The practice of law is based on tradition, with attorneys often utilizing processes that have been around for multiple generations. But as technology has increasingly permeated the profession, attorneys have begun recognizing the value of innovations that streamline processes and enhance productivity.
Redundancy is a common problem within a law firm setting. Firm members can waste billable hours repeating standard tasks for various leads, clients, and matters. From intake to the final payment of a legal invoice, firms struggle to balance the administrative duties of running an office with the professional duties of providing quality legal services. But automation is a viable solution to this problem, allowing law firms to work more efficiently and profitably. This post will explore the benefits of legal automation and why it really does make a difference for law firms.
Law firm leaders often live by the creed of not reinventing the wheel. It’s a lesson taught in law school, and many attorneys hold onto it well into their professional careers. But what if the old wheel simply is not working as well as it used to work? The legal industry has changed tremendously with the injection of technology, and firms of all sizes need to reinvent the wheel if they want to remain competitive and profitable.
Automation involves the use of technology to perform tasks and processes with minimal human intervention. In other words, it involves the programming of technology to effectively handle the profession’s most tedious and time-consuming tasks. Automation leads to improved productivity in two ways:
- First, technology typically handles these tasks in much less time, completing them more efficiently. Studies suggest that automation can significantly expedite tasks when compared to manual completion. For instance, with a Client Relationship Management system (CRM) in place, firms can automate the documents that they use during the client intake process. Instead of finding, opening, editing, and sending forms for each new intake, firm staff can quickly create and send the documents with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Second, turning these duties over to computers frees law members to focus on the billable tasks that bring more revenue into the firm. Financially, it makes no sense for lawyers that bill at a $300 hourly rate to spend their time on non-billable administrative duties. The more productive a legal practice becomes, the more revenue it produces. Automation helps make that happen.
Everyone makes mistakes, but within a law firm environment, one mistake can have detrimental consequences. Legal professionals must consistently prioritize the best interests of their clients, which includes doing everything possible to avoid costly errors. But firm members are humans, and even the very best efforts can fail sometimes, particularly in situations where individuals are working on multiple versions of the same task. This redundancy can create an environment that is ripe for avoidable mistakes.
Errors can undermine a client’s confidence in a law firm. They can also result in bar complaints and serious consequences. When set up correctly, automation significantly reduces the risk of human error. Computers do not get tired of performing repetitive tasks. They also don’t get distracted by the numerous other things happening within the typical law firm at any given time. Automation can make a significant difference in a firm’s efforts to prevent these problems.
Established Firm Procedures
Once firms implement automation, they can make it a standardized aspect of their practice. That means that the relevant tasks are handled in the same way each and every time, becoming established firm procedures. When firm members handle common tasks individually, it often creates a situation where one person is using their own process while someone else is using a completely different process, which undermines consistency.
Small and solo firms face an even bigger risk, particularly if one person is charged with handling particular tasks. What happens if that person separates from the firm without sharing their processes with other members? Standardized processes make firm transitions easier to handle because new hires can quickly pick up the firm’s automation practices. A variety of law firm procedures can be automated and platforms like CRM can make that happen.
Automation Helps Law Firms Provide Top-Notch Legal Services
Law firms cannot successfully operate without effectively handling necessary tasks in a productive and efficient manner. By streamlining redundant duties, firm attorneys can focus their attention on practicing law and providing clients with quality service.
With the automation of client intake, firms can better leverage their marketing efforts, nurture their leads, and quickly convert them to paying clients. With document automation, firms can efficiently create, manage, and edit documents to move matters and administrative tasks along in a streamlined manner. Even legal billing can benefit from automation, resulting in accurate invoices and quicker client payments. For all of these reasons, legal automation clearly makes a difference when molding a more efficient and profitable law practice.