Where to Start When Upgrading Your Law Firm's IT Infrastructure

The legal industry is increasingly turning to technology to drive higher efficiency and improve client relationships.Gone are the days of using traditional methods like dictation devices, a fax machine, or even carbonless forms for legal work. Law firms have been increasing their productivity and profitability by resorting to advanced technology.

This blog post helps lawyers, law firms, and legal departments prioritize upgrades to their technical infrastructure.

Tools like MS Word, Adobe Acrobat, and Google Suite are examples of technology that have been used in the legal department since their inception. This software has introduced a consistent way to file motions, send client letters, document specifics of a case, and, to a certain extent, contribute to securely storing client data.

In-house documentation software, cloud-based technology for data storage, basic time tracking, and billing technology solutions have been used to help law firms keep up with the ever-evolving tech scene.

However, "legacy" systems, software, and technologies are no longer considered to be enough when it comes to client data security, gathering and analysis of case-related information, and eliminating human errors while performing legal documentation tasks.

Law firms and legal departments generally look into upgrading their tech infrastructure because of the following reasons:

  • Technology can eliminate repetitive tasks and help them focus on productive tasks instead.
  • Technology can help them maintain a higher level of transparency with their clients while managing contracts and billing.
  • Well-deployed tech can be leveraged to more quickly gather and process information, such as relevant information about litigations, government investigations, or Freedom of Information Act requests. Automating the process of information gathering can also reduce human errors.
  • Access to analytics and relevant information can help simplify case management procedures.
  • Clients expect streamlined communication during the entire legal process.
  • Billing and invoicing take up a considerable amount of time and can be automated for efficient time management

We have put together a questionnaire that will help you conclude whether or not your law firm needs a tech/IT upgrade.

#1. Is your legacy technology slowing you down?

Take stock of the technology used within the firm. Systems that only have the bare minimum specifications to carry out basic tasks may seem perfectly acceptable. However, time is money in a law firm and because of this, you’ll want to make sure that the systems you run on have sufficient processing power. Up-to-date software versions will also contribute to completing legal documentation quickly and efficiently.

Answer questions like: Can you automate repetitive tasks to free yourself up for higher-value efforts? Where does your law firm invest most of its time, and can this be sped up with technology?

#2. Are clients demanding modern tools for engagement and billing?

When you don’t have the right tools and processes in place to handle the financial and accounting portion of your firm, it places your business at a severe disadvantage. Apart from increased error rates and missed billing opportunities, you could also be frustrating your clients and spending an inordinate amount of time redoing accounting tasks. If your firm has experienced these scenarios more than once, it's time for an upgrade.

#3. Are your operations like billing and invoicing taking too long or costing too much?

For busy lawyers, timekeeping methods are critical, but they shouldn’t take a huge effort to accomplish. Smart software solutions can easily resolve your firm’s billing and invoicing needs by accurately recording time spent with clients and on work. This avoids losing money by accidentally under-billing the clients or even losing clients by over-billing them.

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#4. Do you anticipate a new type of client or an influx of clients that you aren't prepared to serve?

Younger consumers expect that they receive top-notch customer service backed by technology. Is your firm prepared to serve this generation of tech-savvy individuals, as well as any other niche clients who may have similarly high expectations?

Your team requires an infrastructure that properly integrates with other systems at your organization. Technology can help bridge the gap between cross-functional teams to keep them on the same page and enable easy collaboration, rather than introducing bottlenecks that often come up when one team is dependent on the other for output.

As per one report, 60 percent of general counsel surveyed believe that technology will help improve the accuracy of legal work in the next three to five years. Here are some of the highest-impact tech upgrades that will benefit legal teams globally:

Automated Billing Tools

The Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard Oversight Committee has created a standardized legal billing system that categorizes legal tasks and translates them into invoices. The codes generated by this committee – “LEDES” codes – are required by lawyers and legal staff to search and choose the correct code for each billable entry. This manual process is time-consuming, inefficient, and prone to human error. Your firm will have to spend even more, non-billable time correcting mistakes and remaking and resubmitting invoices.

Technologically backed billing software can simplify the implementation of these codes by automatically assigning the relevant code to every billable entry.

Example: TimeSolv. This application allows you to make time and expense entries even when your device is offline. You can upload expense receipts right from your phone and securely store this data. The application uses a highly encrypted 256-bit SSL for data transmission between your browser and the data center.

Client Management Tools

Client Management tools can create a seamless experience for your customers and your team of lawyers. A good client management tool comes with a suite of features like storing contact information of your law firm’s clients, automating marketing tasks, using AI for customer personalization, analyzing marketing data, and much more.

Example: OnePlace is a CRM system that has features like recording client meetings, building proposals, enterprise-level security and integration with MS Outlook, time and billing systems, and many email marketing tools. It allows users to view all customer-related information in one place.

Automated document management

Artificial intelligence can be used to perform end-to-end document management in a legal firm. Tools powered with natural language processing and machine learning can be used to extract relevant textual data from legal contracts and other documents.

Example: LogicalDoc is document scanning software that allows legal professionals to write cases in word processing software and store the files with specifically labeled meta-data. It also has a feature to automatically number, version, and archive files. The software also comes coupled with an add-ons like optical character recognition, digital signature, encryption, and the ability to integrate this tool with other applications.

Improved security and confidentiality tools

A law firm is constantly dealing with sensitive documents while working with clients. To ensure that the data is securely stored or transmitted, it is important to choose software options that offer the best security alternatives. Pay attention to and educate your legal team about the importance of encryption, SSL, and other security features.

Mobile security should also be taken into consideration with any apps that the team uses. Similarly, file backup plans should be in place and secure tools should be used to encrypt files and store them safely either on the cloud or on local machines.

Firewalls, spam filters, and antivirus tools can monitor your network activity and alert your IT team to impostors and malicious devices.

Example: VeraCrypt is an open-sourced tool that’s simple to use for file encryption. Another popular tool AESCrypt can is also an example of a good file encryption tool.

If you answer "yes" to most of the following questions, then congratulations, you are on the right path to using technology to grow your law firm!

  • Does the feature/ integration address a major problem that you face?
  • Does the value provided offset the cost of implementation?
  • Is your team/product capable of utilizing it?
  • Is it the best solution of its kind?
  • Is your time being used more efficiently and productively?
  • Can you now serve a wider range of audiences as a result of adopting this technology?
  • Will this feature or integration increase revenue directly or indirectly?
  • Will your customers be excited about this new feature or integration?

Conclusion

The legal tech market is evolving gradually. Law firms and associated people in the industry are embracing the idea of introducing technology in the legal sector.

Crowdbotics managed app development is a fast and easy way to add new features or build entire custom legal apps from scratch. Our PMs and developers are experts in modern app development for complex industries dealing with sensitive data. If you're considering a custom app build to improve operations at your law firm, get in touch with our experts for a detailed estimate today.

Originally published:

December 31, 2020