As most lawyers know, some cases can end up consuming considerably more time than originally planned. Lawyers can't always foresee the unpredictable twists and turns that can cause both delays and client frustration. But with the benefit of proactive and clear communication — as well as smart, streamlined law firm billing solutions — a law firm can keep everything running smoothly even when a case encounters a sudden snag.
When Cases Take Longer Than Expected
Any number of external factors could prolong a case, whether it involves how amenable the parties are to finding a resolution (or not finding one) or certain strategies that the opposing counsel might use. As the case goes on, clients can become frustrated by the delays and may even question items on an invoice, complicating the billing process. The more time you spend in the administrative weeds, the less time you have available to focus on your clients. Law firms can reduce the likelihood of this problem occurring by communicating early, often, and effectively about how the case is proceeding.
Law firms may not be able to stop cases from encountering delays, but they do have the ability to make their billing and administrative processes more efficient.
How Law Firm Billing Solutions Can Help
To keep delayed cases from impacting your workflow, it's important to have efficient processes in place. Your first order of business is automatically tracking the time devoted to a case. After all, if you're not fully tracking your billable hours, you're not capturing all of your law firm's revenue. Fortunately, today's cloud-based communications tools make this possible by integrating with law firm CRM software such as Clio. Automatic phone call tracking makes it easier to verify call times on mobile devices as well as desktop computers, resulting in more accurate billing and revenue as well as streamlined audit compliance. CRM integration also enables convenient call tagging and note taking, making it easier for lawyers and their colleagues to keep a client's records up to date.
Client communication is another important factor in shepherding cases to completion. The better your law firm is able to proactively keep its clients apprised of how their cases are progressing, whether via regular conference calls or video check-ins that allow for more nuanced communication, the more peace of mind clients will feel knowing your firm is on top of everything — which means they are less likely to call the firm asking for updates or raising questions about a line item on an invoice. Your firm can keep clients up to date with automatic SMS reminders through every step of the case process, for example, even following up with clients who provided incomplete information about the case so that you can more quickly move it to completion.
As Law Technology Today reports, law firms can also automatically send clients SMS reminders about invoices that are either due shortly or past due so that the firm receives timely payments and ensures strong cash flow. Two-way texting via a cloud-based unified communications system allows lawyers to easily communicate with their clients from their desktop or mobile devices, conducting threaded conversations as needed and quickly gathering the information they need to keep a case moving along. Cloud-based communications systems that integrate with law firm CRM platforms also provide better intelligence, which helps the firm's employees quickly and easily answer questions if a client does call with questions regarding a case.
Increased Efficiency to Grow the Business
With efficiencies like these in place, a law firm can ensure higher quality care for its existing clients while drumming up new business, ensuring increased client satisfaction and steady bottom line growth. Satisfied clients are more likely to generate referrals among their networks in turn, garnering new business for the firm.
Boosting workflow efficiencies can also have a positive effect on business development efforts. According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 41 percent of firms surveyed said they would spend even more time looking for clients if they were able to do so. By accelerating the billing process and streamlining administrative processes, your firm can free up time to meet with larger numbers of potential clients. This can lead to increased business, and the lawyers themselves will be more satisfied in their jobs knowing that they're spending their time as productively as possible.
Law firms may not be able to stop cases from encountering delays, but they do have the ability to make their billing and administrative processes more efficient. In doing so, they can ensure that billing proceeds smoothly, cash flow remains healthy, clients are satisfied, and the firm has greater opportunities to bring in new business. In today's increasingly competitive legal landscape, these are all advantages that any law firm will find valuable.
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