Modern technology can either be the greatest solution for a law firm to simplify its processes, or the bane of its existence. Finding what technology works for you and your practice means understanding what parts of your day-to-day can be automated and what systems you adapt to easily. What tasks are too cumbersome to handle manually? What forms of modern technology do you seem to get the hang of? What do your clients find easy to use?
While you may think of your own specific technologies or apps to apply to your business, I’ve compiled a list to help get you started:
Video Chat Apps
Today we have the ability to associate a face with people we do business with. It’s a win-win for everyone. You can “meet” your clients without having to organize rides, office space, or expensive meals. Dozens of apps exist for this service, so narrowing down the choices is up to you. If you’re more Facebook inclined, the website provides its own video chat feature, making it easy to connect with existing Facebook friends. Speaking from personal experience, Zoom is a great desktop app that allows any number of people to chat in the same digital room.
Group Messaging Apps
Similarly to video chat apps, an active group messaging platform can help coordinate meetings, agendas and the finer details of any project. Perhaps the most popular collaboration app is Slack, which was founded in 2013 and steadily watched itself grow into one of the largest messaging apps in the business world. Skype is also a convenient app that incorporates direct messages and video chats seamlessly.
Time Tracking Apps
One of the most difficult aspects of practicing law is keeping track of your internal tasks, clients needs and personal chores. To keep this all in one place, I recommend Evernote, a desktop app that organizes all your to-do lists, notes and anything else worth writing down. All of this information is then synced into your devices, so whether you’re stuck in traffic, checking your daily schedule, or in the office planning the next week, you will be covered. You can even take a picture of handwritten notes, store them and then search for keywords in reference to that note.
Attorneys are bombarded by emails constantly. From client issues, internal communication and outside business propositions, we can never seem to get a minute to ourselves. I recommend looking into a email organization app or software. These products can make handling all those emails manageable. Apps like Organizer automatically sort your emails into folders by category of your choice. Now your work emails won’t co-mingle with your personal ones. Boomerang can schedule your emails to be sent at a certain time so your email, when sent at 7:00 PM on a Friday won’t actually look like it’s 7:00 PM Friday. Rather, it will look like 9:00 AM Monday or whatever time you would like your recipients to see the message. Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning a platform that reminds you to follow up with clients. Conveniently named FollowUpThen, you could potentially set reminders for any length of time, helping you to remember the smallest details.
Practice Management Software
Finally, the last bit of technology advice I have to share with you is this: invest in some sort of practice management software. These tools, used by thousands of lawyers, help centralize the many fine details, tasks and processes attorneys face daily. The American Bar Association published a chart this year detailing the different attributes of the most popular software on the market. Most programs run similarly, delivering case document management, email management, task management and allocation, and many more. These programs run at different costs, aimed at different sized firms with varying budgets. Do the appropriate research ahead of time, so when it comes to pulling the trigger, you'll be ready and informed.
There you have it: an introduction to the quickly evolving technology landscape as it applies to law firms. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it should provide you with a better idea of what technology could help your practice. But remember, your own research will be the true deciding factor when it comes to decision time.
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