The most successful law firms today use legal technology to work more efficiently and securely. Given technology’s delayed adoption in the legal industry (compared to industries such as finance and ride-sharing), you might be wondering, how is technology used in being a lawyer?
The answer: almost in every facet of the job! Here’s the beautiful thing about the rapid innovation in the legaltech space—due to the adoption of technology, there is a myriad of software tools lawyers can use in nearly all their work.
We outline some of the most common ways lawyers use technology to serve their clients and make the most informed business decisions for their firms.
How is technology used in being a lawyer — 6 ways
1. Billing clients
According to our 2020 Legal Trends Report, on average, firms only collect 88% of what they’re owed. Where does that 12% vanish off to? Oftentimes cumbersome billing processes (or lack of a process at all) cause invoices to go unaccounted for. Antiquated policies, such as requiring clients to pay via check, create hurdles for those on the receiving end of the bill. This means you and your staff are tasked with pestering clients for payment when you could be taking on billable work to help more clients.
All this to say, legal billing software is a saving grace for many in the industry, specifically solo attorneys and those working at small firms. Instead of manually creating a bill from scratch every time, technology helps you automate bill creation and collection with just a simple click of a button.
2. Managing the day-to-day of the firm
According to the 2021 Legal Trends Report, lawyers record only 2.5 billable hours per day on average. What’s responsible for this low utilization rate? Attorneys, especially those running their own firms, wear many hats which pull them away from doing important client work.
The solution? Law firm management software. Automating administrative work frees up your workload and calendar so you can focus on doing billable work that directly helps your clients. Not to mention avoid billing mishaps and time tracking errors by investing in software that does it all. Combine your matter management, client intake, and calendaring into one easy, streamlined workflow.
3. Document automation
At first, it might not seem like a time-intensive area of the business, but creating documents from scratch and keeping them organized can easily become a drain on resources.
Clio’s Document Automation feature allows you to create a document template with Merge Fields from your Contacts and Matters. These Merge Fields automatically pull information from a Matter in Clio and put them into your documents—saving you time on data entry and proofing. Not to mention removing the risk of costly mistakes. In addition to automation technology, free document templates are also useful in saving lawyers’ time.
4. Client communication, intake, and booking
Good communication is foundational to building a prosperous client base. And if you’re thinking of simply “winging it,” that’s not an ideal strategy. Without policies and tools such as onboarding systems and follow-up processes in place, your firm will lose out on billable hours. Without processes, emails can slip through the cracks and phone messages left on sticky notes are easy to go missing.
From client intake to billing, your firm should have processes for every stage of the client journey. This way, clients are taken care of when it comes to every interaction they have with your law firm. Client intake software helps lawyers easily and quickly onboard new clients and track the various stages of each client’s matter. This is just one example of how technology makes it easier for lawyers to be client-centered.
5. Accounting and financial reporting
When working at a small firm, we know how important it is to keep costs low. While Excel for lawyers and other cumbersome, make-shift accounting tools are cheap or even free, there are other costs to be wary of.
Mistakes and mishaps in the books can cost you money down the road. Additionally, your firm might be missing out on payments if an invoice goes missing or payment goes unaccounted. Utilizing accounting software for lawyers ensures your firm is diligently tracking money coming in and out of your firm. And, the best legal practice management technology will have integrations with accounting software, allowing you to have all of your records in one organized place—an accountant’s dream.
6. Solving niche challenges unique to your practice area
Every practice area has its own unique challenges, and emerging legal technology has unique solutions to make life easier for lawyers. From personal injury automation software or family law data intake technology, there are impressive tools to help legal professionals in every facet of our industry.
However, not all practice management systems integrate with other tools you might need. Using countless tools on their own is ambiguous and takes more time. Selecting a firm management software that offers a wide array of app integrations is crucial as your firm grows and requires additional technology to support client work.
Final notes on technology for lawyers
Being a great lawyer doesn’t have anything to do with the technology you use. However, the right legal technology will give you more time and resources to help more clients, and do more of the work that fulfills you. So, leave the administration and accounting to technology, and get back to helping clients.