5 areas that will benefit most from legal automation in your law firm. (A beginners guide)

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Since law offices are administrative based, revenue earned in this profession is still mostly based on hours billed for work on behalf of their clients. Non-billed hours are an inescapable fact for any law office and take a lot of time every day. It includes formal and legal work that is separate from client work, client intake, charging and classification, and practice management tasks. This is where legal automation can help a law office.

Non-billable tasks are important to maintain and grow your law firm. But at the same time, they cost money to execute and consume time that could otherwise be used for earning revenue. This is particularly a problem for small and solo practices that have fewer revenue streams available to offset such expenses, compared to large practices.

Why automate law firm processes?

Legal advisers can computerize much of their work with current innovations. It allows your law office to support your clients and attract new business more effectively.

With legal automation and law office automation, you are not eliminating the human element of the practice. Rather, you are spending less time on time-intensive yet menial tasks and more time in areas that require your skills and expertise.

Here’s how legal automation is important, and how focusing on the common law office cycles will benefit your association:

  • Removes room for human error related to duplicate data entry.

  • Creates a better client experience when processes they interact with directly are automated or self-service (such as filling out forms).

  • Increases attorney satisfaction because they can spend more time on billable work and other revenue-producing activities. 

  • Improves communication and transparency between your law firm’s staff and clients. 

  • Legal automation decreases the overhead costs of staffing and other fees associated with a conventional law office. 

  • If you’re a solo or small firm, legal automation levels the playing field by enabling you to stay competitive on a smaller budget.

Areas that benefit the most from law automation

Law firms are full of processes that don’t require the attention and time of attorneys, or even staff. Law office automation is a way of using technology to complete these repetitive processes, from intake to invoice. We’ll be highlighting the top five ways you can implement law office automation. 

Client intake automation

Client intake is the critical step where client and case information is collected, and where clients have their first direct touchpoint with your law firm.

Legal automation platforms allow you to modify structures to suit a customer’s case requirements; like client’s name, company name, billing information, etc. and from law firm’s end; practice area, documents etc.

Your firm can automate portions of this process by allowing clients to provide their intake information online, and then syncing this seamlessly to your client intake and/or case management software. This will ultimately save your client's time and reduce any manual errors.

Empowering public-entry formats and helping customers round up applications directly in a legal automation platform improves the client’s visibility and better document management in your organization. Paper structures are not required.

Document automation

Beyond being able to streamline the process of writing up complex legal documents, document automation also enables firms to reduce their reliance on billable hours. You can pass on these savings to your clients, all while boosting firm profitability. Rather than taking days, documents can be drafted up in a matter of minutes with fewer errors, costs and inefficiencies that plague the traditional drafting process. 

Another key benefit of legal paperwork automation is being able to share and retain knowledge across your firm. When a lawyer leaves to join another firm, their expertise can, in part, stay with the firm in the form of these automated document templates, thereby helping to bridge the knowledge gaps that can occur after their exit. 

The best way to take advantage of a legal automation tool is to provide the lawyers complete customizable workflows with an ability to edit the documents on the Word. Tools like alf give you full freedom and transparency over your documents.

Client communication

An AI-based chatbot is a type of legal automation innovation. They are used to responding to clients' requests and are modified for basic content and give valid suggestions. For businesses, the ability to automate simple interactions translates into a lot of savings.

With legal automation tools like alf, you can also send automated client emails to keep in contact with clients and maintain an ongoing relationship. It’s also possible to use tools that provide automatic updates to clients on their case status, thereby reducing the volume of inquiries coming into the law firm, as well as giving your clients a better experience.

Law firm collection automation

The most obvious benefit to billing automation is that with electronic payments, bills get paid faster. This makes collections easier and saves time on follow-ups when bills are past their due dates. 

However, there are a number of other benefits that go beyond actually getting paid. Modern billing technology creates an audit trail for accountability. A client may dispute a charge several weeks or months later. In this case, Law firms are at a disadvantage if they use manual or paper-based billing systems. With collection automation tools, you have the capacity to audit and trace changes as a pre-bill transition into an invoice. Tools like Clio and alf can really help you out here.

Client reviews

So, how do you get more reviews? You can start by reaching out to your most satisfied clients after their matter has concluded. If they had a good experience with your law firm, chances are they will respond positively if you send a request for feedback. And the easiest way to do this is to add an automated step to the overall legal management workflow.

Asking for a client review is not top of mind for most attorneys and law firms. But client reviews hold immense power in being able to drive new business and law firm credibility. It’s an essential step. 

Use software that automates that step, and you’ll never forget it. You’ll have templated emails already in place. These can be programmed to be sent out automatically to the client after a case closes. You can also able to go beyond email and get customer reviews on sites that matter the most.

How to automate your law firm

So now you know the benefits of legal automation but automating your law firm might come across as an easier-said-than-done kind of scenario, but with the right steps in place, the transition can be much easier than you think. Here are seven steps to consider when adding new automation technologies into your day-to-day processes.

  1. Choose what to automate

The key is to start with one thing at a time. And in particular, start with one thing that you don’t like. Now, think of all the tasks that if you didn’t have to do them, you’d be a lot happier.

  1. Evaluate the value of each task

You’ve created a list of all the things you don’t like doing. The next step is to decide which ones are good candidates for automation. Does it take a lot of time to do? Is it repetitive or tedious? Or, is it a necessary task but non-billable? Perhaps most importantly, is it time-sensitive? 

  1. Create a plan

If you determine that there are numerous tasks that your law firm could benefit from automating, create a plan of action so that you’re able to tackle changes one by one. You’ll also need to prioritize implementation as part of your day-to-day without jeopardizing the attorney and client experience. 

  1. Research automation tools

Once you’ve prioritized which processes to automate, conduct research to find the best solution that fits your needs, based on your implementation timeline and budget. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, if-this-then-that tools like Zapier can help you automate actions between specific tools.

  1. Develop a change management plan

Technological change can be uncomfortable and intimidating for your staff, so make sure they are aware of the plan and have proper training in place for the easiest transition. It’s always better to communicate change early.

  1. Review and iterate

Although part of the advantages of implementing automation is that you can “set-it-and-forget-it”, there will always be an advantage to regularly re-evaluating your processes over time. There is plenty of opportunity for customizations using automation tools, and each vendor will offer its own unique features, so never be complacent with your technology. Also, regularly asking for feedback from staff and clients will help you uncover valuable opportunities for improvement—and further savings on overhead. Ref (Clio)

Conclusion

Law office automation technology provides limitless opportunities when it comes to helping you save time on key law firm processes. This includes client intake, documentation, client communications, payment collections, client reviews, and more. By optimizing these areas, you’ll be able to spend less time doing non-billable tasks. And, you’ll spend more time creating revenue for your law firm. 

Make a solid plan in place and take a step-by-step approach to integrating new automation technologies. Then, you’ll be set up for success.

Save time and increase efficiency
Save time and increase efficiency
Save time and increase efficiency
Save time and increase efficiency