If you are looking for ways to increase practice efficiency, de-clutter much of the paper mess that you currently shuffle through, and ultimately increase your bottom line, here is where you should start:
1. Start Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System
Implementing a CRM is not very expensive, and there are many that are tailored towards lawyers, called Virtual Law Offices (VLOs). In a 2010 ABA survey, 14% of lawyers polled said affirmatively that they use Internet-based software to communicate with clients, and that number is on the rise. VLOs allow you to manage clients from any computer in the world, track billable hours, receive payments, make appointments, etc. Our business operates with one and we wouldn’t dream of life without it now.
2. Build an Attorney Website
It’s simple to get a website up and is affordable for literally everyone. You can create your own site for free, or pay a legal web design company to create a nicer custom one for you. For about $2,000 you can have a great looking site that is built to have you found in Google. If you need more clients, most design companies can do additional marketing to improve your site’s ranking in search engines.
3. Go Paperless.
We know … it’s a daunting task. Converting thousands of your documents can be overwhelming even to think about. In many cases it isn’t even possible, as you will have to present certain documents in court. So start by selecting one process you do now, that can be done paperless. If you don’t already, start using an online calendar like Google’s – you can sync it with your phone and access it from anywhere. The dusty rolodex you’ve had for 12 years? Have someone in the office put it into Outlook or Google contacts…then you can see it wherever you are.
4. Make Yourself Mobile
There are countless numbers of cell phones to choose from, but if you are looking at smartphones, we recommend a Blackberry, an iPhone, or any Android-ready phone. These phones make writing email and general communication easy. One of their strengths is that they are very customizable, so if you have written off ever using a smart phone, you may want to rethink. They can be stripped down to the basics for simple users, and many apps can be added to help productivity. In a recent survey of attorneys, 27% of respondents said they use at least one legal-related app on their phone.
5. Pick Up a Tablet
Tablets aren’t for everyone, but they can be a great way to keep track of just about everything for attorneys. Smaller and lighter than a laptop, but larger and more functional than a phone, tablets allow you to read documents and websites, while easily fitting into your briefcase. 1 in 5 firms says an iPad is available for their employees to use. An iPad or Andriod-enabled tablet is your best bet.
Check back in with us periodically for more tips on how to stay ahead of the game in the legal industry. For more ways to help your firm excel online, contact us.