If automation for law firms brings to mind images of robots and machines replacing humans in your firm, you can rest easy. The reality is that automation is simply technology that simplifies the recurring manual tasks or processes that people must do, enabling them to be more productive and efficient.
Think tools. Think about the uncalculated cost of inefficiency wherever you see it in your law firm…time tracking on envelopes or corners of notebook pages, or gathering paper logs and inputting time into a spreadsheet. Files that are available only when a person is available to pull them. Reporting that requires manual manipulation to aggregate data from multiple sources.
We still need people to know the law, do the thinking and work with clients. And automation for law firms frees people to do just that, instead of pulling their hair out in frustration or spending nights and weekends on complex manual business tasks.
5 Key Benefits of Automation for Law Firms
Estuate, an expert in business solutions and services, shares five key benefits of automating your business processes, especially in the areas of administration, sales, analytics, customer support, marketing, and social media engagement. (Source):
Cost Effectiveness: “Automating redundant activities reduces the need for extensive labor, minimizes paperwork expenses, overhauling and maintenance costs.”
Time Saving: “Automation leads to faster processing of voluminous tasks and reduced turnaround timelines.”
Enhanced Workflow Efficiencies: “Automating business processes allows enterprises to achieve more results with fewer efforts.”
Accuracy and Consistency in Operations: “Automation eliminates the chances of errors, leading to enhanced accuracy. It also follows a standard operating procedure, ensuring consistency in performing tasks.”
Reduced Employee Turnover: “Automation eliminates recurring, mundane and monotonous tasks and allows people to take up more challenging and rewarding activities, leading to employee satisfaction. Satisfied employees tend to perform better and stay with organizations for longer times.”
Now that you know the benefits, where should you start?
5 Key Tasks You Should be Automating
The list of digital solutions that can help you automate tasks in your law firm seems to grow longer every day. For our list, we chose the tasks most tied to frustration, revenue and client experience.
1.Fee allocation and partner compensation
Fee allocation is our top recommended task to automate for two reasons: First, the monthly chore of calculating compensation for attorneys and partners is consistently one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks for law firm operators.
Second, there’s an easy solution available. (See #4 below). Payroll could easily become one of the simplest things you do each month! Imagine it taking only minutes to assign payroll amounts. Imagine being able to apply any percentage to any attorney or matter. Imagine having your weekends back!
One of an attorney’s biggest time wasters is sitting down at the end of the month to record all their time. Rather than spending minutes per day digitally tracking accurately as they go, they now have to spend a huge block of time pulling details together from days and weeks ago. Ultimately, this results in missed time and underreported billable hours. So it’s a double hit on productivity and profitability.
In our blogpost Pinpointing Your Law Firm’s 3 Biggest Time Wasters (and How to Solve Them), we introduced automated (even voice-activated) time-tracking tools that attorneys can quickly toggle on and off as need, which then tally up time per matter or client. There are features that automate calls with time logs, or run in the background on a computer to track time.
This automation directly corresponds to billable hours, so it can pay for itself in no time (pun intended!)
There are several reasons law firms should automate bill management. If you’re automating time tracking, it’s just a simple step away to automate invoicing for different attorneys from your time data.
Automated invoicing saves the finance team tons of time the first — and subsequent times — around because it provides notification of unpaid bills and even generates gentle second and third reminders.
After all that work (when done manually), industry-wide collection rates sit at only 89%. Yet data shows that 57% of electronic invoices get paid the same day they’re billed and 85% get paid within a week. (Source) According to Clio’s Trends for Solo Law Firms Report, “Prior to the pandemic, electronic payments didn’t help bring in new matters, but did raise revenue (compared to those who didn’t use electronic payments.) But during the pandemic, electronic payments raised both casework and revenue.”
Data reporting is a critical aspect of determining your law firm’s profitability. Getting data is one thing. But easily pulling it together into actionable insights? That’s difficult. You may have data from multiple sources and even your LMS has limits on the types of reports it can do. If only you could add custom fields. If only you could get custom reports. Guess what? You can!
LawKPIs was built to integrate all your data from disparate sources together into convenient, easy-to-access dashboards. You can get custom reports (even fee allocation!) built at no extra cost. Reports can be scheduled and emailed directly to you. This is possible for all the usual KPIs — and the specific ones your unique firm needs.
5.Client document management
Today’s consumers want to manage their accounts online as much as possible. That includes their legal matters. Client portals enable them to access, sign and store their documents. The technology that enables this provides security, notifications to keep both sides updated on actions taken and questions asked and answered, along with the convenience of 24/7, anytime, anywhere access to documents.
Client portals prevent unnecessary trips to your law firm, taking off work to sign some papers, or even having to pay a babysitter in order to do all that. The convenience is worth a lot to clients, which makes it valuable to your bottomline.
Transform your business strategy with automation
Incorporating automation for law firms into your operations is a winning strategy for improving profitability, improving client loyalty, and giving you back your time.
With an LMS like Clio and LawKPIs (specifically designed to integrate with Clio and many other LMSs), you can cover all these top tasks…and many more.