This is the next post in my series on why attorneys should use G Suite over Microsoft Office. My last article looked at why lawyers can save money by switching to G Suite and the “cloud.” The reasons for switching over are simple. First, G Suite gives you a solution which is much simpler to use, and as fully functional, as Office. Given that many legal professionals struggle with technology the “simpler to use” part means a big increase in efficiency. Second, cloud based solutions “just work” meaning no more 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 like this:
I’m willing to bet that the fine fellow in the first photo has less stress than poor ol’ boy in the latter photo. 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 the business version of Gmail, found in G Suite, will give you an option which (again) is 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 or 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.” No more phone calls to the IT guy to deal with email, calendars, or contacts. As long as you have a working internet connection then all those things will function without any issue.
Attorneys should adopt G Suite and use Gmail in place of Outlook
Personally, the cluttered interface in Outlook 2016 gives me a headache. The more time you spend navigating through all that stuff then the less time you spend doing substantive work. In addition to the simpler interface you have a big benefit – improved mobility. When you install Outlook on your computer then you have your local software for your email and it’s on that one machine. When you switch to Gmail you simply login from any web browser and you’re going to get the exact same experience regardless of which computer you’re on. Want to improve your mobile email experience? Simply 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. A point I can’t stress enough, again, is the fact 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. You’ll also say goodbye to things not working like they’re supposed to.
One of the biggest benefits of switching from Outlook to Gmail is the latter’s “Priority Inbox” feature. It’s something I’ve been using for years and it greatly, greatly, greatly (greatly) 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 rather hokey video from Google explaining how the feature works:
I know that Outlook 2016 released a “clutter” feature which attempted to do some of what Priority Inbox does but, to be honest, it sucks when compared to Google’s offering. 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.
Gmail provides a better calendaring option for attorneys than Outlook or case management software offerings
Gmail’s calendaring option is super simple to use – sensing a theme yet? It has all the appointment sharing and scheduling features you need and sharing calendars is much more straightforward than in Outlook. As with Gmail, you can access the exact same calendar interface from any browser and it syncs seamlessly with your phone; add or edit an event on your phone and you’ll automatically see it the next time you check your calendar from a computer and vice versa. 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 will keep popping up until it’s done. This video shows what you can do with reminders and how easy these are to set up:
Another great feature in Google Calendar is the “appointment slots” feature. Do you get tired of trying to coordinate times with clients or with other members of your office? You can set aside the time that you want to make yourself available and other people can quickly schedule the appointment. This video shows how great this feature is (forward the video to about the 2:50 mark):
These super awesome and super simple to use features make Google Calendar a great choice. When you consider the increased simplicity, and reduction in computer problems it can offer, it blows Outlook out of the water in my opinion.
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 which tightly integrates with your email (some benefits of which you’ll see when I discuss replacing your case management software, completely, with G Suite). The less applications you use then 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. They have one piece of software which can perform all three tasks. Instead of utilizing this functionality they pay for a second application to perform task two and a third to perform task three. In other words, attorneys take the approach of “why use only one app when I can use three at triple the cost and aggravation?” This is something I wrote on when I discussed four mistakes which cost law firms money. Given that G Suite has a bad ass calendar app, there’s no need to pay for another one in a “case management” application.
Google Contacts is a better option for attorneys than either Outlook or case management software
I speak with many attorneys who rely on Outlook’s contact management features for managing a firm’s information. Others use the contact feature in their case management app. Well……guess what……Google’s contact manager is perfect for law firms. Simply sign up an app called CoContacts (formerly known as Ginza Contacts) which installs on top of Gmail. This allows you to create shared contact folders which everyone in the firm can see (or you can limit who has access). This means that once someone is added to the contact folder than everyone in the firm will have access to that same contact information. If someone makes an edit to the contact then it will be reflected everywhere. To make matters better, each contact has a “notes section” in it. This means if you open up Client Bob’s contact screen then, in the note section, 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 you start typing their name in Gmail then the email address will automatically populate. These features make this a great option for law firms.
These contacts also sync seamlessly with your mobile device. 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 it “just works.” It’s a way better option than Outlook and makes paying for case management software, for the purposes of contact management, a waste of money.
In my next post I’ll be writing on how to migrate your existing data from Outlook over to G Suite in terms of your email, calendar, contacts, etc.