The 2019 Tech Checklist For Legal Practices
If you have a website for your firm, you’re way ahead of your peers. But, unless you have a technology plan in place to improve your productivity, IT security, client communications and cash flow, you’re not ready for what the year will bring.
Here’s what we mean: If you want to practice law in the 21st Century, be competitive and hold on to your license, you need up-to-date technology solutions. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time to check these out. It’s imperative that you make the time. Why? Because 31 states have now adopted ethical rules requiring technological competence for law firms. And the list is growing.
So What Do You Need For A More Efficient, Tech-Competent Law Firm?
This checklist is an excellent place to start. Be sure to ask your IT specialist to help:
- Productivity Software
- PDF Conversion Software
- Document Automation/Document Assembly Software
- Time and Billing/Accounting Software
- Practice Management Software
- E-Discovery Tools
- Digital Dictation
- Virtual Call Service
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Where to start? Just search the term “productivity” in the App Store, and you get 250+ results. There have never been more software applications to help lawyers better manage their time. In addition to practice management software, there’s a huge list of tools you can use to boost your productivity. One of our favorites is Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based online suite that provides access to a wealth of services and software. Office 365 includes online versions of Microsoft Office such as Word, PowerPoint, Skype/Teams, and Excel. But it also provides much more for law practices and organizations.
Office 365 has transformed the way today’s law firms operate. It provides a new level of security, mobility, accessibility, reliability and productivity, and it’s gaining popularity everywhere. You should use Office 365 if you want features that will help you stay competitive in today’s evolving legal marketplace.
PDF Conversion Software
The ABA says that when it comes to what file format to use to store scanned documents, the only format you need to consider is the Portable Document Format (PDF) created by Adobe Systems. Invented by Adobe Systems and perfected over 20 years, PDF is now an open standard for electronic document exchange maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
If you want to review some of the best PDF converters for 2019, check out TechRadar’s article here.
Document Automation/Document Assembly Software
Document automation and assembly solutions are used by law firms everywhere. They use it to drive document drafting efficiency, reduce unrecoverable hours, increase partner profits, and improve client relationships. There are so many legal document management solutions that it can be hard to choose the one that best suits your needs. This is where you must perform your due diligence to review the features for each one. Check out this site to see what others say about some popular document management solutions.
Time and Billing/Accounting Software
As the ABA says, “Time and billing management is a necessary task for all attorneys, regardless of practice specialty and firm size. Time & Billing software organizes time management, budgeting, and client billing. If you or your firm would like to take the guesswork out of your billing and budget preparation, consider investing in this software solution.” They even provide some recommendations for software that you can consider.
Practice Management Software
Just like Time and Billing and Accounting Software, the ABA highly recommends that you invest in a good Practice Management Solution. Practice management software provides a convenient way to manage client and case information, including contacts, calendaring, documents, and other specifics by facilitating automation in law practices. It can be used to share information with other attorneys in your firm and will help prevent having to enter duplicate data in conjunction with billing programs and data processors. Some practice management packages are Web-based, allowing for anytime/anywhere access to their features. Check out some of the Practice Management Solutions that the ABA has reviewed.
As you know, electronic discovery refers to discovery in legal proceedings such as litigation, government investigations, or Freedom of Information Act requests, where the information sought is in electronic format (or ESI). ESI includes, but is not limited to, emails, documents, presentations, databases, voicemail, audio and video files, social media, and web sites. Looking for an e-discovery tool that will work for your firm? Check out these tools that have been reviewed by other law firms.
If you use a dictation system, you know first-hand that dictation can really help to increase your work output. Lawyers have always appreciated how dictation and transcription help to free up time so they can attend to important concerns. Today’s digital dictation systems eliminate issues of the past with broken tapes, poor sound quality, reliability and expense. And, today, we have speech recognition software that does the “typing” for you. Here’s what the ABA says about this and some of the speech recognition software being used by attorneys today.
Virtual Call Service
Legal answering services are popping up everywhere. Heard about “Ruby Receptionists?” This is just one. Just make sure any virtual answering service that you use employs skilled virtual receptionists who know what critical information to gather. Here’s a link to the virtual call services that Lawyerist.com suggests you check out.