Welcome to my next post in my series on why attorneys should use G Suite over Microsoft Office.
My last article looked at why lawyers should switch to G Suite and the “cloud.”
The reasons for switching over are simple:
First, G Suite gives you a much simpler solution to use that’s just as functional as Office.
Given that many legal professionals struggle with technology, the “simpler to use” part means a significant increase in efficiency too.
Second, cloud-based solutions tend to just work, which means many less expensive calls to the IT guy.
Making these changes can help you to look like this:
While the attorneys that continue to use MS Office (and other local software) will continue to look more like this:
I’m willing to bet that the fine fellow in the first photo has less stress than the poor ol’ guy in the latter one.
Let’s help you look like the latter by discussing why you should ditch Outlook and your case management software in favor of Gmail when it comes to handling email, calendaring, and contact management.
The big reasons for making this change are simple.
First, switching over to Gmail’s business version, found in G Suite, will give you an option that’s (again) much simpler to use. Think of how often you look at your current software, and either:
1) Have to wade through options which you don’t need
2) You spend time trying to figure out how to do something.
Gmail’s simplicity does away with those efficiency draining problems.
Second, once set up, Gmail just works without any hassle.
As long as you have a working internet connection, then all of its functions should run just fine.
Adopting G Suite In Place of Outlook & Office
Law firms are behind in the business world when it comes to adopting cloud technology. According to a 2019 ABA survey, cloud usage among lawyers in 2019 only increased by 3% to 58% from the year before.
Personally, the cluttered interface in Outlook gives me a headache. The more time you spend navigating through all that stuff, the less time you spend on substantive work.
In addition to the more straightforward interface, you’ve got another significant benefit – improved mobility. When you install Outlook on your computer, you have your local software for your email, and it’s only on that one machine. So every time you switch machines, you’ve got to install Outlook again.
Now compare this to Gmail; you simply log in from any web browser, and you’re going to get the same experience, regardless of which computer you’re on.
Want to improve your mobile email experience?
Install the Gmail app on your iPhone or Android device, and, again, everything will sync up automatically without you ever doing anything to make it happen. In other words, read an email on one device, and it’s read everywhere. Delete it on one device, and it’s deleted everywhere, all with no additional effort on your end.
Again, a point I can’t stress enough is that setting all this up is super simple, and it gets rid of the need for the IT guy — no matter the size of your office.
And guess what; you’ll also say goodbye to things always not working like they’re supposed to.
One of the biggest benefits you’ll get from switching off Outlook is Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” feature.
It’s a feature I’ve been using for years, and it massively reduces the amount of time it takes me to get through my email.
To put it simply, Priority Inbox makes sure that you get to your most important email first.
Here’s a video from Google explaining how the feature works:
I know that Outlook previously released a “clutter” feature that attempted to do some of what Priority Inbox does but, to be honest, it’s pretty bad. At least when you compare it to what Google has on offer.
Google doesn’t make you spend time sorting what’s “clutter” and what’s not. It does the work for you so you can focus on serving your clients.
Another Gmail Benefit: Better Calendar Features Than Outlook
Gmail’s calendaring option is super simple to use. (Sensing a theme yet?)
It has all the appointment sharing and scheduling features you need. Plus, sharing calendars is much more straightforward too.
As with Gmail, you can access the exact same calendar interface from any browser, and it syncs seamlessly across devices, including your phone.
The biggest (and coolest) thing that will help you out when you switch from Outlook to Google Calendar is the “reminder” feature. It’s a great way to quickly place a “to do” on your calendar that’ll keep popping up until it’s done. To get an idea of how easy and useful the reminders are, check out this video:
Another great feature in Google Calendar is the “appointment slots” feature.
Ever get tired of trying to coordinate times with clients or other members of the office?
Instead of going through all of that hassle, you can set aside the time you want to make yourself available. Then, other people can quickly set up appointments accordingly.
When you add a new entry, simply click the “appointment slots” option, and other people can pencil themselves into your schedule during your set times.
Google’s “smart calendaring” features can also be invaluable. Take a look at this video to learn more about them:
Honestly, when you look at the simplicity and ease of use that Google Calendar brings to the table, it blows Outlook out of the water.
Why do I say you should also use Google Calendar over the one in your case management software? Simple. Less is more.
Why not have one calendar that tightly integrates with your email (some benefits you’ll see when I discuss replacing your case management software with G Suite).
The fewer applications you use, the simpler your life will be. This simplicity yields increased profits.
Too often, I see attorneys who need to perform tasks one, two, and three. And instead of using one program that can handle all three, they pay for a separate program to perform each task.
This is a problem that I discussed in my article on four mistakes that cost law firms money.
But to put it shortly, it seems that far too many law firms would prefer to spend three times the money and patience by using three apps simultaneously instead of, you know, one app that does it all.
Given that G Suite has a dynamic calendar app, there’s no need to pay for another one in a “case management” application.
Google Contacts: A Better Option Than Outlook or Case Management Software
I speak with many attorneys who rely on Outlook’s contact management features for managing their firm’s information.
Others use the contact feature in their case management app.
Well, I’ve got something to tell you:
Google’s contact manager is perfect for law firms.
You only need to sign up for CoContacts (formerly known as Ginza Contacts), which installs on top of Gmail.
This allows you to create shared contact folders that everyone in the firm can see (or you can limit who has access).
This means that everyone in the firm will have access to the same contact information once someone is added to the contact folder.
If someone makes an edit to the contact, it’ll get reflected everywhere.
To make things even better, each contact has a notes section in it.
This means if you open up Client Bob’s contact screen, you can notate things such as the contact information for relevant witnesses, opposing counsel, etc.
Want to email a client? If they’re in your Google Contacts and start typing their name in Gmail, the email address will automatically populate. These features make it an ultra-convenient option for law firms.
The contacts also sync seamlessly with your mobile devices.
Just as with your email and calendar, make a change on your desktop, and it’s automatically reflected on your mobile (and vice versa).
So, in other words, just enter the information into Google Contacts, and you’re guaranteed to have it with you on the go.
This is seamless, highly efficient, easy to use, and as before — it just works. It’s a much better option than Outlook and makes paying for case management software a waste of money.
In my next post, I’ll be writing on how to start using Google Keep in your law office.
And if you haven’t already, check out our guide on SEO to learn more about how you can increase revenue.