The market for legal services is shifting. With so much available on demand, clients are looking for efficiency, integration, and fast answers from lawyers. Technology is essential to achieving these goals. With a few relatively minor adoptions and changes in workflow, small law firms have an opportunity to save time and compete on a much larger scale.
We’ve compiled a helpful guide to technologies — some new, some essential — for the forward-looking small law firm.
Operations and client service
Collaborative technology helps small law firms in many ways. Lawyers can stay informed of changing legislation, network with other lawyers, and update legal forms and documents in moments. Rather than simply being a legal document rubber-stamper, today’s lawyers can use technology to improve operational efficiency and provide a truly personal experience for their clients through direct interaction.
Popular web-based applications include tools like Harvest (time tracking), Gusto (payroll), Google Docs (document collaboration), and Slack (interoffice communication). Many of these are free or relatively low-cost and provide a good entry point to a cloud-based workflow.
Clients expect modern technology
One of the strongest arguments for adopting technology in a firm’s operations and communications is that clients expect digital access. Many modern offices no longer use fax machines or photocopiers. And with remote work becoming increasingly popular, especially among younger workers, mailing documents to physical locations is inconvenient.
Small firms should have the following tools, or be actively developing them:
- A responsive, mobile-optimized website. For a great example, click around the website of New York attorney Jenny Odegard. Bonus points if your website includes resources and a client portal.
- A task-management system. Outlook, Remember the Milk, and Todoist are great examples.
- A document library. Save time by avoiding redundancy, and keep everything in one place with these great cloud-based document storage and sharing options.
Once you’ve nailed the basics, consider distinguishing your law firm by adding services that make communicating with your clients even easier. Some ideas:
- Video conferencing. If your clients are national or global (or if you want them to be), provide on-demand answers with video conferencing. Skype, GoToMeeting, and JoinMe are well-established conferencing platforms, among many others — and they’re a lot cheaper than a plane ticket.
- Online, automated legal services and apps. Virtual assistants, automated invoicing, and an automated social media presence are all good next steps.
- Document collaboration. Apps like Box, Confluence, and many others let you access documents securely and remotely, and offer version-tracking.
Embracing technology demonstrates to clients that you’re paying attention to change. But technology doesn’t just help your clients; it helps you. When invoices are emailed and deposits are made automatically, when reminders are automated, and when you can access documents from any device and any location, you’re free to spend your time on billable tasks.
Intel has a number of tablets and PC offerings that bring power, security, and broad accessibility to legal firms large and small.