Over the past few weeks and months, I've posted information and articles about mobile and cloud computing. But, those articles haven't answered all of the questions. Mobile and cloud computing have dramatically affected the business world, altering the ways that we communicate and share information. The legal industry has certainly not been immune from this rapid change. The provision of legal services has necessarily been shaped by the shifting expectations of legal clients, requiring law firms to change with the times in order to compete.
But what should a law firm do to meet the needs of 21st century legal clients? Where should a firm’s efforts be focused? Which steps will be most impactful, while still being cost-effective?
These aren’t always easy questions to answer. Fortunately, Nora Riva Berman and Patrick Palace covered many of these issues and more at this year’s ABA Techshow in March during one of my favorite presentations. During their talk, “Resetting Your Law Firm For a Changing Economy and Marketplace,” they discussed steps that lawyers can take to strategically compete in today’s competitive legal landscape.
Below you’ll find the visual notes from that session along with 3 favorite tips and links that provide further information (click to view larger image):
Think like an entrepreneur
The presenters stressed the importance of thinking like an entrepreneur. They explained that solo and small firm lawyers may not realize it, but that they are, in fact, entrepreneurs. And, just like entrepreneurs, 21st century lawyers need to make sure that their law firms are lean, efficient, and effective businesses. The best way to do this is to increase productivity and reduce redundancies and ineffective processes.
According to the presenters, eliminating waste is the first step toward greater efficiency. To eliminate waste, use the DOWNTIME formula and take steps to avoid:
- Defects and mistakes
- Non-utilized talent
- Transportation/excess motion
- Inventory/piles of files
- Extra procession (doing more than valued)
For more tips on running a law firm like a 21st century lawyer/entrepreneur, make sure to watch a recording of this webinar, “Building a 21st Century Law Practice.”
Increase efficiency by streamlining your law firm’s processes
So now that you know that efficiency is key, how do you go about increasing your law firm’s productivity? According to the presenters, there are a number of key steps you can take. For starters, streamline your law firm’s paper intake process by moving toward a paperless law practice. By digitizing your firm’s documents, you’re taking the first step toward creating a mobile, responsive 21st century law firm.
Another way to increase efficiency is to implement project management systems. Project management tools help to streamline your law firm’s workflow and increase productivity. One way to implement project management principles into your firm is to ensure that at the beginning of each new case, the same procedures are followed from start to finish. According to the speakers, there should be procedures in place for each new case that relate to: 1) initiation, 2) planning, 3) execution, 4) control, and 5) closure.
To learn more about increasing productivity by streamlining your law firm’s processes, watch the recording of this webinar, “Running an Efficient Law Firm.”
Save Time and Money with Cloud Computing and Client Portals
One final time-saving recommendation offered by the presenters is to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing and client portals. The presenters explained that one of the easiest ways to increase efficiency is by using cloud computing tools, such as law practice management software. When your law practice’s data is stored in the cloud in law practice management software, you have 24/7 access to all of your law firm’s data, anytime, anywhere. And the built-in productivity tools, including tasks and to-dos, workflows, time-tracking tools, and billing and invoicing, make it easy for you to stay on top of your busy law practice and get things done quickly and efficiently.
What’s more, as the presenters explained, cloud computing provides benefits not only to you, but your clients as well. By taking advantage of the client communications features often found in law practice management software, you’re able to provide a higher level of client service. When you use client portals in your firm, all client communication is streamlined and occurs in an encrypted, secure online environment.
To learn more about how client portals can improve your law firm’s communications and create satisfied legal clients, check out this infographic, “The Benefits of Client Portals.”