Law Firm Technology: What Tech Tools Does Your Law Firm Need?
May 4, 2023
Implementing the latest legal technology will help your organization compete with other law firms and differentiate its offerings from those of your competitors.
Adopting legal practice management software and other robust technology solutions will also enhance your ability to serve your clients and provide insights you can use to pursue growth and streamline core business processes.
That said, the law firm technology space has exploded over the last decade. This meteoric growth has led to the development of some truly innovative legal technology, but there are so many tech solutions out there that it can be challenging to cut through the noise and identify software that will make the biggest impact on your legal practice.
In this comprehensive guide to technology tools for law firms, we'll examine some popular use cases for the latest legal software. Additionally, we provide some actionable advice that you can use to find the right legal technology solution for your law firm.
How Technology Can Make Your Law Firm More Efficient
During a recent survey conducted by Bloomberg Law, researchers polled lawyers to learn more about why their organizations are using legal technology.
86% of survey respondents stated that their organizations use legal tech to improve productivity. Other top answers include improving workflows, meeting client or organizational demands, and improving the quality of work.
When you implement modern technology tools, you'll gain access to:
- Automation: Leading legal technology tools include robust automation capabilities to streamline redundant tasks like client intake;
- Mobility: The best legal technology platforms allow you to access your client files from anywhere, be it in the office or on the go;
- Integrations: Upgrading your case management software will give you access to integrations that facilitate data sharing across your entire practice;
- Enhanced Collaboration: Modern legal technology solutions use cloud storage to consolidate your data. Cloud technology promotes better collaboration by giving all authorized parties remote access to your client data;
- Expedited Payment Processing: Top solutions have financial management and online payment processing tools that help you stabilize cash flow;
As you can see, a robust new practice management system can elevate productivity across your entire firm.
What Legal Tools Do Lawyers Use?
The aforementioned 2022 Bloomberg Law Legal Operations and Technology Survey didn't just shed light on why many law firms are adopting legal tech. It also provided insights into which technology tools law firms use to streamline business processes.
Billing software is the most commonly used legal tech. Nearly four out of five law firms (79%) use technology to assist with sending bills and processing payments, which makes perfect sense given the tedium of these tasks.
Legal research tools are the second most common type of technology, with 70% of legal professionals employing them. E-signature tools (69%), cloud storage solutions (62%), and timekeeping software (63%) are among the other technologies leveraged at most law firms.
While these solutions can certainly meet some of your law firm's needs, implementing them won't necessarily give you a competitive advantage.
To gain an edge over other firms, you'll need to embrace more innovative solutions, like comprehensive practice management software. According to the Bloomberg survey, only three of 10 law firms use practice management software.
8 Ways Attorneys Can Benefit from Legal Software
Replacing rudimentary software like Microsoft Office with tools designed specifically for the legal profession can reshape how you manage your practice. Here are some of the most notable areas of your law firm that will benefit from legal software.
1. Client Intake and Onboarding
Manual client intake and onboarding processes are tedious, inefficient, and often filled with friction. The good news is that you can automate this essential touchpoint in the customer journey by implementing client intake software.
Some solutions you should consider deploying to assist with intake and onboarding processes include the following:
VOIP Phone Provider
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service provides better sound quality and reliability than traditional phone connections. Additionally, connecting with a VoIP provider will give you the freedom to forward phone calls to your cell phone and ensure that your clients can reach you when time is of the essence.
Virtual Receptionist Service
Every time a call goes unanswered, a lead is potentially lost. Fortunately, you can make missed calls a thing of the past by using a virtual receptionist service. Services like Ruby provide chat tools, virtual reception capabilities, and more. These tools not only eliminate unanswered calls but also help you reduce your administrative expenses.
Obtaining wet signatures can require unnecessary back-and-forth between you and your clients. E-signature software for lawyers makes coordinating signatures effortless, saves paper, and helps prevent human errors.
Although you may occasionally need to sign documents the old-fashioned way, most files can be executed digitally, enabling you to work more efficiently.
Legal client portals provide you and your clients with a secure platform for sending messages and sharing important files. Adding a client portal to your suite of legal tech tools is a great way of keeping clients in the loop.
Clients with secure access to reliable self-service tools will no longer have to send you emails or tie up your phone lines to receive updates. As a result, your administrative staff will have more time to focus on their core tasks.
Mobile Apps for Lawyers
Leading law firm management platforms like Smokeball also feature mobile apps for lawyers. Our app can enhance your productivity by allowing you to work on the go.
2. Legal Billing & Payment Processing
From tracking billable tasks to sending invoices to clients, legal billing and payment processing solutions can help you better manage cash flow and strengthen revenue for your law firm. Here are a few billing and payment tools you should consider implementing.
Time Tracking for Lawyers
Accurately documenting billable hours is essential to your law firm's profitability. Creating detailed records of billable tasks also builds client trust and helps you optimize transparency.
Automatic lawyer time tracking software makes tracking billable hours effortless, as these tools eliminate the need to manually enter billing data. You can reduce errors, ensure that all billable hours are captured in your timekeeping system, and increase productivity.
Billing and Trust Accounting
Legal billing software allows firms to quickly generate and deliver bills to clients. This, in turn, condenses the revenue cycle, minimizes payment delays, and stabilizes cash flow. Modernizing billing and accounting functions can also cut down on manual labor and decrease administrative expenses.
