Case management software (CMS) has been around for a long time but there are still some small law firms who haven’t made the leap. Unfortunately, a failure to at least explore the benefits of CMS could be putting some small law firms at a serious disadvantage. Let’s explore some of the most important benefits of case management software for law firms.
Avoid Missing Deadlines and Legal Malpractice
Deadlines are a daily part of any lawyer’s practice and missing one can have devastating consequences for a client and for the lawyer. If a lawyer misses a critical deadline due to their own negligence, they could be sued for legal malpractice. Nonetheless, some lawyers miss deadlines because they have an ineffective way for maintaining their calendar and they’re depending on their support staff to keep them abreast of upcoming deadlines. Here are a few more reasons why lawyers miss deadlines:
- Improperly prepared documents.
- Oversight during document review.
- Failure to calendar the deadline.
- Delegation of deadline monitoring to someone else.
No matter the reason behind a missed deadline, once a lawyer makes this huge mistake his/her case could be in jeopardy. Fortunately, case management software solves the problem of missed deadlines because as soon as matter information is entered, important deadlines are automatically added to the lawyer’s calendar.
Waste Less Time and Money
Law firms deal with a lot of information and different documents that must be reviewed, edited, stored and referred to again at a later date. The problem is that law firms using a paper system must rely on physical files to find the documents and information they need. Paper systems for case and client data can take up a lot of time when it comes to creating information and retrieving it. Task lists, notes, contact information and signed documents are all filed physically and rely on the accuracy and memory of support staff and associates. But people are only human and they can’t be right 100% of the time. This means that sometimes a document will get filed in the wrong place. Or, an associate may not remember where they made a note about a matter and be forced to look through a file for 30 minutes or an hour. That’s money and time that no client wants to pay for. Even if you have notes and files scanned into your computer system, without CMS it can be next to impossible to find the exact information you need in minutes. The best CMS will allow you to quickly access critical information such as, documents, filings, emails, and the most updated contact information and notes that you made on a case. Case management software can shave off hours the document retrieval process and allow access to important client information and matters in just minutes.
Reduce Billing Disputes and Errors
One of the biggest causes of lost revenue, wasted time, and increased stress for lawyers is billing disputes. While lawyers do their best to record and track time accurately, manual time-tracking leaves absolutely too much room for billing errors. A good case management software is also a poweful legal billing software. Here are some of the most common time-tracking and billing errors even the most conscientious attorneys can make:
- Lost time-tracking notes. If an associate is recording their time on little post-it notes that they enter into a time-tracking system at the end of the month, it’s inevitable that at least some of that time will get overlooked due to misplaced notes.
- Rounding time up or down. When lawyers are manually recording their time, it may be tempting to just round out numbers to make the task easier but doing so can cause under- or overbilling of the client. On one side you have lost revenue for the law firm and on the other you have an inflated bill (and billing disputes) for the client.
- Billing for the wrong tasks. For newer associates or even experienced lawyers who have a very busy schedule, accidentally billing clients for administrative work or other tasks that shouldn’t be billed to them can happen with a manual system.
- Generic, vague descriptions. Billing a client several thousand dollars for something generically labeled “document review” will raise more eyebrows than a detailed description. In manual systems, this detailed description doesn’t happen often enough because time-tracking is too labor intensive so lawyers try to make descriptions as acceptably brief as possible.
Even though clients may not have an insider understanding of how much they should be billed for legal services, if they see an invoice that “feels” wrong, you will inevitably have more billing disputes. But when you’re using case management software, it’s easier to accurately track associate time because the automatic time-tracking system records the associate’s time and activity which gives the law firm and the client deeper insight into what exactly is being done on a matter.
Fewer Embarrassing Mistakes
Document creation is one of the most time-consuming parts of an attorney’s job and it’s also one of the places where the most embarrassing mistakes are made. Here are some of the most common document creation mistakes attorneys and their support staff make:
- Typographical errors. Small typos such as an extra letter at the end of a word or incorrect numbers on pages can have a huge negative impact on the law firm. Clients judge lawyers by these small errors and may begin to perceive the law firm as unprofessional or careless. And in some cases, small typos can cause really big problems like a court deciding to reject a document because the typo changes critical information like a client’s name or birth date.
- Grammatical errors. Creating legal documents with clear and understandable language is critical. Bad grammar can prevent a document from being legible. And if a law firm has a habit of submitting too many documents riddled with grammar errors, they could eventually be suspended from practicing law.
Case management software reduces the chance of making embarrassing and catastrophic mistakes on legal documents by automatically generating and filling out forms. The lawyer or support staff can enter client data one time and the case management software fills in the information automatically. Law firms can even have the client sign the form electronically. This saves time, money, and improves the perception of the law firm as a professional place.
Work from Anywhere
When a law firm is using case management software that is cloud-based, they gain the freedom to work from any location—in the courtroom, between appointments, on their laptop, tablet, cell phone. Using CMS, lawyers can work anywhere and on all devices. No more losing productivity because an associate isn’t in the office.
Modern case management software is transforming the way law firms do business. By allowing lawyers to reduce errors, improve effectiveness, and save time, law firms are better positioned to charge for the efficiency and value they deliver to clients.