On Tuesday at our inaugural customer summit, Generate, I was pleased to host a session with my colleague Gareth Jones, looking at the use of matter management in the cloud. The session explored specifically how smaller law firms are taking advantage of the cloud to enable them to overcome their biggest challenges and to set themselves apart at a time when firms are having to work harder to serve client demands and do more with fewer resources.
Challenges of small and medium law firms
A recent Thomson Reuters survey ‘Insight into Management and Growth Priorities’ for small and medium law firms highlighted the top five challenges firms are currently facing:
- Attracting new clients
- Serving matters/clients profitably
- Managing WIP and cash flow
- Recruiting legal talent
- Retaining existing clients
For smaller law firms, matter management tools can and are going a long way to addressing these challenges, and, in particular, the challenge of serving matters profitably. Using matter management tools enables firms to increase their efficiency, as well as giving them time back to look at overcoming the rest of their top challenges. Less time spent on the administration of their business can lead to a greater ability to deliver specialist, added value services to clients, increased responsiveness, and additional resource to focus on attracting new clients.
It is therefore no surprise that smaller law firms are increasingly adopting software for productivity gains. Technology is fast becoming a part of their efficiency armoury, with 75% of smaller law firms viewing it as key to their business strategy. For these firms, the focus is on the client and creating competitive advantage by setting themselves apart from the crowd by doing things more effectively, giving their lawyers back time to focus on their clients, both existing and new.
Cloud versus on-premise solutions
Smaller law firms see a number of advantages in cloud-based matter management over on-premise solutions. They value the scalability, flexibility, security, and business continuity offered by cloud-based solutions. The best firms then are clear about what business objective this time saving will deliver, whether it is to enable them to go home early or maintain a flexible practice, or whether it is to free up time for business development to grow their business.
The reduction in IT costs has been a big factor in the adoption of cloud technology for matter management within smaller law firms. With the introduction of SAAS, these firms are now benefitting from implementing time-saving software solutions which were previously the domain of larger firms with greater resources for investment in IT. They can profit from providers’ developing roadmaps and stringent security standards such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2 for often only a monthly license fee, and scale easily as their firms develop. SAAS solutions such as the cloud-based matter management tool Firm Central have been built with smaller law firms in mind. They are simple, easy-to-use systems which aim to make lawyers’ lives easier, fitting seamlessly into solicitors’ existing ways of working rather than asking them to dramatically change these. Firm Central builds upon and integrates with the market-leading technology of Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law and Westlaw products, yet benefits from being a simple, intuitive solution allowing smaller firms to work faster, with more transparency – and without the need for extensive training.
Addressing clients’ changing demands
Smaller law firms employing systematic matter management create competitive advantage delivered from the superior client service and delivery the time freed up allows them to provide. While strong demand in recent years has driven growth, smaller firms are now finding that they are starting to have to work harder and often longer to just stand still. Using a cloud-based matter management solution provides them with the ability to make up for this by increasing their speed of service through streamlined, collaborative, secure technology.
The cloud can help smaller firms to meet increasing client needs for immediacy and transparency. They can offer clients secure anywhere, anytime access to, and updates on, their matters, providing piece of mind. Even the often awkward interaction on billing with a client has become a key differentiator for smaller firms adopting cloud-based matter management tools. With functionality such as time and billing available on Firm Central, firms can now easily show the time spent on a client’s matter, increasing price transparency, creating a positive end-to-end client experience.
Cloud-based matter management can enable firms to set themselves apart at a time when they are working harder, their client’s needs are both increasing and changing, and when there has never been a greater need to increase efficiency to enable firms to focus on delivering their business objectives.
We will be exploring this topic further in an upcoming live webinar ‘How can small law firms use cloud-based matter management to stand out from the crowd?’ This will be taking place on Wednesday 12 July at 13.00. Find out more and sign up today here.