In order to cooperate in the fight against COVID-19, many law firms are operating with a large portion of their staff and professionals working remotely full-time with only a small team working on-site. This is enabling them to take care of their employees’ health concerns and at the same time seamlessly support their clients. Together, while keeping social distance, law practices will overcome this new challenge. Read below to find out how technology is transforming law firms during the COVID-19 crisis.
Health and Safety
Health and safety concerns are requiring social distancing and many other precautions due to the coronavirus outbreak, and lawyers and law firms are turning to technology for efficient and ethical practice solutions that can serve to promote public health. While the primary concern on most people’s minds during this time is health and safety, legal professionals are in a position where clients are depending on them to continue carrying out critical services. The public’s need for legal services will most likely not be diminished as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, in fact, it may grow in relation to the changing and challenging needs of businesses, health care providers, employers, and other individuals seeking to navigate the new normal we are learning to live in.
At the same time, law firms have to do their part not only to comply with current government instructions around public health and social distancing but also to continue to follow professional ethics requirements that are unique to the legal industry as they endeavor to remain available to new and existing clients. While following these rules in a crisis seems overwhelming, the common solution to many to these challenges involves the juncture of law and legal technology, which can improve efficiency, while increasing access to legal services, all while serving to promote public health and safety.
How should an attorney continue to connect with both prospective and existing clients considering current CDC guidelines and other government mandates related to social distancing and the slowing spread of the virus? This can be of concern considering an attorney’s professional responsibilities to provide competent and diligent representation and communication to their clients. Law Ruler, a leading legal intake and legal case management platform for growing firms, is 100% operational and hopes for everyone to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, as a safety measure, the Law Ruler staff is working virtually and is committed to delivering world-class support to law firms at a time when the need to fully embrace the efficiencies of remote technologies is underscored.
How Technology is Transforming Law Firms During the COVID-19 Crisis
For those in the legal industry who are adjusting to the concept of remote lawyering and increased reliance on technology during uncertain times, here are a few tips we would like to share from our own work-from-home journey to assure your days are meaningful and productive, no matter where you are.
Maintain the same schedule and daily breaks
Get up, fix breakfast, and begin your day at the same time you normally would. Alternatively, if you start your mornings by making a to-do list or answering emails, make that list and answer those emails. A structured day helps you stay productive. At home, away from everyone in the office, you no longer have the same cues for when to take breaks or to eat lunch. This makes it even more important to schedule breaks into your daily calendar. Whether you stop for lunch or grab a quick home work-out, by scheduling interruptions you will maintain the structure of your day and clear your mind.
Make sure you have the tools you need to work.
When working from home you will discover the importance of making sure that you are well stocked on ink cartridges, paper, pens, note pads, and similar tools. It is extremely disruptive to your workday to discover in the middle of a project that you are missing one of the tools you need to complete the project. Do not waste any part of your day running to the office supply store (while maintaining social distancing). Make it a habit of ordering a new backup immediately after using the last of whatever you have run short on.
Continue to dress for work.
Even if only for psychological reasons it is important to dress appropriately for your workday. It will place you in the mindset that you are a professional and you are ready to work. This may not necessarily be an issue for everyone who works from home, but it couldn’t hurt to experiment with your wardrobe to see how it can affect your productivity.
Establish a routine.
One of the best benefits of working from home is the flexibility it affords you. You can prioritize the competing demands in your life and work by focusing on them in an order that makes the best sense for you. Nonetheless, while it is important to be flexible, it is also important to create a basic routine such as organizing and limiting the times in which you perform certain activities that include reading and responding to emails, engaging in social media, doing client-specific work, taking breaks, and so on.
The biggest problem with working from home is that friends and family may have the mistaken perception that you aren’t working all day, or, that because your schedule is flexible it’s OK to distract you with other things. As a result, it becomes extremely important to set boundaries in which you make it clear to them that you are busy, you are working, and that during work hours you must not be distracted.
Working Remotely – Efficiently
The key to working remotely as a lawyer is having all the necessary tools that will improve your client’s experiences while making your workflow seamless. Deciding which are the best tools for your law practice may be difficult, but by reviewing the latest technology platforms available, you will be able to select the most impactful ones. Use the right tools to enhance an alliance that will keep everyone in the loop.
By investing in law practice management software like video conferencing tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, it will help to establish eye to eye contact and a rapport that will make all the difference when it comes to staying connected to existing and future legal clients. Enabling complete access from anywhere using a Mac, PC, or any mobile device using Google Chrome is a must. The Law Ruler mobile edition, for example, is compatible with iPads, iPhones, Android, and a lot more.
Additionally, you should think about how having a paperless practice will increase mobility and flexibility. With good legal software like that from Law Ruler, you can turn almost any document into a reusable document template. Using Law Ruler document templates and automation is easy. First, you take any document from Microsoft Word and locate the mail merge codes for each field that you want to add to the document and paste the Law Ruler merge codes into your document. By using a web-based client’s portal in the legal practice management software your clients will have 24/7 access and updates about their case enabling easy communication and collaboration and in an encrypted and secure online environment
Using technology to handle billing and to track time ensures you get paid faster and keeps track of your progress. when you are ready to invoice a case or create a closing statement, Law Ruler software automatically pulls the relevant time entries and expenses and makes it easy to decide what happens next.
The key features include:
- Time Entry and Expense tracking for all practice types
- Invoice and Closing Statement customization
- UTBMS and LEDES billing codes
- Contingency, Time/Hourly, Flat-Fee, and Pro Bono billing
- Invoice and Receive Payments Online
- Easy Time Tracking
- Expense and Cost Management
- Automated Payment Reminders
It is a changing time that we’re living in as we all do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But there are lessons to be learned to improve our lives not only during this crisis but also well beyond. The circumstances that we are now being forced to live under are making everyone reconsider and re-examine the ways they have worked, lived, and socialized in so-called “normal” times. Working remotely with the proper tools is one way to move on productively and safely.
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