2020 was full of unexpected challenges. We redefined where and how we worked, attorneys finalized cases remotely, and if you’re reading this in December 2020, there’s a good chance you’ve recently attended at least one virtual holiday party. Whatever new challenges await in 2021, we can be sure that the legal industry has been changed forever.
To help your law firm hit the ground running in the new year, we’ve compiled a list of the best legal trends of 2020 – as well as tips for how to incorporate these developments into your own law firm. Read on to get ready for your best year yet!
Remote legal work
It’s no surprise that the rise of remote legal work would appear first on our list. The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses across the globe to adopt a remote work policy, and while some industries had work-from-anywhere policies in place prior to the pandemic, remote work was new to most law firms. The legal field is notorious for in-person meetings and stacks of paper files, but rose to the challenge of changing circumstances.
- To succeed in 2021 – Transparency and communication are key to successful remote work environments. Make sure that your team has a plan to keep each other informed by investing in practice management software that allows all members of your law firm to see the latest developments in a case in real time, as well as automatic time tracking that allows you to see how much time your team is spending on specific tasks and matters.
Automatic time tracking
Gone are the days of constantly setting timers and filling out timesheets. Automatic legal time tracking software, like Smokeball’s AutoTime, takes the stress out of calculating billable hours by tracking the time users spend on different matters and tasks throughout the day. Firm leaders have transparency into how their team members are spending their workdays (no matter where they’re located), and employees can be confident that they’re getting accurate credit – without ever setting a manual timer.
- To succeed in 2021 – Simplify your life by investing in legal software that tracks your billable hours for you. Automatic legal time tracking has obvious advantages for those who bill hourly, by ensuring that no time goes unaccounted for – but it’s crucial for flat fee and contingency based billing, as well. Having a clear picture of how much time you spend on different types of cases and tasks means you can set your fees fairly and manage your caseload in a way that guarantees profitability.
Importance of data
It’s more important than ever that law firms make decisions based on data rather than gut feeling. Knowing how much time you can expect to spend on a case – and how to balance your caseload to ensure a positive outcome, both professionally and financially – is vital whether you’re billing hourly, flat fee, or by contingency.
Understanding your law firm’s key performance indicators (commonly referred to as KPIs) and where you are spending your time will ensure that no matter what surprises next year brings, your business will be able to thrive.
- To succeed in 2021 – Define your firm’s KPIs and how these numbers can help you to measure and drive success. If you’re not sure where to start, Smokeball’s Firm Insights feature offers reports where you can review data on your firm’s business trends, profitability, and more based on automatic time tracking and real-time data.
Clients expect transparency
High speed internet and smartphones have trained us all to expect access to information and connection at the click of a button. Clients involved in a heated personal injury law or family law case demand timely updates on their cases, and those clients working with a real estate attorney are eager to get their buy or sell finalized quickly. 2021’s most successful attorneys will be those who are able to deliver the prompt and personalized service their clients expect.
- To succeed in 2021 – Keep your clients up to date with a lawyer app like Smokeball’s Communicate, which gives you the convenience of text messaging with the security of a client portal. Share files, send automated updates as cases progress, and even track the billable hours you spend communicating with your clients.
Rise of legal tech
All of the previously mentioned topics point to one thing – the increasing importance of legal tech.
Law firms across the country successfully pivoted to remote work with the help of legal software and lawyer apps (while being just as productive, if not more.) Practice management software enables law firms to track and understand they data they need to be more successful businesses, while delivering the flawless client service necessary to set themselves apart.
Our biggest tip for success in 2021? Schedule a customized demo with one of our Smokeball specialists, and see how your firm can bill more in 2021 while increasing your productivity and profitability.