All lawyers have the same 24 hours in a day, but as the personal injury field becomes more competitive, the need to reduce time spent on necessary but non-revenue-generating tasks becomes more urgent. Automation technology can help you have more time to focus on clients by assisting with the administrative tasks that lay the foundation for a successful personal injury firm.
There are several reasons to automate some legal tasks. It can reduce the time burden of client intake by offering self-service by combining your client portal with your email system and document library. Clients can complete required documents on their time, not yours. When a client has easier access to documents, they’re more likely to give the information you need on time. Workflows can also ensure the document is completed as robustly and accurately as possible, reducing human error. Additionally, notes Brooke Moore of MyVirtualLawyer, automation enables pricing predictions by more accurately recording just how long the needed components of the legal process take.
There are economic benefits to automation as well. The process of preparing to automate enables your firm to see any gaps or updates needed, notes Dina Eisenberg of OutsourceEasier.com. Automation can enable smaller firms to more easily offer access to verified legal documents for a fixed fee while reducing overhead and staff costs, enabling them to stay competitive with larger practices.
What to automate
Document assembly and template management: The average lawyer spends 48% of their working hours on administrative tasks. Refocus your time by building a template library stored in the cloud and accessible by anyone, at any time. Set up workflows that present clients with the next logical form to complete.
Data management: Streamline court data through an automated application interface (API) that connects with a data management software platform. For example, use a digital document management system that automatically downloads court data and documents relating to a specific case while also filing them digitally and reminding you of deadlines for replies. Systems like this can produce automatic alerts about new documentation filed or case updates, keeping your firm on top of new information and upcoming deadlines.
Calendars and billing: Sync dates and deadlines in your documents with court dates downloaded from jurisdictional websites. Keep track of invoices and send reminders about payments due automatically, on a fixed schedule (30 days out, 30 days past due, etc.). Know which bills are outstanding and which have been paid, at a glance. Only 16% of lawyers allow clients to pay their invoices online. Make payments easier for your clients while spending less time chasing after clients with outstanding balances by offering online billing. You’ll close out clients and get paid faster.
Your own processes: Most data management platforms offer the ability to customize workflows and highlight information that’s important to your individual firm. Take advantage of this feature to set up automated processes that focus on improving the efficiency of tasks central to your practice.
Types of Automation Technology
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of automating legal administrative tasks, here are a few categories of automation software systems to consider:
Law practice management systems: This all-in-one software takes care of the essential administrative legal functions, including appointment scheduling, calendaring, case management, conflict resolution, and client messaging. Many law practice management systems offer document management as well, making these platforms a welcome helping hand for smaller firms.
Though law practice management systems come with a higher price tag, the long-term benefits of integrating multiple administrative tasks into automated workflows is worth the investment. Check out peer-reviewed law practice management systems on Capterra.com.
Document assembly software: Document assembly software is a good fit for firms already using law practice management software but wanting more robust features for document organization. It’s also useful for firms that need help managing document volume but aren’t ready for full-fledged practice management software. This type of software offers templates, access to court forms, and automatic organization.
Legal billing software: This type of software helps firms track time spent on cases, bill clients appropriately, as well as track court fees and miscellaneous business expenses. While it will not replace the full services of an accounting or tax firm, legal billing software will take on the bulk of billing your time accurately.
Before locking into a contract with any automation technology or software, research which systems will fit your needs, your budget, and your business aspirations. You’ll want to be sure a software system can keep up with your business plan and that your hardware will be compatible for the duration. It is well worth the time spent viewing demos and asking in-depth questions about use cases before signing on. Some software comes with data retrieval or records limits; ask your sales rep to recommend a usage tier that will help your firm grow while keeping costs reasonable.
Automation of personal injury workflows can increase firm efficiency and client intake while reducing overhead costs and human error. The time invested in setting up custom workflows can grow your personal injury practice into the robust, competitive firm you’ve worked for it to become.
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