Integrating Legal Case Management Software in Your Law Firm
Change does not come naturally. But learning to leverage every tool at your disposal is often the difference between an average and exceptional law practice.
Kory Kelly is a tech entrepreneur who helps law firms bring their practice into the digital age. He sat down for an interview and helped us understand what practice management software is, when firms should think about adopting it, and how it can make your firm more profitable.
Kory tackles the following questions in this blog:
- What Can Practice Management Software Do for My Firm?
- What if I’ve Always Done Everything on Paper – What’s the Point of Practice Management Software?
- What Are the Conditions Where I Don’t Need Practice Management Software?
- How Do I Shop for Practice Management Software?
- What Are Integrations and Why Are They Important?
- How Does Practice Management Software Help Scalability?
- How Does Practice Management Software Help Profitability?
What Can Practice Management Software Do for My Firm?
Practice management software is the digital backbone of the modern law firm. It protects your firm from malpractice risks, automates client communications, tracks billable hours, streamlines pipeline review processes, and can potentially even reduce Professional Liability Insurance premiums.
From a profitability perspective, integrating practice management software into your tech stack is one of the most powerful purchases you can make.
What if I’ve Always Done Everything on Paper – What’s the Point of Practice Management Software?
All industries are digitizing to improve collaboration, efficiency, and risk avoidance. And we’re seeing the same thing in Law.
The features and benefits of practice management software are clear. However, understanding the consequences of not evolving with the times is often less clear. If you choose to ignore what is becoming the industry standard practice, then you are by default choosing to:
- Spend more money on malpractice insurance.
- Experience a higher incidence of expensive mistakes and malpractice claims.
- Waste your team's time on repetitive tasks.
- Increase headcount as your firm scales.
You can choose to keep managing your practice with pen and paper. But the cost of that choice will almost certainly be higher than the price of the software. Additionally, with the regulatory changes Arizona and other states are making, failure to innovate your business model will probably cost you your firm.
What Are the Conditions Where I Don’t Need Practice Management Software?
If you’re a solo practitioner who’s within ten years of retirement, you probably can get away without making the move to digital practice management. Alternately, if you specialize in white-glove service and you only see a few high-value clients, maybe you don't need a case management tool.
But, if you have any intention of growing your firm, you should be using practice management software. These tools allow you to skip years of hard-earned domain expertise. Software companies have templatized decades of process knowledge. Deciding not to capitalize on modern software would be like choosing to reinvent the wheel for no reason.
How Do I Shop for Practice Management Software?
Step one is to do your homework. Look at the well-known names like Clio or Practice Panther as well as AOP-specific software. Look at each option from a business operations perspective and carefully list out the major functions your firm needs to digitize. Run demos with some of the options that fit your firm's specialty. It’s important to make the right choice for your firm because moving from one tool to another is a time-consuming and expensive process.
When applicable, AOP-specific software is often the best fit for your firm. For example, bankruptcy lawyers have a tool that’s perfectly tailored to their specialty. There’s no reason for them to use something like Clio because they have a tool that’s purpose-built for their business model.
If you don’t find something designed for your specific AOP, that’s okay. The industry leans toward Clio for good reason. It has by far the most integrations. As firms grow and learn to make more advanced use of their practice management tool, integrations become increasingly important.
What Are Integrations and Why Are They Important?
Integrations are additional add-ons that you can make to existing tools.
For example, Clio has an entire marketplace of extra bells and whistles that can add on additional functionality. Some of them are free and some have a nominal cost.
Automated document drafting is a great example. It’s not something Clio does out of the box. But you can go to Clio's marketplace and search “document drafting software” and add that feature onto your Clio instance.
Having a strong suite of integrations is almost as important as the base platform’s features. The integrations you install automatically communicate with your practice management software. That means you don’t end up having to jump from app to app – everything seamlessly runs on one platform. It gives you the ability to completely customize the software to how your firm operates.
How Does Practice Management Software Help Scalability?
As you automate and outsource tasks to your practice management software, you distill the value your staff brings to the table.
You’ve hired smart people. There’s no reason they should be spending time sending emails, calendar invites, and reminders that can be handled by software. When you take these repetitive tasks off your staff’s plate, you give them the chance to double down on work that creates real value for your firm and your clients.
Practice management software lets your paralegals scale their activity. One staff member can go from processing three documents a day to 20 documents a day. That kind of efficiency will allow you to take on more clients without needing to hire more staff.
How Does Practice Management Software Help Profitability?
Practice management tools will improve your firm’s profitability in three main ways.
- Efficiency. The number of man-hours spent onboarding and communicating with clients can go way down without reducing the value of the work your team is doing. The less time you spend on repetitive tasks the higher your profit margin goes.
- Scalability. Quality team members are expensive resources. Giving your staff the tools they need to cover more clients means you get to spend less on headcount.
- Risk-reduction. Malpractice insurance premiums and deductibles can be a huge expense. Practice management software reduces that expense by making sure you’re protected from the simple mistakes that often generate malpractice suits.
You can run a successful firm without practice management software. But you’d be denying yourself access to the biggest force multiplier available to today’s law firms.
As measures like Arizona’s new legislation take effect, and outside businesses disrupt the legal industry, it’s more important than ever for lawyers to leverage the latest technology.
Daniels-Head Insurance Agency (DHIA) seeks thoughts and insights from a variety of individuals and organizations in the industry. The guest content on this blog represents the individual opinion of the author and not that of DHIA. Nor is it the opinion of DHIA’s underwriters and business partners. Neither DHIA nor DHIA’s business partners are recommending, endorsing, or sponsoring any companies, or third parties mentioned in this blog.