Automating Legal Case Management at Your Law Firm
March 29, 2023
For a law firm owner with under 50 legal staff, you understand the difficulties of managing a growing business while providing top-notch legal services to your clients. It can be tough to keep everything organized and running smoothly. Organizing and growing your business might be hard to wrap your arms around because you’re juggling complex cases–perhaps across multiple areas of law–all with their own deadlines.
Law firm automation uses technology to streamline workflows and automate various tasks and processes within your firm. This technology can support your staff on multiple day-to-dos like client intake, document management, and billing. Implementing automation can save your legal staff time, reduce human errors, improve your firm’s efficiency, and increase profitability. While the time investment might seem a barrier to adoption, it’s worth the initial lift.
Keeping the challenges in mind, we’ve compiled all our resources to help your firm introduce automation into your daily operations.
Benefits of Legal Automation for Small Law Firms
There are several benefits of automating aspects of legal work for small law firms, including:
- Greater accuracy in your work. By automating routine tasks like scheduling consultations, generating documents, and tracking time, law firms can improve the accuracy of their work and invoices.
- Improved process efficiencies. Standardizing processes enables your staff to work effectively, guides new hires, and creates a level of expectation.
- More accountability for staff. Automation provides a clear record of work and tasks completed. Automating time tracking can help firms track billable hours and ensure that team meets their productivity targets.
- Increased billable hours for attorneys. Automating routine tasks enables attorneys to increase the number of billable hours by freeing up time for them to focus on higher-value activities.
- Increased firm profits. With automation, your firm can handle a more significant workload in the same amount of time, so you can scale your operations while staying within budget.
- Satisfied clients. Automation also gives your firm other significant advantages, like faster turnaround times and higher accuracy, contributing to satisfied clients.
Read more about setting up law firm automation:
Enabling Change Management at Your Firm
When considering making a change at your law firm, you invoke change management–the process of planning, implementing, and managing change in an organization in a structured and systematic way. It involves identifying the need for change, assessing the impact of the change, developing a plan for implementing the change, communicating the change to stakeholders, and managing the transition to the new state.
To enable change management and adopt technology solutions at your firm, some key steps you can take include:
- Identify the need for change. Determine the business need for the technology solution and how it will benefit the organization.
- Assess the impact of the change. Consider the potential impact of the change on different stakeholders, including employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
- Look for cost-effective automation solutions. Many automation tools and systems are available on the market, some specifically designed for small law firms. These solutions may be more cost-effective than larger, more complex systems. They may be more suitable for small law firms with limited budgets.
- Develop a plan for implementing the change. Create a detailed plan outlining the steps necessary to implement the technology solution, including training and support.
- Communicate the change to stakeholders. Ensure effectively communicate the transition to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and other stakeholders. You can minimize resistance, build support and buy-in for automation within the firm and make it more likely that the transition to automation will be successful.
- Provide training and support. Make sure to provide adequate training and support to employees to ensure that they can use the new technology effectively. To help small law firms implement and use automation systems effectively, provide adequate training and support.
- Monitor and manage the transition. Monitor the progress of the change and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth transition to the new technology.
Read more about creating buy-in and promoting law firm change management:
- EBook: Guide to Implementing or Changing Legal Software
- How to Prepare Your Firm to Adopt Legal Document Automation
- Webinar: How to Implement or Change Legal Software
- Change Management for Law Firms: Executing a Legal Technology Software Change
- The Process to Successfully Implement a Legal Software Change at Your Law Firm
Which Areas of Law Are Best Suited for Automation?
We see the most impact for firms when implementing automation to handle routine tasks, communications, and time tracking. Therefore, automation can be advantageous in small law firms battling a high volume of repetitive tasks requiring managing large amounts of documents or needing to keep track of their billable hour, such as real estate law, estate planning, family law, and personal injury.
It is essential to carefully evaluate your law firm’s specific needs and goals when determining which areas of law are best suited for automation. Consult with legal technology experts or other legal professionals to identify automation tools and strategies that are likely to be most effective.
Time is of the essence for real estate firms. Consider automating document generation to quickly generate legal property disclosure forms, titles, and contracts. Automating notifications will keep everyone in the loop.
Read more about how real estate law firms are using technology to scale their business:
- How Contract Automation Tools Boost Accuracy for Real Estate Law Firms
- Ensuring Smooth Real Estate Transactions with Standardized Legal Workflows
- Workflow Checklist for Real Estate Law Firms in Illinois
- Smokeball for Real Estate Law Firms
Keep top of mind with your current and old clients by implementing automated communications. You can nudge clients to update their documents, refer your business, or send a happy birthday message. Document automation makes it a breeze to execute wills and living trusts flawlessly. With the click of a button, everything falls into place.
Read more about how estate planning law firms are using technology to scale their business:
- Streamline Your Estate Planning Process with Automated Workflows
- Workflow Checklist for Estate Planning & Probate Matters
- How to Organize Your Estate Planning with Legal Document Automation
- Smokeball for Estate Planning Law Firms
As a family lawyer, your time is valuable. That’s why you need to implement automatic time tracking, which tracks time spent down to the second. Time tracking allows you to quickly generate invoices or use the data to assess profitability on a flat-fee matter by reviewing your law firm insights reports.
