The practice of law is changing at breakneck speed. Firms that do not adapt to new technological developments are increasingly being left behind as more tech-savvy law offices grow their practices. This environment can favor younger practitioners, who are more at ease with implementing new technologies than some of their older colleagues.
In the modern legal industry, your firm’s reputation still matters. However, we have found that clients have certain expectations of the advocates they choose to represent them. A lawyer who is lugging in a thick briefcase with heavy paper files might not seem as prepared or competent as a younger, less experienced attorney armed with a laptop or tablet.
We have found that to remain competitive, firms must be prepared to incorporate some technology into their practice. Fortunately, this does not require a complete overhaul of your practice and office procedures. Here are our five tech recommendations that will give you and your firm the greatest bang for your buck.
1. Ditch Paper Files in Favor of a Digital Case Management System
If you are still taking paper files to court, now may be the time to consider upgrading to an electronic case management system (CMS). Like your paper files, a digital CMS stores all documents related to your client’s case in an organized fashion.
Unlike a paper file, with an electronic CMS, you have all of your firm’s files and their contents at your fingertips and can access them from a laptop or mobile device.
Case management systems allow you to be more mobile and get more work accomplished even when you are away from the office. Most also have a basic document generator feature, allowing you to use a template to generate case-specific documents like retainer letters, case closure letters, and entry of appearance filings.
There are a variety of CMS options available, each with different features and price points. Some options even allow clients to remotely log in, view their case files’ contents, and receive updates about activity in their cases.
2. Take Cybersecurity Seriously
In the modern age, lawyers must take the security of their firm’s digital information seriously. You may have your clients’ personal information, including their addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and bank information, stored on your firm’s network. This makes law firms of any size an attractive target for cyber thieves.
Many states’ ethical rules require lawyers to make an effort to stay abreast of current cybersecurity trends and to implement reasonable practices to safeguard digital information. These practices include how data is stored and protected and how access to your firm’s network is guarded while you are using the internet.
Clients also have expectations that their lawyers will protect their sensitive data from identity thieves and cyber criminals. Effective cybersecurity practices communicate to your clients that you are a competent, modern attorney who is sensitive to their concerns.
3. Look for Ways to Automate Processes
Many of the tasks that you do as a lawyer can be reduced to a series of steps that are repeated for each new case. For example, when you close a client’s case, you likely send them a letter that explains their next steps, return any remaining money in their account, and archive their client file. Modern software and artificial intelligence can often automate and streamline these processes for you.
4. Explore Other Uses of AI Cautiously
If you view artificial intelligence with skepticism and distrust, you may want to reconsider your feelings. An overreliance on artificial intelligence can lead to professional embarrassment, as some lawyers have found out. However, when used judiciously, AI can help you be more productive and free you to focus on other aspects of your practice.
Artificial intelligence can assist you with time-consuming tasks such as document review, contract drafting, discovery, and legal research. You can also use AI to draft correspondence. As AI usage continues to increase and the technology improves, the ability of AI to help with other areas of your practice will increase and expand.
The key to using AI successfully in your law firm is to verify the results it generates. Since it is an emerging technology, it cannot be relied on to be error-free. Ensure any legal citations are accurate and that correspondences and filings are legally sufficient.
5. Consider a Virtual Legal Assistant
If you are a solo practitioner who believes they cannot afford to hire a traditional legal assistant, consider employing a virtual one instead. Like any other legal assistant, a virtual assistant can contact clients, prepare documents, and handle other routine matters necessary to advance your clients’ cases.
However, unlike a traditional legal assistant, you do not need to furnish an office for your virtual legal assistant to use. In fact, you do not have to have any office space at all to use a legal assistant. Most will also furnish their own computer and other equipment necessary to perform their job duties. All you must do is teach them how you want certain tasks to be done.
You could look for a virtual legal assistant on your own, or you could employ the services of a staffing agency that connects virtual legal assistants with law firms. If you choose the latter, we recommend investigating the agency closely and paying attention to the following:
- How the agency vets or qualifies the professionals it represents
- Whether the agency pulls talent only from the United States or from other countries
- Whether the agency handles paying taxes and other HR tasks for its professionals
- Whether you will be working with the same professional month-to-month
Although there are significant differences in the quality of some agencies’ services compared to others, going through an agency is often easier than finding a qualified virtual assistant on your own.
Book a Discovery Call With Woven Legal Today
Woven Legal is committed to the success of your firm. We help law firms of all sizes by connecting them with virtual professionals like legal assistants, paralegals, and client intake specialists. We also support you by taking care of many of the administrative tasks and obligations that come with using a virtual professional contractor.
Learn more about what we do and how we can help your firm succeed by booking a discovery call with us.