reminders to clients who haven’t paid within the allotted time.
By using an integrated system like Clio, you can also roll tracked time right into client billing, so there’s no need to manually collect and reconcile billable hours for each client.
Note: Apptoto integrates seamlessly with Clio!
As a whole, automation can be a powerful tool for a law firm of any size.
Whether it’s a one-person shop looking to optimize time and revenue or a multi-office conglomerate comprising dozens of practicing attorneys, there are always overhead tasks and administrative work that takes time without adding value. That’s where automation comes into play.
By simplifying and streamlining these tasks and processes, law firm management becomes much simpler. But more importantly, it allows the people in the firm to focus on doing what they do best.
Less tedium means more focus on clients and casework.