The law firm model has remained largely unchanged for a very long time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, not quite…we are currently in the midst of a broad, technology-fueled shift that is restructuring our entire economy. Maintaining the status quo is exactly what led to the demise of some big, successful businesses like Circuit City, Blockbuster, Toys R Us, and others. They didn’t innovate, and they were replaced by tech-based alternatives that could better meet the changing needs of customers. In order to avoid a similar fate, lawyers need to adapt the law firm model to be more aligned with today’s market environment. The number one thing you can do to stay ahead of the curve is to implement software extensively into your practice. Read on to learn about the 5 primary reasons why using software is the key to a thriving law practice.
Cloud Software is “Eating the World”
Marc Andreessen famously stated that software is eating the world. His point was that we are seeing a dramatic shift in the way businesses operate and deliver services to their clients. And it’s all happening as a result of software and the increasing role of technology.
Cloud software is particularly disruptive due to the drastically reduced costs, ease of implementation, and the fact that it’s accessible from anywhere. In fact, demand for cloud solutions is expected to grow 18% in 2017 alone, and an estimated 60-70% of all software will be cloud based by 2020.
Yes, even change-resistant law firms are gradually adopting cloud software for common functions like file storage, generating bills, and managing their accounting. It’s a good start, but for the most part, law firm software just serves as a database to store information.
As software continues to “eat the world,” law firms need to get more value from software and use it to automate more and more processes. Software should become the foundation of all your operations, not just a place to store things.
Below are 5 biggest reasons why software is the key to a thriving law practice.
Why Software Is the Key to a Thriving Law Practice
1. Improved processes
Before you can grow any kind of business, you have to implement standardized, efficient processes. If you don’t, you won’t be able to continue delivering the same quality of service at a higher scale, and your margins will become too thin due to wasted resources, halting your growth.
As a lawyer, it’s impossible to grow your practice unless you have the bandwidth to take on more clients, but you can only increase your bandwidth by hiring more staff or freeing up more time. Software helps with both of these things.
It provides the structure necessary in order to implement standardized processes that will help your growing staff work efficiently and stay organized. Software also provides tools to automate common processes that otherwise would consume hours of your day.
By keeping all your data nicely organized and streamlining your operations so you can work smarter, you can open up more hours in the day to spend on business development and other growth-related activities.
2. Reduced liability
The bigger your law firm gets, the more cases you take on, and the more staff you hire, the greater your liability becomes. It’s just the nature of the beast.
But it’s critical to reduce this liability however possible. A malpractice claim can quickly stifle your growth, harm your reputation, or even shut your firm down altogether.
Implementing a systematic approach to running your practice is the surest way to limit your liability and avoid making a costly mistake. Once again, software is the best foundation for such a system.
Software will improve organization, help with calendaring and managing deadlines, and allow you to implement structured workflows so that no important steps are overlooked.
3. Happier clients
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that improving client satisfaction will help your law firm grow. After all, the more satisfied clients you have, the more positive reviews, repeat business, and referrals you will get.
All of these things will factor heavily into your longterm success. But how can software help make clients more satisfied? Isn’t it just used internally by law firm staff?
This was once the case, but not so much anymore. As software evolves, we are seeing more and more opportunities where it can serve as an interface to improve the interactions and communication between a law firm and its clients.
Client portals are being built into case management software to help with file sharing. Online intake forms are being used to facilitate the collection of contact and case information. Texting and instant messaging are becoming common means of communication.
Software can provide a more seamless experience for clients, improving communication and making everyone’s lives easier along the way.
4. Better data
Humans create an astronomical amount of data every single day, and the rate of data creation is growing exponentially. In fact, 90% of all the data on the internet has been created in the past two years, despite the internet having been around for decades.
Data is incredibly powerful and it is completely transforming the way businesses operate. Businesses that effectively leverage their data are poised for dominance in tomorrow’s economy, while those who do not are at risk of disruption and obsolescence.
Just look to the digital advertising industry for proof. Google and Facebook have completely monopolized the market, and it’s purely a result of the massive amount of data they acquire.
Law firms have barely scratched the surface when it comes to capturing and utilizing data, but data will be an increasingly important factor for success in years to come.
The beauty of using software to run your practice is that data is captured automatically, and most importantly, the data will be structured. If you just use Word documents, notes, and emails to manage your processes, you are still creating data, but it’s in an unstructured format which makes it very difficult to utilize.
When you put data into a software program, especially one that has custom fields, you can structure the data in such a way that it can easily be leveraged to measure KPIs and glean other valuable information for your business.
5. More revenue
You obviously can’t grow your law firm into a thriving business without bringing in more revenue. But how can software help?
Well, for one, all of the benefits mentioned above will help contribute to law firm growth:
- Operating more efficiently will enable you to take on more clients and cases, and hire more staff
- Reducing your liability will minimize the chances of incurring a costly malpractice claim
- A more seamless client experience will lead to greater satisfaction, more referrals, and more repeat business
- Better data will provide the key insights that you can leverage to continually optimize and improve
But there are many benefits of software beyond those which will help your firm earn more revenue as well. Here are just a few of them:
- More effective relationship management with professional contacts
- A better lead management and follow up system to maximize your conversion rate and prevent potential clients from slipping through the cracks
- Process automation tools to increase productivity and profitability
- Easier billing and payment processing to minimize uncollected revenue
The key takeaway here is that we are in the midst of a software driven shift that is fundamentally changing how businesses operate in every industry.
In order to get ahead of the curve and set your law practice up for success in the future, you need to take note of these changes, and adopt software into your practice extensively.
Software should be more than just a database to put information. It should serve as the backbone of a successful law practice and provide the foundation to manage all of your processes and operations.
Check out our post on the best software stack for the modern law firm to learn about the products we recommend.