Paralegals are highly-trained professionals, performing a wide range of mission-critical support services—but they are often overburdened by routine, low-value administrative tasks. This is where paralegal software can help.
Legal software for paralegals automates time-intensive administrative tasks, allowing paralegals to focus on higher-value (and ultimately more interesting) activities. So, how can you identify the right paralegal software for your firm’s paralegals? By reading this guide.
Let’s dig into the software that paralegals typically use, discuss common paralegal software pain points, and explain how to choose the right paralegal software programs.
What software do most paralegals use?
Paralegals across all types of firms typically rely upon file management, document management, accounting/billing, and email software. Additionally, they might use a host of other software solutions depending on their firm’s line of work and the paralegals’ specific responsibilities.
Common legal software for paralegals pain points
While software can be a saving grace for endlessly busy paralegals, this isn’t always the case. Paralegals often face common pain points that hinder the software’s efficiency and cause endless frustration.
For example, their software might be too complicated to use. This negates any potential productivity gains firms hope to unlock by implementing the tool in the first palace. Conversely, it may be too limited in its capabilities—reducing the positive impact that it can have.
Or maybe it doesn’t integrate with other tools, keeping data siloed across disparate systems. Perhaps worst of all, some software offers limited to no automation capabilities. This means paralegals have to waste unnecessary time on manual processes (such as manually entering clients’ data into the system).
What tools do paralegals use?
Generally speaking, paralegals use a file management system (for example, to conduct conflict checks), document management system, and billing/accounting system, alongside typical communication tools such as email, phone, and Slack.
How to choose the right paralegal software programs
Right, enough of what to avoid—let’s dig into how paralegals can identify the right paralegal software programs to fit their needs. Bear these points in mind when assessing potential paralegal software providers.
Paralegal software should be easy to use
This is a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter how many novel features a new tool offers if users don’t know how to use them. Like all good tools, legal software for paralegals should be as complex as necessary but as simple as possible. It should provide innovative, value-add functionality—but you shouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to put the software to good use. Implementing easy-to-use software ensures paralegals can get up to speed as soon as possible and derive value from the software immediately.
It’s important to remember that other employees at the law firm might also need to use the software. So, even if your paralegals are tech whizzes, choose an intuitive solution everyone can use.
Clients might also need to interact with the software—for example, uploading documents or attending virtual meetings—so you must pick an easily accessible solution. The best paralegal software providers are built with clients’ needs in mind. For example, Clio for Clients eliminates unnecessary back and forth, providing a secure, all-in-one portal for all client-attorney communication.
Paralegal software should be versatile
Every paralegal’s job is different. Therefore, paralegals working in a real estate firm will need different software than a paralegal working in a civil litigation firm. In fact, two paralegals working for the same firm might even require different software depending on their specific roles and responsibilities.
While “all-in-one” software might sound appealing, there’s no use in picking a generic legal software for paralegals that‘s a jack of all trades but master of none. For example, a solution that boasts client communication capabilities but doesn’t encrypt the messages. Implementing this type of software will inevitably backfire. Paralegals will soon realize the drawbacks, and your firm will have to either implement a secondary tool to make up for these deficiencies or scrap the software entirely and start the entire process from scratch once again.
It’s also worth highlighting that firms might change direction and pivot into different practice areas. Hence, firms should consider choosing software that can be customized as they see fit, or that integrates with a wide range of additional software. Integration-friendly solutions, like Clio, can easily fit into any workflow, making them an indispensable tool in paralegals’ armories.
Paralegal software should make your life easier
It’s easy to get distracted by what a paralegal software solution does, rather than how it helps. But remember: Fancy features alone don’t make for effective software. Instead, the true litmus test is whether the software makes paralegals’ lives easier—saving them time, effort, and stress.
The best software directly addresses paralegals’ most common pain points, using automation to expedite time-consuming manual processes. Take document automation, for example. Lawyaw reports that the average firm spends 20% of available hours on routine drafting—time that could be better spent elsewhere, such as on high-value billable work.
By automating document drafting, paralegals can focus on more important tasks while ensuring ongoing control and accuracy over their documents. That’s why Clio provides a Lawyaw add-on, ensuring Clio users can seamlessly benefit from the latest document automation technology at no extra cost.
Paralegal software should accommodate remote work or freelancing
The COVID pandemic forever changed how law firms operate, proving the viability of remote work. 78% of law firm employees prefer hybrid working models—hence, according to our 2021 Legal Trends Report, 81% of firms have now enabled remote working arrangements. In fact, 54% of attorneys would leave their firm if it refused to offer hybrid working going forward.
Paralegal software must accommodate remote work, whether for in-house or freelance paralegals (with freelancing becoming increasingly popular in recent years). Cloud-based software does just this. Paralegals can access critical documents wherever, whenever. They can collaborate seamlessly with attorneys, legal assistants, other paralegals, or clients.
In other words, they can be just as effective working remotely as they are when working from the office. Win-win.
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Final notes on paralegal software programs
By implementing the right software, paralegals will become more efficient. They can automate mundane, routine tasks—allowing them to focus more on higher value activities—and integrate their entire tech stack to create efficient workflows.
Implement cloud-first legal software for paralegals, ensuring your firm’s paralegals can work productively, whether they’re in the office or working from home. For example, like Clio. Our paralegal software is intuitive, customizable, and integrations-friendly. It frees paralegals from administrative burden, increasing both their productivity and performance.
But don’t just take our word for it.
As Kelsey Bangerter, Support Staff at Payne and Jimenez, P.C., says: “Clio is an amazing program that is easy to learn and easy to use! We use Clio every day, and we are learning how to use it even more efficiently. They keep coming up with bigger and better features that we didn’t even know we needed! This is a must-have for any law firm, especially ones with Paralegals. We especially love how easy it is to integrate with Google. If you don’t have Clio, you are already behind!”
We published this blog post in July 2022. Last updated: .