Making an investment is straightforward. You put money into acquiring something that you hope will generate income or appreciate in value over time.
For example, take buying a home. A homebuyer may put substantial financing into their purchase—whether it’s repainting, putting in new appliances, or adding a patio—in the hopes of increasing its market value. The more that you improve the house, the greater your chances of getting a solid return on your initial investment.
The same philosophy holds true for your law firm. Only here the core investment is in your staff.
These are the people who make your firm run: the more you invest in them, the more you’ll get back. This “return” may come in the form of increased sales and revenue. It could be in greater productivity, in more inspired brainstorming sessions, in getting a wider-ranging, more lucrative client base. It could be that your law firm is considered a great place to work, and so attracts top talent. Dividends on your employee investment will be plentiful.
One way to improve conditions for your staff and increase your firm’s sophistication is to invest in best-in-class technology. You can make your lawyers’ jobs more efficient, with less time devoted to drudgery. When you free your staff from unrewarding tasks, they’ll have more time to achieve higher-end objectives, like improving client relationships.
Tech investments: Transforming legal work
By investing in new legal technology, particularly in software that employs artificial intelligence (AI) processes, a law firm empowers its employees. One primary benefit is to vastly reduce the amount of “grunt work” that lawyers and clerks have had to do for decades.
Using AI technology, clerks and associates no longer spend time on repetitive, time-consuming tasks, such as manually sorting through documents for due diligence. Having up-to-date technology at your firm’s fingertips makes work more rewarding for junior attorneys. Their productivity could exponentially improve. They’ll have more time to add value to client relationships, in the hopes of making partner. The odds of them staying with your firm for the long haul should increase.
Technology aids lawyers in a wide range of tasks, including:
Task management. Automating such tasks as reconciling client accounts, scheduling and running meetings, verifying expenses and making incidental purchases (from office supplies to new computers) reduces employee tedium and workloads. There’s a strong possibility of greatly cutting down on errors as well.
Document management. So much of a lawyer’s time is spent in analyzing and organizing documents. Due diligence, in particular, can be burdensome as well as frustrating. Given deadlines, lawyers may have to cut corners on their document review while still spending an exhausting month going through papers. AI processes radically change this. Document scanning and systemization are now done in minutes. Lawyers can make multiple, in-depth summaries of a document haul, and in a fraction of the time that it used to take.
Greater value for your clients
Providing state-of-the-art technology to your law firm also benefits clients. Your staff will employ faster and more secure communications, and offer greater transparency. Processes that once entailed contacting multiple departments and required weeks of emails are now handled in a much more streamlined manner.
For instance, investing in a client management software enables your attorneys to access a centralized, well-organized database of information about each client, from contact information to the client’s history with your firm. Using such software, a lawyer can keep track of impending deadlines. They will know when a client was last contacted, what was discussed, and what the client’s next goals are: information that’s essential to maintain a strong client relationship.
A good counterpart is a project management software. Attorneys may use this technology to manage an individual client’s account on a specific task and/or handle multiple clients if it’s a complex case that involves a variety of parties. Here’s where greater transparency comes into play: a client can log on and check the status of the project. They’ll see which lawyers are assigned to each task, the estimated time that it will take to complete various obligations, and how the project is faring overall.
Invest in your law firm with HighQ
Using an LPM (legal project management) software like HighQ will give you greater efficiency in both client and project management – which can result in greater levels of client income. By combining automated workflows, document automation and secure collaboration, HighQ reduces the need for a firm’s employees to spend time on unbillable tasks, thus increasing firm revenue.
A heightened ability to easily share information, both within a law firm and with clients, can be revelatory. As Mark Salamon, Director of Innovation, Client Solutions at Jackson Lewis P.C., says of HighQ, “it’s so easy to share information on iSheets, which you just can’t do in a file-based only extranet platform.”
A Jackson Lewis practice group with hundreds of clients didn’t like the user experience of their previous file-sharing system. So they had a template tailored to their specific needs, which included a landing page displaying key client information in innovative forms. The firm mandated that their lawyers and professional staff should be able to add clients and tweak features themselves, rather than needing an IT team to do it for them. In just a few months, 200 client sites were set up from this template on a completely “self-serve” basis by lawyers and staff.
Jackson Lewis also uses HighQ to create sophisticated client sites that work more like applications—the client enters information, which automatically generates an action or a workflow. For Jackson Lewis clients, these sites have performed “way beyond their expectations. Since then, we’ve been doing much more with the document automation piece, such as creating solutions to generate numerous agreements,” Salamon says.
Paying off with employee productivity
Investing in such technology also enables a firm’s employees to work more efficiently, leading to a more solid work/life balance.
After all, a lawyer who isn’t spending their weekends going through a thousand documents for a client’s merger is a happier, more productive lawyer. Further, it’s a lawyer with the time to pore through HighQ’s findings and look for potentially lucrative patterns or find red flags buried in a contract or agreement that could threaten the deal. Even a junior lawyer will have a much more detailed and nuanced grasp of a client’s business, which the client will appreciate.
The end result is an increasingly sophisticated firm, one with a reputation among its peers and its clients as hub of secure communication, great transparency, and innovations in everything from workflow to project management. Most of all, with a reputation for a high-quality staff, who are empowered, freed from unremunerative work, and add value to the firm across the board.
When investing in technology means investing in your staff, the payouts can be substantial.