In a world where technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, it is no secret that small law firms are be behind the times in legal technology adoption.
Clients in today’s world, however, are sophisticated and empowered, demanding more bang for their buck. They are pushing to get more value from the services small law firms provide. At the same time, advancements in legal technology mean that the available solutions are growing by the minute, making it difficult for attorneys to understand and select the best solutions for their firm. The necessity of reconciling these two trends has pushed the legal industry to a pivotal point with lawyers recognizing that the status quo is no longer good enough and will certainly not guarantee viability in coming years.
Here are 3 red flags that signal change is needed in your firm:
Lack of mobility and flexibility
If you are away from your office, are you still able to conduct most of your daily work tasks? If you answered no, then you may want review your firm’s setup, especially as clients continue to demand more for less – because taking too long to respond to their inquiries can negatively impact client satisfaction. In this global era where business can be won and lost in an instant, having the flexibility to securely access important information from anywhere and through any device (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) is key. And, in a highly competitive market such inflexibility can negatively impact your reputation, the number of client referrals you receive, and your firm’s bottom line.
The ABA Model Rules state that lawyers are required to make reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure or access to information relating to the representation of a client. In terms of client communication, the ABA Model Rules outline that lawyers need to ensure the security of their client communications and must exercise reasonable efforts when using technology to communicate about client matters, as unencrypted email is not always a reliable option. And with 70% of cyber attacks targeting small businesses, it is no longer an option to say, “It won’t happen to me.” If you’re still harboring a fear of cloud-based services, even as consumer demand compels technology adoption, it’s time to reevaluate. Paper-based law offices and on-site servers no longer cut it as secure options. Moreover, law firms positioning themselves as secure data repositories retain a potentially significant advantage over their competitors. Both you and your clients will gain peace of mind through adopting a cloud solution that meets the most stringent security standards for the legal industry.
Manual process burdens
Is your firm still operating with the same processes that were used by lawyers in the ‘70s? If you still use paper file storage, scribble your time entries on paper or enter them into spreadsheets, manually calculate legal deadlines and/or manually proofread and format your legal documents the answer is “Yes.” The next question is “Why?” Your success hinges on producing high-quality legal work and receiving payment for your billable activities. Why then do you continue to dedicate valuable time to completing manual processes in your firm? Couldn’t that time be better spent on billable activities, client development, or your own work-life balance? Your peers in the small law space are already simplifying and automating nonbillable administrative work with technology and you will eventually have to make this change to be successful over the long term. Continuing to delay improvements now will only make the change more difficult in the future.
If you recognize one or more of these red flags in your firm, it is time to evaluate current processes and determine how cloud-based legal practice management software can benefit your firm. You could be leaving money on the table by continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done. More than 75% of law firms that changed their approach to efficiency saw increases in both revenue and profit*.
*Law Firms in Transition, Altman Weil, 2015
About the author
Malobi Achike is an attorney and mobile technology expert with Thomson Reuters. She helps small law firms increase profitability by improving efficiency and productivity.