A lawyer’s primary focus should always be on the law, but many law firms are short-staffed, in-between staff, or just wearing too many hats. This not only impacts the bottom-line performance of the firm but can lead to burnout and missed tasks. Law firms’ day-to-day processes involve a lot of mundane tasks that aren’t directly related to the law, and some of these tasks may be suitable for outsourcing to a third-party provider. Outsourcing frees a lot of time and can be cost-effective, not to mention its benefits for increasing the direct revenue for lawyers.
Not all tasks can be outsourced, however. It’s important for firms to be selective about which tasks to outsource, and to which providers, to give the staff freedom to work on the tasks only they can do.
When Law Firms Should Outsource
Law firms considering outsourcing should scrutinize the daily tasks performed by the entire team (both lawyers and legal staff) and determine which tasks would be better served by external providers. Leaders must consider what team members do each day and which tasks would benefit from a third-party expert.
For example, a team may spend too much time on processing payments, reviewing legal documents, or handling clerical tasks, all of which can be outsourced to improve efficiency and productivity.
Here are some questions a firm should ask before deciding to outsource:
- How important is the task to the firm’s success?
- What is the cost of doing the task in-house vs. outsourcing?
- How capable is the firm or team member at accomplishing the task?
- Are the right team members in the right roles for their skill sets?
These questions can help the firm determine the core mission and values of the firm, how resources are spent, and how outsourcing can reduce costs or create more time for the team members.
How Law Firms Can Find Help for Tasks
Once a firm decides to outsource, it’s vital that they find the right third-party providers to ensure the tasks are completed cost-effectively and up to the firm’s standards. The firm’s success should be the primary factor in choosing the best fit for an outsourcing provider.
Depending on the firm’s size, budget, and team, specific vendors may be used for specific tasks. In other cases, outsourcing to an all-inclusive practice management company is the most convenient and cost-effective choice for law firms to simplify their day-to-day operations.
Finding the Right Outsourcing for Law Firms
Legal outsourcing is widely available, but not every company is useful to every law firm. It’s important to consider factors like remote work or in-house work, costs, and the total tasks the provider can take on.
Exploring Legal Outsourcing Options
Once the firm’s major outsourcing needs are identified, it’s easier to find the right legal process outsourcing provider.
Along with comprehensive legal outsourcing providers, firms can use the help of:
- Court appearance outsourcing: Appearance counsel or court per diems are available to appear at hearings as a representative of the law firm. This not only saves time, but keeps lawyers from wasting time at non-substantive court appearances.
- Case and written work: Specialized outsourcing provides legal professionals who can take on tasks for a law firm, including freelance lawyers. Law firms can bring on a freelance lawyer for assistance with a specific case, a discreet project, or other tasks. These providers may also offer contract attorneys for research and written tasks.
- E-discovery: Documentation takes up a considerable amount of a firm’s time. Several outsourcing providers offer scanning and coding services from contract lawyers to assist with documentation tasks at a much lower rate than an full-time, in-house attorney.
Some other outsourcing options include:
- Legal research
- Case summaries
- Discovery and discovery responses
- Document review
- Powers of attorney
- Legal articles
- Deposition summaries
- Corporate documents
General business tasks can also be outsourced, including billing, accounting, marketing, and business operations.
More and more firms are adopting legal management software to improve processes and streamline efficiency. Equipped with automation tools, legal management software solutions can take on many law firm tasks, including:
Client Relationship Management
Legal technology offers client relationship management tools to help firms maintain clients and grow their businesses. For high-volume processes, such as client intake, a client relationship management tool can automate the process and reduce time spent on non-billable hours.
Case management tools allow templates, tasks, and events to be created in one click or automatically to save time. This tool keeps all client case information in one place, complete with customized filters for specific data.
Documentation takes a toll on the efficiency and productivity of a law firm. Document management tools integrate with popular collaboration platforms like OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive, and Box.com to share crucial documents with clients or team members. Templates can be used to fill in client details quickly and reduce time spent on mundane tasks, and all documents can be created, edited, approved, and archived in real-time with all necessary parties.
Calendar tools make firms more efficient and ensure that critical tasks aren’t forgotten or missed. The calendar tool syncs with Google, Outlook, and other calendar tools to keep track of events and appointments. Deadlines, such as court deadlines and statute of limitations, can be included in the calendar to keep lawyers on track.
Legal billing tools have many benefits, including saving time and reducing human errors. Automatic payment reminders, client-specific payment plans, and on-retainer contracts can be set up for automatic payments, and billing can be adjusted for hourly, contingency, or flat-free rates. The billing platform supports payments from major credit cards and payment providers and once completed, the payments are deposited directly into the trust account.
Outsourcing for a Competitive Advantage
In the changing legal landscape, firms need to differentiate themselves and improve the customer experience without increasing firm overhead or overloading employees. Legal process outsourcing is an excellent solution to improve efficiency and productivity and allow lawyers and team members to focus on the tasks they do best. More outsourcing options are available now than ever before. Law firms can choose between outsourcing to third-party providers special to the legal industry, but many of their processes can be simplified and automated with the use of legal practice management, like PracticePanther.