Over five years ago, consultancy group McKinsey & Company estimated that 23 percent of a lawyer’s job could be automated. Yet, many firms are still lagging in legal technology adoption. Not even the global pandemic that sent countless attorneys home to work remotely could trigger a mass exodus from paper to digital practice management.
This chasm has created an unprecedented opportunity for you and your firm to thrive, by joining those who have fully embraced technology to drive efficiency and future firm sustainability.
Are you finally ready to take action to eliminate those repetitive, tedious tasks from your daily practice and take back 30 percent of your time? If so, congratulations! Deciding to take action is the first step toward change and growth and we’ve provided you with this legal practice management checklist to help you do just that.
“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.” – Heraclitus
Don’t invest in any practice management software without these 9 must-haves!
Before you can start automating, you’ll need to wisely choose the legal practice management software that best aligns with your practice and suits your needs. If you’ve already looked around, you’ve seen that there are many choices on the market. The most significant challenge in comparing features is that the techo-babble doesn’t speak to attorneys. IT language can be confusing and the choices overwhelming.
To simplify the process, we’ve created a checklist of 9 MUST-HAVE features in any practice management software solution for lawyers.
1. Built-in security
Did you know that 1 in 4, or 26% of firms were HACKED last year? The reasons to avoid data loss, leaks, and corporate ransom demands are obvious: 1 in 5 small businesses shut down when attacked by ransomware. The best way to avoid an attack is to double down on security. So, when it comes to selecting software, what do you specifically need to look for? Make sure the software has built-in, enterprise-grade security. The security must include MFA, or multifactor authentication, and integrated antivirus/antimalware protection.
2. Rapid and secure data backup delivery
Things happen. You can lose power unexpectedly. Or your equipment could fail, be stolen, or damaged in a fire, flood, or any other number of unexpected mishaps. With a rapid and secure data backup in place, you will avoid losing your critical, sensitive, and confidential data. Losing your equipment is hard, but the hardware is replaceable. Losing your data is much harder, and sometimes irreplaceable. In fact, the results can devastate you and your firm.
3. Granular user role management
Many different people may need to access your data files, including clerks and paralegals. As you know, many case and matter files include sensitive data that you are required by law to keep confidential. With granular user role management, you get to decide in advance specifically who accessed what files.
4. Robust data encryption
Not all encryption is created equal. And in today’s world of corporate espionage, the level of encryption matters. Just imagine how useful your case notes would be to the opposing parties. To ensure that all your communications STAY confidential, you must choose a solution that offers robust data encryption.
These first four must-haves focused on security issues related to your actual case and matter data: how you access it, how it is stored, who can access what, and how you keep a safe copy. The next series of our legal practice management checklist focuses on the strategic uses of that data, and how it can help you strengthen the future viability of your firm.
5. Intelligent data analytics
Make sure you select an automated solution that simply provides you with the data analytics and reporting you want to see, ideally “right out of the box”. A common need is to be able to evaluate how you spent your time, so you can spot the more profitable types of cases and matters, while also identifying redundant activities to target for automation.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – Peter Drucker
6. Tight integration with software solutions currently in use in your practice
Integrating practice management software doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Look for a solution that simply connects with the daily tools you’re most familiar with and comfortable with. Chances are, you’ll be more successful with a solution that doesn’t require you to learn an entirely new system from scratch.
7. Offers access to online collaboration and communication tools
Today’s modern firm securely and safely collaborates and communicates with partners and staff on all critical case details and matters. Make sure your newly automated firm can do so as well.
8. Includes customer portal capabilities
You must offer your clients a secure way to access their case information anytime. Doing so allows you to level the playing field with large firms and deliver excellent client service. You may already be sharing via Dropbox or OneDrive. While these are better than no digital option, they don’t deliver the excellent client experience found in a client portal. From your side, it’s easy to choose which files your clients can access and engage with, and from their side, you are providing the same high-level experience found at larger firms.
9. Includes a built-in billing solution
Look for practice management software that offers “intake to invoice” automation. A built-in billing solution helps you bill easily and timely so that you can get paid quickly and regularly, while also keeping sensitive client data secure.
Those are the 9 must-haves when selecting practice management software for your firm. If you’re interested in a solution that checks all the boxes, sign up for a free trial, or request a free in-depth demo.