iPad with information flowingWelcome to day 6 of our 30 day challenge. The first five days focused on increasing your caseload and revenue. We looked at how lawyers can leverage free advertising and how law firms can make more money by charging less. If you’re implementing the steps taken in the first five days then you will quickly see business increase. You need an infrastructure in place to handle these new clients. We’ll spend today and tomorrow looking at a few items which can cut down your administrative time substantially. This increases profits by eliminating admin hours you don’t get paid for. It also keeps you from getting overloaded as new cases come flowing in.

Over the rest of this series we’ll continue doing things to grow business while making stops along the way to improve your infrastructure/ability to manage a larger caseload. Keeping up with an explosive growth is tricky and it’s important that you are prepared. I’ve discussed several times already how rapidly my firm grew when I started up. In the first ten months my practice nearly capsized due to growth and if I hadn’t been more devoted than other lawyers (patting myself on the back) to keeping admin time down (admin time kills profits after all) then it wouldn’t have been manageable. The best way to keep admin time down is to improve information flow, even if you’re a one-person operation.

Lawyers can save time and money by ditching their bloated IT infrastructure

I deal with many lawyers who don’t realize how much time they waste and how much money they lose as a result of wasted time. Consider the time your office spends on the following:

  • Inputting information more than once into different software applications.
  • Switching between applications to look up information or to input information from on application to another.

You and/or your staff are losing massive amounts of time to these tasks and you don’t even realize it. That bloated case management software probably isn’t helping all that much either. Let’s be honest, most attorneys utilize little to any of a case management system’s capabilities and they often find such programs cumbersome.

Consider the time you’d save by only having to input data one time and having it automatically shared into all your applications. Next, consider the time and money you’d save if instead of constantly switching between programs, you spent more of your day in only one screen because of tighter app integration. We haven’t even discussed all the time we’re about to save by eliminating the various computer problems that attorneys seem to find normal. In other words, it’s time improve the information flow between your apps and between people in your office.

Google Apps is the search company’s office suite which includes things such as email, calendar, contact managers, etc. The beauty of the service (besides that it’s cheap and eliminates IT problems) is that the many applications that “add on” to it and increase functionality. With the right apps and configurations you’re going to get an IT setup that blows away any case management software and makes your day easier. Today you’re going to sign up for a Google Apps account for your and your employees and, along with the included apps, add “Ginza Contacts” from the Google Apps Market. Let’s consider what you can do with Google Apps with Ginza Contacts added.

  1. You can create shared contact folders easily. Once a contact is entered in the shared folder it is then in the contacts of everyone within your organization. Any edits made by any employee will reflect in everyone’s contacts.
  2. Once that contact is added into a shared folder it is instantly on your smartphone.
  3. The “notes” section in Google Contacts is a great place to store supplemental information (such as witness names and addresses, etc.) for a client. Do you have your clients in your current contact program and a Word document saved in the client’s file with notes on information such as witness contact info? You’ll now be able to keep such information in one place instead of two and won’t be switching between programs as often.
  4. Adding a client to Google Contacts can also automatically add them to accounting software and time keeping/billing software. We’ll discuss this tomorrow.

one hand with a watch and one with a dollar signMigrating to Google Apps and adding Ginza contacts quickly reduces the amount of times data has to be input and reduces the amount of time you spend switching back and forth between computer programs. See the two hands to the left? Time is money!

It’s true that there are other “cloud” options other than Google Apps. I’ve found that these other options don’t offer the tight level of integration between different tasks that you get from Google Apps however. The tight level of integration is going to reduce the massive amount of administrative time that attorneys seem to find normal. You can sign up for Google Apps here. If you’re not the most tech-savvy of people then any decent IT professional can help you migrate to the service and move all your data into it for a small amount.

Day 6 action items for attorneys wishing to increase profits

By now you’re sensing a theme. Eliminate the massive amount of administrative time that destroys a law firm’s profitability. One of the best ways to do this is to streamline the flow of information by getting tighter integration between your various programs, devices, and firm members. It time for the following:

  1. Switch over to Google Apps for your email, calendar, and contact management.
  2. Add Ginza Contacts for improved contact sharing.

Most importantly – Utilize all the features available in these services! Don’t continue to keep information in multiple places (such as Word documents) when these services allow you to keep it in one. The “notes” feature attached to each contact is a “must utilize.”

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to tightly integrate your billing and accounting software into these services.