Written by:

Jane Oxley

The Top Five New Innovations Small Law Firms Are Making

December 10, 2015

There has never been a more interesting time to be part of the legal industry. As this infographic from Raconteur highlights, technology is completely disrupting and forever changing the way small law firms operate, and the industry is poised for even more innovation in 2016. The firms that stand out in the year ahead will undoubtedly be those that stay ahead of the curve when it comes to legal tech adoption.

So what are the top five innovations small law firms are making? Here’s our take on Raconteur’s findings.

Document Management

Raconteur found that 84 percent of small law firms have implemented changes to their document management systems, and an additional 13 percent are planning to do so in the year ahead. We’re hardly surprised. After all, traditional document management is one of the biggest time and expense sucks at most small law firms. The average legal employee using traditional document management systems is believed to spend 3-4 hours per week looking for the documents they need, and between $7,000 and $13,000 a year on the paper needed to print those documents.

Smart attorneys are recognizing that there is a better way. In fact, when asked what they expect to be the biggest change due to legal technology in the next decade, 35.3 percent said they predict that paperless offices will become the new normal. Many of these attorneys are turning to Smokeball to solve their document management problems. Our solution gives your small law firms a single secure, easy-to-access location to store all of your emails and documents in the cloud, and automatically organizes them into a file for each client matter so you can find them in a snap. Take that, traditional filing systems!

Resourcing Legal Work Through Paralegals

74 percent of law firms are innovating to resource more legal work through paralegals, and an additional 8 percent are planning to make this change in the year ahead. This shift is thanks in part to the growing popularity of the profession. According to Online Paralegal Programs, there are currently over 277,000 paralegals in the US, and this number is expected to increase 17 percent between 2012 and 2022. Smart law firms are recognizing that legal technology solutions are positioned to aid paralegals rather than replace them. At Smokeball, paralegals tell us time and again that our tool is a game changer in their work, allowing them to communicate more effectively, work more efficiently and keep the wheels of their small law firms turning. We even offer a Certified Smokeball Paralegal Program to help paralegals get up to speed on our solution and strengthen their Microsoft Office, time management tool and productivity app skills.

Matter and Case Management

82 and 78 percent and of law firms are innovating their matter management and case management systems, respectively. Again, this change is driven by a desire for increased efficiency and productivity among legal staff, and different matter and case management systems are answering the demand in different ways. For example, ​Smokeball’s solution​is based around the automatic creation of a digital file for every matter your small law firm works on. Important details about your matters are saved as you go, and from within each matter file, you can see a record of all your client correspondence, pull up contact details and notes, and create and store documents and emails automatically. Doing away with Post-It Notes, legal pads, Excel sheets and handwritten journal entries in favor of a centralized manner and case management system like Smokeball will allow you to deliver the high quality, quick turnaround service your clients demand. And what could be better than happy clients?

Department Restructuring

New innovations in legal tech have motivated small law firms to rethink their structure and setup entirely. According to Raconteur, 42 percent of law firms have implemented department restructuring, and an additional 16 percent plan to do so. As technology solutions continue to improve, many law firms are finding that they don’t need as many people as they once did in roles like research or administrative services. Rather than cutting these staff members from their rosters entirely, smart firms are restructuring their departments and moving more employees into roles such as client service and marketing. These shifts have the potential to allow your small law firm to take on more business and serve clients better, while leaving more mundane tasks like filing and correspondence management to be handled by smart software.

Document Automation

Raconteur found that 42 percent of law firms have implemented innovations to their document automation processes, and an additional 29 percent plan to do so. It makes sense that document automation should be the next frontier for law firms that are aiming to improve through the use of legal technology. In fact, Knowledgetree reports that 60 percent of legal employees waste at least one hour a day duplicating work, and 30 percent of documents sent to clients contain obsolete information. But forward-thinking attorneys are recognizing it doesn’t have to be this way. They’re exploring digital document automation solutions, and many are turning to Smokeball. Our solution​eliminates the need to use “find and replace” to modify documents through the use of smart templates that​​ automatically fill with client and matter information at the press of a button. It works with everything from letters to court forms and fee agreements, and can be fully customized to include templates for any document you use regularly. If you’re like most attorneys who want to stop wasting time manually modifying documents and eliminate the risk of sending error-laden files to your clients, Smokeball could be the solution for you.

In fact, Smokeball is an all-in-one tool that can make it easier for you to get up to speed on most, if not all of the innovations small law firms need to make to stay competitive. Learn more about the innovations you need to be prepared for in 2016 on Raconteur.net, and when you’re ready, ​get in touch​with Smokeball . We can’t wait to help you take your practice to the next level in 2016 and beyond.

 

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