This is the next post in my series on how attorneys can both increase and keep more of their profits. My last article discussed basic tips for making law firms more efficient. The tips I offered up will help to reduce that profit-depleting, bank account draining, headache causing, and bankruptcy inducing administrative time. Getting your admin time down is crucial to getting the amount of money in your bank account up. In this article I’m going to discuss another important tip for making more of ‘da cash – leveraging technology in your law firm. Here’s the thing about this topic – most firms think they’re leveraging tech but their not. Truly integrating technology into your office can help you look like this:

Man hoarding money

While your competitors are left looking like this:

Man needing help with computers

My hope is that you would prefer to look like the former. Let’s get to it.

Most attorneys fail to properly utilize technology in their practice

I already know what you’re saying. I hear it now – “we use technology in our practice and we have a great setup.” I know you’re saying that because I hear it from every attorney I speak with. Most of them, however, don’t even realize that they’re wasting time, money, and are losing efficiency. Ask your self the following questions:

  1. Have you written a check to an IT person in the last twelve months?
  2. Do you have your own server in your office?
  3. Do you find yourself spending time looking for information (whether it’s a document, a piece of correspondence, a client’s phone number, etc.)?

If you answered “yes” to any of these then you have problems. First, you shouldn’t have to write checks to an IT professional and you shouldn’t suffer the downtime which caused you to have to write the check in the first place. Second, having a server in your office is simply a way to waste money and to ensure unnecessary down time. Finally, and here’s a news flash, you lose money every minute you spend looking for stuff.

Now imagine the following – you do a one-time setup of your various systems at almost no cost. After that, it just works; not outages, no crashes, and no more big checks to a computer professional. You’re then able to access and input information from anywhere, on any device. Oh, by the way, the amount of time you spend looking for stuff is essentially eliminated. If this doesn’t sound like what you have currently then, again, you’re not properly leveraging technology in your practice.

Tips for lawyers who want to make better use of technology

Here are some tips for lawyers who want to make better use of technology and increase profits as a result:

law firms should migrate their software to the cloud

Moving your software to cloud based providers has several benefits. First, it gets rid of downtime; if you have an internet connection then the software will be working. No more crashes. Second, it eliminates having to pay the IT guy every time something goes down or seems to be running slow. Third, it greatly improve efficiency. Let’s look at some suggested software and how it can accomplish these things.

    1. Google Apps – You should be using Google’s office suite for your email, contact management, and calendaring. Imagine inputting a contact’s information into the contact manager and it’s then instantly accessible by anyone in your office, regardless of where they are. The same can be said for documents through Google Drive as well as other information. Also, there are number of third-party solutions for things such as timekeeping, billing, accounting, etc. which work on top of Google Apps. In layperson terms this means that Google’s offering allows for an integrated solution which will meet the overwhelming part of your needs. Here are some articles I’ve written on how to properly setup Google’s services in your practice.
    2. Evernote – How would you like to have an organized and easy to search paperless correspondence file that includes all letters you’ve received as well as emails which you have sent or received? Evernote allows you to easily create this and it can be easily accessed by anyone in your office to whom you give permission. This is also a great tool for creating a paperless pleadings file that is, again, easily organized and easy to search. These links are to articles I’ve written which will help you properly leverage Evernote.

Of course setting these things up is only the first part – you have to actually use them.

lawyers must utilize their software to its full potential

I speak with quite a few lawyers who use Gmail or Google Apps for their email management but they don’t take the time to input contacts in the software’s contact manager. They then spend time later looking for people’s phone numbers. There are many other instances I’ve encountered where attorneys regularly tell me that they know they’re not using a piece of software for everything it can do. Here’s a tip – put systems in place to ensure you actually leverage software. One example would be having a “case opening checklist” which ensures that every new client is input into the contact system, the accounting system, etc. This will ensure that your actually utilizing that good contact software which you already have. You should come up with additional procedures to ensure that your leveraging other software which you own.

You have technology available which will reduce your administrative time – start using it!