In today’s digital world, technology is often the great equaliser—both in everyday life and, increasingly, when it comes to the law. Choosing the right legal technology offers even small law firms a professional advantage, helping them run more efficiently, satisfy clients better, research cases faster, tackle tasks more easily, and maintain an enhanced competitive output.
But, with so many legal tech solutions available, it’s challenging to determine what technology will function best for your firm.
Below, we’ve outlined tips for choosing tech that’s compatible with your law firm’s needs, the benefits of technology for law firms, and the essential legal technology solutions to keep your modern law firm running efficiently—wherever and however you work.
How to choose the right technology for your law firm
Implementing new technology at your law firm requires careful thought and consideration. Before you adopt any legal tech services, consider the following:
Identify the problem first
When it comes to legal technology, there are many innovative services available to choose from—which can be overwhelming. Instead of committing to every up-to-the-minute startup that crosses your path, start by identifying areas of your practice that could be improved or benefit from a new tool.
Think of it like a jigsaw: Once you know what you’re looking for, you can find and fit in the best services for you and your clients.
Choose tech that will work for your firm
Once you’ve identified technology that could improve your practice’s efficiency, carry out your due diligence to ensure it’s the right fit. At minimum, do these things:
- Ask potential vendors plenty of questions to verify that the solutions you’re considering are compatible with your firm.
- Gather input from multiple stakeholders within the firm to ensure that the product is intuitive, and that it actually helps their day-to-day. The newest, shiniest tool in the world is worthless if your staff won’t use it.
Make sure it’s secure
With a duty to keep client data safe and confidential, and with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for personal data in the EU now in effect, security is incredibly important when lawyers are choosing technology. Keeping security in mind, be sure to ask vendors about:
- Data encryption
- Third-party verification of the vendor’s security measures
- Geographical redundancy (i.e. multiple servers to make sure your firm’s data is always backed up)
How technology can make your law firm more efficient
According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, lawyers only spend about 2.3 hours per day on billable tasks. Where does the non-billable time go? Office administration, generating and sending bills, configuring technology, and collecting payments are all tasks that, combined, eat away 48% of time that could otherwise be spent on billable tasks.
The right technology can help. Here’s how:
- Automation. Automating time-consuming tasks such as client intake and client accounting saves your staff time, and makes for a smoother client experience.
- Integrated systems. The best tools integrate directly with each other. You’ll never have to key in important data twice, or waste time in multiple systems.
- Access from anywhere. With the rise of cloud computing, lawyers can now access their practice from anywhere, so you can work whenever and wherever you’re most efficient.
- Better collaboration. With technology like cloud-based practice management software, all case information is in one place, and anyone can work on a file together—even if they’re working in different offices.
- Streamlined payments. The 2018 Legal Trends Report also found that lawyers who accept online credit card payments get paid 39% faster than those who do not. In other words, with the right credit card processor, technology gets you paid faster.
Essential technology for law firms: 10 modern solutions
Are you interested in giving your law firm a tech makeover, but not sure where to start? When it comes to choosing legal technology, here are just a few of our favourite picks:
1. Office 365: For running your office
If you’re using any technology in your law firm, it’s likely office productivity software (OPS). Encompassing word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, and email, this productivity suite provides—at the bare minimum—the functionality that you need to succeed in the world of business.
After years of running locally installed versions of Microsoft Office, many law firms are starting to embrace Office 365, which offers the same functionality as the original suite, but with the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud.
2. Xero: For law firm accounting
You’re a lawyer, not an accountant—but to run a successful business, you still need to manage your finances efficiently and effectively. The latest generation of cloud accounting solutions provides all the features of a full-time accountant at a fraction of the cost, including payments, invoicing, bank reconciliation, cash flow management, and expense claims.
Xero is no exception. It also integrates directly with Clio, ensuring your invoices, contacts, and payments are automatically synced to your practice management system, with no duplicate entry required.
