Within a rapidly expanding legal market and a fast-paced technological world, lawyers today are faced with juggling a number of concerns within their firms. But what exactly keeps partners up at night? Maintaining client privacy, managing client communications, and retaining talent are just some of the top priorities for law firms seeking to stay relevant and competitive.
Employing disruptive technology — innovations that create new value markets and eventually displace existing ones — is one strategy law firms can use to differentiate themselves from competitors, employing technologies such as cloud-based management systems to improve communications and internal dynamics within the company. Here are five key priorities legal leaders should keep in mind when using disruptive technology to boost their firm:
1. 'Hire' a Virtual Receptionist
Law firms are increasingly using automated technologies to handle communications and keep things in the office running smoothly, leaving firms that are only at the beginning stages of digital transformation with a fear of falling behind. For those businesses, virtual receptionists can be crucial to the business. Customizable and automated, virtual receptionists can route calls according to the need of the firm, record incoming messages for data-keeping purposes, and provide recorded messages to callers for commonly asked questions, streamlining communications and cutting down on correspondence backlogs.
They are also cloud-based, housing centralized and protected call data for future use, and they can scale with the business — as the firm grows through their digital transformation, so will their virtual receptionist. The firm saves costs associated with hiring new receptionists and is better able to juggle multiple extensions as the business evolves, all while maintaining today's expected levels of professionalism.
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2. Track Data Accurately with Integrations
Client communications and data privacy are two major priorities for any successful law firm today. Firms that use on-premises servers to run software for client management or communications take on the added responsibility of having to keep all client data private, manually tracking all calls and messages to keep accurate records of client correspondence. One wrong configuration or missed update, though, and that data can be left exposed or unrecorded.
Cloud-based integrations can put such fears to rest by using the power of the cloud to store and track data efficiently. When properly integrated, these systems automatically track any inbound or outbound calls from any device, keeping correspondence data in one central location and — as an added bonus — maintaining a strong record of billable communications. Clients don't have to install anything, and the firm can add notes to each call for added record-keeping. What's more, software updates are completed automatically and regularly, ensuring the most up-to-date versions of the integration are deployed, saving IT personnel time and effort and allowing lawyers to stay focused on more pressing legal concerns.
Data-logging technologies also help firms stay more productive by providing an encrypted client portal that keeps both lawyer and client correspondence private and centralized. Clients can log in and respond to their lawyer's questions, add documents, and remain continually informed and up-to-date regarding their case. Lawyers can share legal documents, notes, and respond to client questions, all within an encrypted environment.
This type of disruptive legal technology helps law firms learn how to prioritize their data and stay ahead of the market — and improve the customer experience along the way.
3. Delve into Data
If a law firm employs disruptive technology without a way to track their investment, the firm can ultimately be left in the dark. That's why digital transformation initiatives for law firms must include ways to access analytics on client development, marketing initiatives, and administrative tasks such as billing and collections.
With cloud-based integrations in place, firms are able to quickly surmise and prioritize. Law firm data, from the number of clients to billable hours to which client hasn't paid their bill, is at your fingertips with cloud-based CRM systems, which can automate billing and send out SMS reminders, saving time on administrative tasks.
Firm leaders can also track the types of clients and cases which ultimately generate the greatest profit, and where these clients originate. For example, the data might suggest that full-page ads in the local newspaper bring in only 10 percent of new clients, but those new clients generate more than 40 percent of firm revenue. It could also show which social media platform brings in the most clients. Armed with this data, the firm can make quick adjustments to their advertising initiatives.
Law firms leveraging CRM-generated data analytics can quickly prioritize business needs and stay ahead of their competition. They know where their most profitable clients come from and can spot upcoming trends, allowing them to quickly branch out and better cultivate growing practice areas.
By adopting cloud-based systems, law firms will not only keep up with the rapidly evolving business and legal worlds, but they will also be able to safely store and access important data, even when they aren't in the office.
4. Retain Top Talent
The New York Times recently reported that automation has replaced nearly 13 percent of lawyers' work in recent years and will continue to do so at a rate of 2.5 percent annually over the course of the next five years. Combined with the fact that competition for law firm positions is fiercer than ever before, employee retention can be a primary focus of today's law firms.
Young lawyers expect to be able to manage their own time and have the freedom to work from anywhere. Cloud-based CRM platforms make that possible, and law firms that use these technologies are best positioned to keep their young lawyers. This has the added benefit of retaining lawyers who understand how to leverage data to get results, thus improving the bottom line and maintaining a competitive edge for future law firm growth.
5. Stay Ahead of the Game
With new threats — from data exposure to natural disasters — increasing every year, law firms would be remiss to reject cloud-based systems for data storage and backup. Because cloud-based systems automatically back up data and make it easily accessible from anywhere, they are critical to a law firm's success in today's world. Whether your firm has a remote work policy or, more seriously, is struck by a natural disaster, lawyers can access client information securely and efficiently through a cloud-based CRM.
By adopting cloud-based systems, law firms will not only keep up with the rapidly evolving business and legal worlds, but they will also be able to safely store and access important data, even when they aren't in the office. More importantly, they will ensure their ability to stay on top of a competitive business arena.