Read more about how family law firms are using technology to scale their business:
- Workflow Checklist for Family Law Matters
- How Family Law Document Automation Tools Increase Your Firm’s Accuracy
- Setting up Your Family Law Case Workflows for Scalability & Success
Legal matter management software streamlines everything for easy tracking and organization. With a single glance, you’ll know exactly where each case stands. Set up automated workflows to assign tasks, keep everything on track, and follow up promptly.
Read more about how personal injury law firms are using technology to scale their business:
- How Personal Injury Document Automation Software Boosts Your Success
- How to Make Your Personal Injury Law Firm Workflows More Efficient
- Workflow Checklist for Personal Injury Law Matters
- Smokeball for Personal Injury Law Firms
Eight Areas to Implement Law Office Automation from Leads to Billing
No matter the organization’s size, automation can save time and effort while helping provide better service to those in need. To start implementing automation into your daily routines, you’ll want to break down tasks into their respective stages, which allows for simpler tracking and organization.
The client journey starts with lead generation, followed by intake, case management, document management, client communications, time tracking, and billing. Start small and choose one area to focus on at a time. Below are resources on the different areas that can benefit from automation.
Read more about how to make the change to automation:
- How to Prepare Your Law Firm to Adopt Legal Document Automation
- Before and After Legal Document Automation: A Comparison
1. Potential Client or Lead Management
Automating lead management can help your law firm streamline tracking and following up on potential new clients. A customer relationship management (CRM) system stores and tracks lead (potential client) information. From there, you can set up automatic email or phone call reminders for follow-ups and use automated forms or chatbots to collect information from potential clients.
Read more about how to automate lead management with Smokeball:
- Webinar: Uplevel Your Firm’s Website Intake and Lead Conversion Process
- Smokeball’s Lead Management System
2. Client Intake and Onboarding
Automating the client intake process can help your law firm efficiently collect and store client information, schedule appointments, and handle initial paperwork. Implementing online forms or chatbots to gather client information, setting up automatic appointment reminders, and using electronic signature tools to handle the paperwork.
Read more about how to use automation during intake:
- Blog: Legal Intake: What to Know and How to Improve Using Legal Tech
- Smokeball for Client Intake and Onboarding
- Webinar: Elevate Your Client Intake: 12 Ways to Improve Your Process
3. Client Communications
Automating client communications can help your law firm stay in touch with clients and provide timely updates on their cases. Set up email marketing or automated messaging tools to send client updates, create communication workflows, and use online portals to answer client questions.
Read more about how to use automation to keep clients informed:
- Blog: Five Ways Legal Software Boosts Your Client Relationships
- Smokeball’s Client Communications Portal
4. Day-to-Day Legal Workflow
Automating day-to-day legal workflows can help your law firm streamline scheduling, task management, and document management. Using legal practice management software to assign and track task statuses, using document management systems to store and track legal documents, and setting up automatic reminders for deadlines and appointments.
Read more about how to manage routine tasks:
- Webinar: Embrace the Robots: Automate Law Firm Tasks and Grow Your Practice
- Blog: Legal Workflow Articles by Area of Law Smokeball Legal Workflow Software
5. Legal Document Automation
Automating the creation and management of legal documents can save you time and reduce errors. You can use document assembly software to generate standard legal documents, electronic signature tools to handle document signing, and document management systems to store and track legal documents.
Learn more about how to generate documents quickly:
- Blog: Legal Document Automation Articles by Area of Law
- Infographic: Before and After Implementing Legal Document Automation
- Blog: How to Save Time and Money with Legal Document Automation
- Smokeball Legal Document Automation and Management Software
6. Activity Time-Tracking
Automatic time-tracking software can be incredibly beneficial for law firms, so you never miss a billable minute. Tracked time can be pulled in automatically to compile billing entries. It can also provide an overview of your firm’s productivity and profitability, including information on profit per matter, matter type, and staff members.
Read more about why time tracking is a no-brainer for your law firm:
- Blog: The Value of Data-Driven Lawyer Time-Keeping Software
- Infographic: Eight Benefits of Automatic Lawyer Time Tracking Software
- Smokeball’s Automatic Time Tracking Software for Lawyers
7. Legal Billing
Automating legal billing can help your law firm streamline the process of generating invoices and tracking payments. Connect your practice management software to your billing and invoicing software to create and send invoices and online payment tools to accept payments. All of this is supported by time-tracking software to bill for legal work accurately.
Read more about how to automate invoicing:
- EBook: Double Your Billable Hours, Work Less
- Webinar: Take Time Back with Smokeball Billing
- EBook: The Small Law Firm Billing Problem
- Blog: All Articles on Billing
- Smokeball’s Legal Billing and Trust Accounting Software
8. Law Firm Insights
Automating reporting and tracking key metrics can help your law firm stay informed about your business’s health and identify improvement areas. Generate reports on key metrics such as revenue, profitability, client retention, and data analytics tools to track trends and patterns within your business.
Read more about using data to inform business decisions:
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