3. Klyant: For managing trust/client money
As a solicitor, it’s your responsibility to keep client money safe, which can make law firm accounting complex. Klyant is a complete, cloud-based accounting system that helps you manage trust/client and office money separately in a single, integrated system—while Klyant’s suite of management and financial reports gives your firm the tools to remain compliant and track growth.
Designed specifically for law firms and tailored to work with Clio in Europe, Klyant’s integration with Clio allows legal bookkeepers and cashiers to synchronise client and matter data along with firm and trust/client transactions.
4. Dropbox: For on-the-go document storage
With more and more lawyers taking advantage of agile working environments, it’s more important than ever to be able to securely access documents from anywhere.
Enter Dropbox. As one of the world’s most popular applications for document storage, Dropbox streamlines legal document management—so you can safely upload and share files from anywhere. Dropbox’s integration with Clio adds even more flexibility for lawyers: With Dropbox and Clio, you can easily store, manage, share documents, and sync these actions to Clio from any device.
5. DocuSign: For digital signatures
While the pen may be mighty, when it comes to the agreement process, there’s definitely a better way to do business. DocuSign—the world’s #1 e-Signature solution—makes it simple for lawyers to modernise and digitise the agreement process: Using the Sign with DocuSign workflow for Clio, you can send any file that is stored in Clio to DocuSign with a single click.
6. Box: For secure content management
The ability to manage firm documents from anywhere is key to a modern legal workplace. Through a powerful integration, Box lets you share, manage, and sync client and business documents between Clio and Box. And, by using a high level of security—like multiple layers of encryption and access controls—Box helps you stay compliant and minimise risk of data loss.
7. Legaler: For smarter meetings
It’s not always necessary to meet in person—which means there are serious time-saving opportunities to be found in moving some meetings online.
Legaler makes it simpler than ever to meet with clients virtually, with comprehensive tools for scheduling, hosting, and archiving meetings online. After the meeting, Legaler collects important meeting details for you, too—automatically archiving the essentials like you meeting notes, duration, recordings, agendas, messages, and files by matter.
From the client’s perspective, Legaler makes things easy: Clients can meet with you in just a few clicks—without having download video conferencing apps.
8. Lawmatics: For smoother client intake and relationships
While your focus is on practising the law, you can’t practice without clients. Lawmatics makes it easier to convert potential clients into retained clients, and to maintain excellent connections with your existing clients through marketing automation, intake management, and customer relationship management.
With a platform designed specifically for law firms, Lawmatics (which integrates with Clio) automates the intake process and customer journeys—so you’re covered whether you’re working with a potential client or looking to turn your old database of clients into new business.
9. Zapier: For tying it all together
Like the staff in your firm, your software functions better when it works together—this is where Zapier comes in. Using Zapier, law firms can automate repetitive tasks by ensuring that the apps they use in their day-to-day workflow exchange relevant information.
You don’t need a computer engineering degree to make this work, either. Simply create a Zapier account, select the apps you use in your firm from a list of over 1000 (and growing), and Zapier presents a list of Actions and Triggers for each relevant application.
Want to create a new task in Todoist whenever you receive an email from a specific client? Zapier can do that for you. Maybe you’d like a new time entry created in Clio when you create a calendar entry in Outlook? Zapier can do that, too. The possibilities are endless and setup is painless. You’ll be able to brag to your friends about your programming prowess after automating your way through some of the more time-consuming tasks that tie your firm down.
10. Clio: For full-featured legal practice management
Behind every great law practice is a powerful practice management solution. If you’re looking for the best, Clio is the obvious choice. With cloud and mobile functionality, Clio gives you secure access to your firm’s information and management tools—anywhere, anytime. You’ll spend less time on administrative tasks like time tracking, matter management, and invoicing—leaving more time to spend on billable work.
Clio integrates with many of the other apps on this list, which means you can run your entire practice from one place. If your law firm is a body, Clio is the nervous system, simplifying and streamlining the multiple moving parts that make today’s law firm successful.