At the end of the day, your firm will spend less on office administration functions and free up capital to pursue growth opportunities.
Online Payment Solutions
If you want to satisfy clients and make paying for services frictionless, you need an online payment solution. Such a solution provides transparency into what you're charging and when payment is due.
When searching for online payment solutions for your law firm, make sure your chosen platform is reputable, and double-check that it integrates with your legal practice management software. For instance, Smokeball seamlessly integrates with LawPay, a trusted online payment tool for law firms.
3. Legal Case Management
Legal case management technology will make the most notable impact on the client service experience. There are many different legal case management solutions you can use to modernize core business functions and better serve your clients, including the following:
E-discovery tools can help you quickly find case law. Technologies like Logikcull also enable you to automate many aspects of the discovery process.
Logikcull's platform performs automated virus scanning and Bates Stamping to save you time. It also provides filtering tools so you can quickly locate important information, confirm that tasks were complete, and prepare your discovery for filing.
Legal Practice Management Software
If you're looking for a comprehensive matter management and client communication solution for your practice, Smokeball is the answer. Our robust solution includes client portals, document-generation tools, and automation capabilities so you can streamline time-consuming tasks.
This all-in-one practice management platform empowers you to make your practice more productive and profitable while enhancing your ability to serve your clients. When you're ready to modernize your tech stack, book a demo of Smokeball and experience our innovative platform for yourself.
4. Legal Research
Legal research lays the foundation for successful case outcomes. That said, finding relevant case law and perusing huge libraries of rulings can be a tedious, time-consuming endeavor. This non-billable time hinders productivity and cuts into your profits.
The good news is you can accelerate your legal research processes by leveraging the latest legal tech. Modern legal research tools help you quickly locate case law, regulations, statutes, and other relevant materials.
5. Understanding Law Firm Performance
With the right tools in place, you'll be able to access valuable law firm insights and monitor the health of your practice. Leading solutions make it possible to track everything from total billable hours to individual attorney performance. You can use this data to identify what you're doing right and which processes should be revamped.
When you have a complete picture of your firm's performance, you can overcome growth barriers and achieve your business objectives.
6. Legal Document Automation & Management
Legal document management software like Smokeball provides intuitive document automation and management tools that help you create new documents with exceptional efficiency.
These tools use previously gathered information, such as client contact details and appointment dates, to populate motions, letters, and other commonly used forms.
Document population tools will reduce the need for manual data entry, save time, and decrease the likelihood of errors. These solutions not only assist with document creation but also provide you with a secure location to store, manage, edit, and share files.
7. Accounting and Financial Reporting
Keeping detailed financial records is essential to the success of your business. Using dedicated legal software to manage your financial reporting and accounting processes can help you stay organized, optimize fiscal visibility, manage costs, protect cash flow, and identify sources of waste.
Replacing outdated tools like spreadsheets with a modern alternative will also ensure that you never lose sight of the balance between expenses and revenue.
8. Solving Niche Challenges Unique to Your Practice Area
The specific needs of your law firm will vary based on your practice area. Fortunately, you can make sure your firm's needs are met by implementing versatile law practice management software like Smokeball. We respond to the challenges facing various practice areas by developing software tools for niches such as:
- Family law
- Personal injury law
- Real estate law
These are just a few of the many practice areas we serve with our comprehensive software solution. We invite you to explore the unique features we offer for your practice area.
How to Choose the Right Technology for Your Law Firm
As you start assessing solutions for your law firm, use the following tips to identify the ideal platform for your needs.
Before you begin your search, we recommend defining your "why" and identifying which problems you want your new technology to solve. By listing your problem, you can quickly rule out any solutions that don't meet your firm's needs.
For instance, let's say document management is one of your biggest productivity barriers. If a platform lacks document management automation tools, it isn't a good fit for your practice.
When listing the challenges your business faces, you'll also want to determine what tools you need to solve them. These tools should be considered "must-haves" when searching for your law firm management software.
Assess Fit, Form, and Function
Once you've narrowed down your list to a few promising solutions, assess the fit, form, and function of each. In other words, ensure that each piece of technology will actually work for your practice. Also, make sure you determine whether the solution can integrate with your existing tools and tech.
The best way to vet a platform is to book a demo. During your demo, you can gauge the solution's user-friendliness, functionality, and versatility.
Consider Your Security Stance
Your law firm has an ethical obligation to safeguard client information. With that in mind, it's vital to ensure that the solution you implement is secure.
While new technologies represent a valuable asset to your practice, they'll also have a significant impact on law firm data security. Before implementing more technology into your firm, find out what sort of cybersecurity measures the developer has put in place to protect your data.
Technology for Law Firms: The Bottom Line
Sophisticated law practice management software is foundational to the long-term success of your firm. Implementing a leading technology solution can set the stage for increased productivity, give you access to the best tools, and automate redundant tasks to save time.
Smokeball is the ideal platform for larger firms, up-and-coming practices, and thriving mid-sized organizations alike. Our dynamic suite of tools and features can reshape how you interact with clients, manage billing practices, and prepare documents.
Want to learn more about the capabilities of Smokeball? If so, book a demo and see why legal organizations consistently put their trust in our solution.
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