Chances are you didn’t study the law to work as a full-time project manager. All the more reason to utilize legal project management technology.
Just as technology can help lawyers work more efficiently, the right software for attorneys can make legal project management more effective.
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 for your law firm.
What is legal project management technology
Legal project management is an abstract and general term for a legal workflow process. It helps provide a systematic approach to the planning, controlling, and completion of legal work within a clearly-understood framework.
Essentially, legal project management technology helps attorneys plan proactively, establish deliverables, and measure progress and success.
This kind of technology is used to help define, for instance, the parameters of a matter from beginning to end. This includes:
- Initial phase: Planning the course of the matter.
- Execution phase: Managing the matter.
- Closing phase: Evaluating how the matter was handled (from both the firm and client perspective).
For those working in business and marketing, project management tools are nothing new. But legal project management technology is a newer addition to the project management landscape.
While not all law firms necessarily need a legal project manager, most growing firms could benefit from project management, since they enable users to plan and delegate work in one place with tasks, subtasks, folders, templates, workflows, and more.
The benefits of legal project management technology
No matter the size of your law firm, having sound, efficient, and proactive processes are key to success as your practice scales and grows. Having proper processes in place means consistency in how your firm handles matters, manages budgets, sets fees, or delivers client experiences.
This makes legal project management a saving grace, especially for small firms and solo attorneys, who may often find themselves wearing multiple hats.
With legal project management technology, staff at your firm can:
- 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.
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 time you have, the more you can put towards billable client work.
By using 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.
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
Here are some project management technology tools that are helpful for keeping things organized.
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.
This is another industry-standard, widely-used project management tool. Asana effectively breaks down complex projects into actionable tasks in a manner that enables users to prioritize the things that matter most. This tool also uses the Kanban management method, ideal for allowing users to visualize work in progress.
You can create and assign tasks to specific staff members and identify the dependencies between tasks. Asana offers a 30-day free trial.
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 lawyers, be sure to ask them what software for attorneys and 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
Using relevant legal technology leads to a more productive and efficient law firm. But when comparing different legal project management technology, be sure to prioritize the tool’s ability to integrate with your legal management software.
Integrations enable you to connect to productivity apps, like practice management software. You can automate repetitive work and sync data between your tools so that tedious tasks are completed faster, such as:
- Data entry
- Time keeping
- Filing emails to cases
For example, Clio Manage can sync with Trello via the Zapier integration. Clio also can integrate with over 200 apps that your firm needs to stay on top of project management.
We cover this topic more in our blog post on the top legal tech tools for lawyers.
Another example: Legalboards is a matter management software and the winner of the Most Improved App category in our Launch//Code Developer Contest at the 2022 Clio Cloud Conference. Its visual workflow automation platform helps legal practitioners create and organize repeatable processes to reduce the time spent orchestrating tasks along a case’s lifetime.
And, of course, there are also all-in-one legal software systems that offer legal project management tools, so you can organize, allocate, and collaborate on tasks at your law firm, in the same place as, say, where you bill your clients, collect payments, or conduct client intake.
The best legal software will provide your team with the kind of project management that delivers more control and visibility into both larger client projects and day-to-day pipelines.
Want to learn more? Be sure to check out our legal technology resource hub.
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!