This is the next post in
manifesto series on why attorneys should be using Google’s G Suite to replace Microsoft Office and other applications. My last post looked at why law firms should use Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office. Making that switch will provide you with word processing and spreadsheet applications which are easier to use (an important consideration given that many lawyers are technologically challenged) and which eliminate the need for an IT guy because the apps will “just work.” In this post I’m going to go beyond applications such as word processing and explain why you should ditch your bloated, efficiency killing, and under-utilized case management software.
Why do I say that attorneys should ditch their case management software? The reason is simple. The fewer applications you can use to accomplish your goals the better. A consolidated technology structure means less time switching between applications which, in turn, increases efficiency. Also, such management programs are an example of something I see attorneys doing all the time – purchasing too much software. Too often law firms will purchase a piece of software which can perform tasks A, B, and C. Lawyers will use that software to perform task A. They will then purchase a second piece of software to perform task B and a third to perform task C. In other words, most attorneys take the approach of “why use one app when I can use three at triple the hassle?” This creates inefficiencies along with the costs associated with paying for extra software. As a result the partners in a law firm wind up looking like this:
While the person who went with fewer apps, to accomplish the same number of tasks, winds up looking like this:
Let’s get to it as to how you can stop paying for case management software and simultaneously make your firm more efficient.
Attorneys should handle task management by integrating Todoist with G Suite
One of the core functions of your case management software is task management. Todoist is an amazing task manager which will work perfectly for law firms and it integrates tightly with G Suite and Gmail. You can quickly and easily manage tasks. Todoist is centered around “projects.” When Joe Client comes in and retains you then simply create a project in Todoist called “Joe Client.” You can then easily create tasks under the projects, assign those tasks to others, and set due dates. Your team members will be able to comment on tasks and set reminders for themselves as necessary. The beauty of this is that you will never leave your email interface to manage everything.
Simply install the Todoist extension for the Chrome browser and you will be able to manage and assign tasks without leaving Gmail. The less time you spend switching screens then the more work you are able to get done. Next, install the “Todoist for Gmail” extension. This will give you some kick ass functionality which you won’t receive from the typical attorney case management app. That functionality is the ability to turn an email into a task or reminder and to link the email to the task. In other words, Joe emails you a request for “XYZ.” You can create a task to have XYZ done by Friday and archive the email (this way you don’t have to see it in your inbox). When you open the task, in Todoist, on Friday you’ll have a link to the email. Simply click it and the email will open back up. As you play with this you’ll find it’s an invaluable tool for practicing attorneys.
The cost of Todoist – $29 per year for a team member. A much better deal than what you’re paying for case management software.
Law Firms can handle billing through G Suite with an application known as “Harvest”
There is a great time keeping application which integrates tightly with G Suite. Harvest can eliminate the need for your case management software’s billing functions. If you’re a solo then this app will only cost you $12 per month. If you have a larger firm then you can sign up five employees for $49 per month (only $10 per employee). This is a lightweight and incredibly easy to use billing app. It also integrates with Quickbooks (the desktop version) and allows you to save invoices straight to Google Drive. Mobile Apps are available for iOS and Android. The real beauty of Harvest is that if you install this Chrome extension then, again, you can handle your billing without ever leaving your email interface. This can be another improvement to your efficiency.
G Suite allows attorneys to create a client portal for sharing documents and to easily go paperless
I speak with quite a few law firms who love the “client portal” in case management apps. This is, again, another example of an attorney signing up a second app at twice the hassle. Creating a client portal in G Suite is stupid simple and it doesn’t cost you a darn thing. Let’s say you want a place for Joe Client to be able to retrieve documents. Go to Joe’s folder inside of your Google Drive. Now simply create a folder called “Joe’s Portal.” Share that folder with Joe through Google Drive’s sharing feature. Now anything you put inside of that folder is viewable and downloadable by Joe; no one can see it except for Joe and Joe can’t see anything besides what’s in that folder. You can also control whether you want Joe to actually be able to edit a document or if you want him to simply be able to view and download it. Using the Google Drive app, which I discussed in my last post, makes this is easy as saving documents onto your computer.
Attorneys will find Google’s G Suite more efficient and cheaper than their case management software
The above setup will cost you a total of $17.50 per month per user ($5 for G suite, $2.50 per month for Todoist, and $10 per month for Harvest). You also get all of the functionality which I’ve described in my previous articles. Also, consider the fact that excellent integration between Evernote and G Suite will allow for attorneys to create a paperless law office. The sum of all this is that, for very little money, Google’s services will give you something that is more efficient and helps you to increase profits in my humble opinion.
Want to make your law firm more efficient? Try the setup described above. If you don’t, then don’t.