Many small law firms run their business with mostly pen and paper, along with a few excel spreadsheets, word documents, a calendar, and maybe a Google doc or Dropbox folder.  If this sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone.  For a small law firm with a few clients and small cases, this may work just fine.  But even if this strategy is working for you right now, will this still work when your law firm starts expanding and growing?  You’ll probably soon realize that this strategy just won’t cut it down the road.

Problems with these methods:

  1. No written history of calls, notes, meetings, or tasks.  Good luck trying to juggle dozens of clients and cases that all have unique contact information and case details with just pen and paper.
  2. You jot notes down on a notepad or sticky notes? That’s great, until you need some information while you’re out of the office.  Or, even worse, you spilled coffee all over your desk, ruining all of your notes in addition to your favorite tie.
  3. That e-mail that you keep meaning to reply to? It’s on the second page of your inbox, which means you’ll likely never see it again.  And there are probably even more e-mails that need your attention that you completely forgot about.
  4. Same thing with missed calls.  You hope they call back again, but who knows.
  5. Are all of your law firm’s lawyers and paralegals on the same page? If not, you may start to see some issues.
  6. Even if you are using a few programs to help manage your business, independent software generally doesn’t sync together.  If your information is duplicated, missing, out of date, or corrupted, what do you do?
  7. Multiple programs and servers means that your existing solution is expensive, not secure, and may even be prone to problems, crashes, or viruses.  This means lost productivity and wasted time and money.
  8. If your firm is entirely reliant on what’s in one lawyer’s head, he or she can’t take a day off or go on vacation without the rest of the firm grinding to a standstill.

Myths and excuses for not using a software

  1. It takes too much time and money to set up.
  2. I don’t have the time to learn how to use any software.
  3. Using software will take more time than how I currently do things.
  4. Everything is working just fine right now.
  5. It’s not safe from hackers!

These myths are keeping you and your law firm from adding clients and becoming more productive!  If your law firm is growing and starting to see problems stemming from this growth, you may want to consider investing in a law firm management software.

Now that you’re considering looking for law firm management software, let’s discuss some of the attributes that this software should have.

What you should be looking for in a law firm management software

  1. Easy to use, limited to no setup time, and easy training.
  2. Easily add and train future lawyers and paralegals.
  3. Affordable for your law firm today, but also has the ability to grow and scale with your firm.
  4. Ability to access your data anywhere you have an Internet connection.
  5. Mobile access from smartphones and tablets.
  6. Reputable company that won’t just disappear one day.
  7. Ability to export data to excel so you can switch companies in the future, if you so choose.
  8. Features you’re likely to want:
    1. Contact management, or CRM
    2. Case management
    3. Time tracking
    4. Billing and invoicing
    5. Expense tracking
    6. Accounting
    7. Online payments

If you’re still reading this article, you’ve probably realized that investing in some law firm management software is a smart decision.  So, now what?  You should organize all of your data and information in order to easily input it into your new law firm management software.

Preparing to use law firm management software

  1. Create a list of all your clients, including leads and potential clients, in an Excel spreadsheet with the following information:
    1. First name
    2. Last name
    3. E-mail address
    4. Phone number
    5. Notes
    6. Open cases
    7. Anything else you want to keep track of
  2. Choose one of the many law firm management software’s that are out there.

Tips for when you start using your law firm management software

  1. Organize your clients by client or case status (client lead, open case, closed case, etc.)
  2. Create task reminders to follow up with every client
  3. Write detailed notes about every call, meeting, and interaction regarding a particular client or case

If you’ve successfully implemented your new law firm management software, you should notice an improvement in organization and productivity almost immediately.  You will feel in control of your firm, instead of feeling as if your firm was in control of you.  You can delegate tasks to another lawyer or paralegal, and keep track of their progress.  You can work from anywhere in the world, enabling you to take a vacation.  You’ll have more freedom, peace of mind, and success.

Good luck!

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