Chances are you didn’t study the law to work as a full-time project manager (PM). All the more reason to utilize legal project management technology. In this piece, we’ll outline the benefits of legal project management technology, the importance of investing in software that integrates with your practice management system, and how to select the best tools.
What is legal project management technology
For those working in business and marketing, project management tools are nothing new. In fact, one of the most widely-used project management tools, Asana, (touting 1.3 million paid users), has been around for nearly 15 years. Whereas, legal project management technology is a newer addition to the PM landscape.
And it’s no wonder certain industries have been leveraging the prowess of powerful project management technology. In fact, one marketing project management tool, CoSchedule, claims the average user can decrease their time spent in meetings and on unproductive tasks by 18%.
Project management tools, including legal project management technology, allow users to plan and delegate work in one place with tasks, subtasks, folders, templates, workflows, and more. The best legal project management technology will provide your team with more control and visibility into both larger client projects and day-to-day pipelines such as payments and client onboarding.
The benefits of legal project management technology
As you already know, attorneys at small firms wear many hats. And with so much going on, there’s often little time to focus on serving clients, taking on billable work, and ultimately, practicing law. Thus making legal project management a saving grace, especially for small firms and solo attorneys. With legal project management technology, staff at your firm will be able to:
- Manage their cases more effectively and efficiently.
- Streamline their case workflows.
- Gain insights into their workload and time spent on cases.
- Better understand the costs associated with their casework.
- Improve collaboration and teamwork across the firm.
- Reduce time for new associates to onboard.
- Support independent associate work.
Below we outline exactly how legal project management technology can support your day-to-day workflow and long-term growth.
Project management is seldom flawless and bottlenecks are bound to appear. The key is to be able to proactively see where the stalls are happening so you can quickly jump in and problem solve. Legal project management technology gives you a comprehensive view of all your firm’s activities so you can see when projects are held up and where the backlogs are taking place. For example, if payment hasn’t been received, a good project management tool will provide you insight into the full picture of the workflow. Perhaps the payment reminder email wasn’t sent to the customer.
Keeping everyone organized
Running a law firm in today’s day and age requires a lot of moving parts. Your staff are required to take on a myriad of tasks, some of which might pop up on a last-minute basis with hard end-of-day deadlines. Others could be long-term projects with weekly milestones. Client-facing work will always have its fluctuations. Therefore there’s an even greater need for project management technology to help keep your entire team organized.
Time is arguably the most valuable commodity at a law firm. After all, the more of it you have, the more can be put towards billable client work. By utilizing present-day project management technology, one can easily scope out and build intricate workflows which are then automatically updated as tasks are completed. To do this manually would cost your firm time and money.
While you might consider hiring a legal project manager, the return on investment might be low if you’re a solo attorney or a smaller firm. And the last thing you want to do is push project management work on your already busy legal staff, or risk lawyer burnout by taking it on yourself. Outsourcing work undoubtedly has upfront costs, but when it’s done strategically, it can save your firm time and support revenue-generating activities.
Balanced resource management
The work of resource management can quickly become chaotic, especially with the daily requests that filter in at law firms. Legal project management technology will give you real-time updates on the workloads of your law firm staff so you can allocate work effectively, and make the best decisions for your firm’s growth plan. For example, if your top attorney is inundated with legal research tasks, it might be time to hire a paralegal who can support them.
Legal project management technology keeps everyone in the loop and ensures that everyone involved in the project knows what to work on, thanks to task lists and complementary priorities. This way, you not only stay aligned with the team, but also create focus on continuous and fast-paced delivery of client work.
The best legal project management technology
Trello: This Kanban-style project management tool is cloud-based, giving staff the freedom to work and serve clients from anywhere. Trello allows users to create a board for any project entered into the system.
For example, you might choose to create a new board for every potential client. These boards offer customizations enabling staff members to track and manage the development of a case. It’s easy for staff to give updates on cases after just a glimpse into the Trello board. The benefit of a Kanban-style collaborative work environment is that it provides participants with a visual display of the entire project. Trello offers a 14-day free trial.
Asana: This is another industry-standard, widely used project management tool. Asana also uses the Kanban management method, ideal for allowing users to visualize work-in-progress. Asana effectively breaks down complex projects into actionable tasks in a manner that enables users to prioritize the things that matter most. You can create and assign tasks to specific staff members and identify the dependencies between tasks. Asana offers a 30-day free trial.
Evernote: This is by far the best legal project technology for capturing information for legal research. Evernote allows users to capture and save notes and recordings from the web in various formats. This includes emails, legal briefs, research files, and discovery documents. Evernote offers a 14-day free trial.
While the three legal project management tools mentioned above are industry winners, new software is introduced all the time. We encourage you to do your own research. When networking with other attorneys, be sure to ask them what legal project management tools they use. You can also post in law forums and ask for recommendations unique to your practice area.
Legal project management technology that integrates with practice management software
When comparing the different legal project management technology, be sure to prioritize the tool’s ability to integrate with your legal management software. For example, Clio Manage can sync with Trello via the Zapier integration.
Final thoughts on legal project management technology
With the modern demands of running a client-centered firm, it’s not about if you should invest in legal project management technology, it’s about when. Take a look at your firm’s financial plans and goals. If you can work the price into your monthly costs, and invest time into researching and trialing the best tech, you’ll undeniably thank yourself down the road. As will your clients!