The global pandemic triggered a year of change and challenges for the legal profession, many lawyers are now operating in a virtual reality whether that’s working remotely part of the time, or having embraced a fully virtual law firm.
Many firms have rapidly adopted more technology throughout the past year, as have consumers. Consumers have reported overwhelmingly that technology is more important to them now than before the coronavirus pandemic. The shift towards remote work is unlikely to disappear once the pandemic is over, so it is more important than ever for firms to embrace technology and tools that support remote work for lawyers.
The most successful law firms today use technology to work more efficiently and securely in an increasingly remote workplace. Since what works best for your firm depends on factors like your firm’s size and practice area, not every firm needs the same tech. Start with the basics then add in tech tools to fill the gaps to enhance productivity and better serve your clients.
Online file storage
Whether you are working remotely or just want convenient, streamlined access to documents to work and collaborate from anywhere, online file storage tools for lawyers are key. Cloud based technology to store your firm’s data is widely available. Look for online file storage tools that are cloud-based, secure, and easy-to-use like ‘Dropbox’, one of the world’s most popular document storage apps.
Solicitors constantly draft documents and letters, so a word processor is a necessity. It is recommended to use a cloud-based word processor to take your document and letter drafting up a notch by having the ability to work and access your legal documents remotely. Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, is the most popular cloud-based business tool for lawyers offering word processing as well as numerous other productivity tools.
VOIP phone provider
No matter where you are working, you need to be reachable at your business phone number. A Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone service lets you answer phone calls remotely by forwarding calls made to your business line to wherever you are.
Virtual receptionist service
Missing a call, whether because your law firm office is working remotely or you are just away from the phone, means lost business. A virtual receptionist service which offers live virtual reception and chat options eliminates unanswered calls which means better service for clients and also cuts the cost of having a full-time in-house staff member fielding calls.
Paperwork is an inextricable part of practicing law, but dealing with documents doesn’t have to be as tedious or time-consuming as it has been in the past. Document automation tools for lawyers streamline document creation by using information already collected, like key dates or contact information, to populate forms for you. Document management tools then help you safely store and access those documents.
Legal practice management software offers simple, all-in-one solutions for dealing with legal documents, allowing you to compile documents with easy-to-use templates and keeping documents secure in the cloud so you can edit, store, and organize files as needed.
Electronic signatures are more convenient to coordinate, and less back-and-forth means less room for human error. They also make legal work faster and more efficient for lawyers and clients, and save paper, a key consideration as more firms are going paperless. While e-signatures are not applicable in every situation, e-signatures are legally binding in many cases as long as they meet the proper criteria.
Tech can help make e-signatures easier and safer. Many e-signature tools empower clients to sign legal documents remotely which means a more convenient and user-friendly experience.
Video conferencing software
Communication and collaboration are central to a law firm’s success, but face to face communication is not always possible, or preferable, particularly in the current climate. Many consumers now prefer to meet virtually with a lawyer for a consultation or first meeting, and would rather follow-up meetings be via video conference.
The best video tools for lawyers should be secure, easy to use, and clear in both audio and video quality. Choose an option with end-to-end encryption and simple online meeting solutions.
Practice management software
Legal practice management software is an important tool for law firms, especially smaller firms. While many law firms may have taken on cloud-based software as a result of the pandemic, it is likely this take up will continue post pandemic.
Running a practice is complex, practice management software can make managing a firm easier. Cloud-based practice management software centralizes and streamlines the running of your firm, organizing cases and collaborating with clients.
Make it easy and more convenient for clients to pay and get paid faster by using tech to accept credit card payments through an online platform.
During the pandemic’s social distancing recommendations, online payments helped firms maintain business continuity. Firms that accepted online payments saw more growth in 2020 than those that did not.
Client portals allow lawyers to securely share information like documents, bills, and calendar details with clients. Making this information accessible to clients helps them stay in the loop on their case with less manual updating from lawyers. Client portals are especially important tools for lawyers during remote work. Firms using client portals mitigated the negative impact on caseloads during the pandemic.
Using the right tools for law firms can make all the difference when it comes to growth. Adopting some of these basic tools could help your law firm be more efficient, profitable, and client-centred.
Whatever tools you choose, ensure that they are secure, and then watch your firm become its most efficient, profitable, and best self this year and beyond.