The people have spoken.

Last week, the geeks at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog asked their readers “what basic processes do law firms still struggle with?” and encouraged them to send in responses.

Well, the results are in and they provide some interesting reading.

There’s a few common themes among them; two of which are maintaining a database and managing documents properly.

Peggy Gruenke said:

“I think they struggle with implementing basic forms and processes around client intake – which is the foundation of the engagement. They get written and developed but used inconsistently or incomplete. That bad data in, bad data out phenomenon. Which circles back to maybe the problem centers on understanding how to collect client information, setting up a good database to store it and having a way to easily retrieve the data. Sorry, kind of threw 2 ideas into one stream of consciousness.” 

An anonymous reader posted this response:

“One of the things that firms still struggle with is managing forms. It was something that has been discussed for years (decades?), but we still have problems assigning responsibility to maintain standard forms and best practices. The main issue revolves around getting the attorneys to review the forms from time to time. Even when a system is set up, it quickly gets out of date because of the lack of action on behalf of those that benefit the most by having a good forms database. So simple, yet still not happening.”

For small law firms, these two basic processes can be a killer, but out of all the confessions they are also the most easily improved with the right technology. In fact, they’re the original reason why Smokeball exists.

The importance of keeping good data probably deserves its own post (keep an eye out for it this week!) and firms’ documents are in essence their product and their brand, so the value of document management cannot be overstated. And it’s not just about creating forms and templates, it’s also about organizing and effectively sharing documents within a firm…

“We have about 90 lawyers and it is frustrating to me that everyone lives in their own silo in terms of sharing work product. If I need to write a Daubert brief, for example, I start from my own past work product, from scratch, or I directly contact people who I think recently did one. We have tried “brief banking” both in paper (years ago) and electronically, but compliance with putting research and briefs in the bank is very poor and the organization/file structure is horrible. It seems so wasteful to me.”

Does this sound like your small law firm?

Are there any issues missing from the list?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think.