When I first started working as a lawyer more than 25 years ago, technology was hardly a driver of any company’s success. Looking back at 2020 and everything from research to case load management to updating legal news and trends is easier than ever thanks to advances in technology. With all the changes in the industry that I’ve seen, I’ve found that the introduction of new technology has had a particular impact on improving the way my business runs every day and, ultimately, on our customer service and results.
At my Austin, Texas-based personal injury practice, DC Law, we use a variety of out-of-the-box software platforms and bespoke solutions to track results, manage critical workflows and case numbers, and create more efficient processes. Overall, technology has played an important role in the success of my company over the past decade. I wanted to give you some advice on how you can use technology and automation to improve the day-to-day operations of your business as well.
If possible, choose automation
One of the best technical tips I can give is how to automate workflows. To get started, it’s helpful to make a list of the repetitive tasks that need to be performed and perform a cost analysis to get those tasks done. Once you’ve identified processes that are repetitive and know how much you’re currently paying to keep the status quo up, you can start looking for automation solutions that can save you time and money.
At DC Law, for example, we found we spent a lot of administrative time and money on one simple, repetitive task – the answering machine. After identifying this as a workflow that would benefit from automation, we set out to work with a development team to create a smart call routing system for our company.
This call forwarding system helps us prioritize calls and get people to the phone they need to speak to as quickly as possible without the need for an additional admin touchpoint. When a current DC Law customer calls the firm, our intelligent call forwarding system recognizes their number and the call is automatically forwarded to the appropriate contact, so customers can contact their legal team with little to no waiting. On the other hand, if a prospect calls a consultation and their number is not in our system, the call will be routed directly to our admissions team, who will begin the consultation process.
If you’re new to automation and unsure where to start, there are some simple solutions you can start with to cut down on basic data entry tasks. At the beginning of our automation journey, for example, we used webhooks to connect our content management system to our e-mail, so that every time a form is posted on our website from a page such as our personal injury settlement calculator or a post in our Blog is filled out, responses are automatically forwarded to our admissions team and a follow-up action is triggered. Zapier is another great tool that companies can use to start automating tasks.
Invest in customized solutions
When it comes to workflows with a higher touch, we’ve invested a lot in building our own platforms. I recommend that you do the same if you can’t find an existing solution that 100 percent fits your needs. It’s really worth every penny.
Although we use a popular case management system (CMS) designed for law firms our size, we have still encountered some limitations in how the software can perform. Instead of addressing these limitations by paying more annual fees for additional software, we decided to invest in creating our own system that would give us exactly what we need.
After identifying the gaps that were most important to us in relation to our current CMS, we hired an outside developer to help us create a custom case management platform to complement our existing software. Our custom platform puts a much stronger emphasis on simplifying and improving our onboarding and onboarding process for new customers, and offers integrations to help with task management across the company, but more on that below.
Digitize task management
Another area where our out-of-the-box CMS was missing was task management. However, we knew this was an integral part of our daily operations that we wanted to manage online. This led to task management becoming a major focus of our custom platform.
Our trainee lawyers and attorneys must keep pace with multiple cases at any given time during different stages of litigation. Hence, it is always necessary to keep an eye on deadlines and prioritize an endless list of tasks. One of the best solutions to digitize task management was to integrate Trello with our custom case management platform. Trello helps me make sure my team is always at its best and that everyone is moving in the same direction.
In addition to Trello, we use business intelligence software to visualize activity across the company and ensure that every DC Law customer receives great customer service and our case numbers are properly managed. Even in a midsize company like DC Law, there are hundreds of moving parts associated with running a practice. Therefore, it is crucial to use technology to support task management.
Don’t be afraid to invest in technology
While changing workflows can be disruptive and buying new technology can be costly, in my experience it absolutely pays off. We use technology more than most law firms I’ve come across, and I believe it goes a long way in making DC Law stand out in a highly competitive market.
Investing in technology and software saves you time, money, and stress. This directly translates into a better customer service experience, more personal time spent with customers, more cases won and your practice expanded.