‘Life Hacks’ for Lawyers – 5 Steps to Improving Your Day

‘Life Hacks’ for Lawyers – 5 Steps to Improving Your Day

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‘Life hacks’ are everywhere – helping people become more productive and efficient, whatever their walk of life. We’ve put together a few ‘life hacks’ for lawyers, helping to make each day better than the last.

Lawyers know that the legal industry is changing. As clients become more tech-savvy and time conscious, they expect their lawyers to change with them. ‘Standing still’ is the new ‘falling behind’. 

But how do you, as a modern lawyer, manage that change and adapt your practice?

One of the key ways to change is to understand data around your industry, and then find ways to improve inefficiencies and lost revenue opportunities. Did you know that lawyers spend up to 30% of billable time doing costly admin activities and that the inefficiencies of a paper-based system are costing many lawyers up to 66% in additional revenue opportunities?

‘Life hacks’ are simple solutions to common problems – and one of the best ‘life hacks’ for lawyers is the use of an online practice management system. We’ve detailed below some of the ways in which a practice management system can be used to ‘life hack’ many of the inefficiencies and therefore lost revenue opportunities that lawyers face every day.

1) Automate your administrative tasks. Most lawyers have core documents that they use for multiple clients. Using templates within a practice management system, these documents will be generated in seconds. Think of the hours currently spent adding individual client details into documents – and then think of how much additional billing time would be available if practice management automation was used.

2) Record time whilst you work. Real-time time recording doesn’t just cut down on time spent filling in spreadsheets at the end of the week or month. More accurate data enables you to zoom in on inefficiencies and use your time in more valuable ways.

3) Assign clear tasks. In many area of law, the cases follow consistent processes. Setting up workflows which clearly assign the tasks to individuals along the process can reduce the amount of non-billable time associated with a case. Internal meeting time will be reduced as discussions will focus around case issues, rather than logistics and status updates. Colleagues will also be able to reduce the non-billable time involved in collaborating on cases.

4) Attach all emails to your case file. Most lawyers file case documents together. However, emails remain siloed and information gets lost. This can lead to confusion, delays and inefficiencies. When the whole case team can follow the dialogue with the client, work flows more smoothly and the team becomes more efficient.

5) Bill within minutes, not days. One study found American lawyers spent 2.3 hours a day on billable work, but only collected 1.6 hours’ worth of revenue. Delayed billing can contribute to this, as clients’ memories fade quickly. Delayed bills are more likely to be questioned or challenged, and clients’ circumstances could have changed, making them less able to pay. The ability to bill instantly has a positive effect on cashflow – collections will come in more quickly, and the amount collected may even increase.

A few simple steps can help modern lawyers to work quicker, understand their data and collaborate better with colleagues and clients. If you have any questions about how any of these features could benefit your business, please send us an email at [email protected], or request a demo.

Should I Be Thinking About Office 365?

Should I Be Thinking About Office 365?

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For most lawyers, Microsoft’s Word, Outlook and other products are familiar parts of their everyday life. Should they follow the growing cloud software movement, and consider adopting Office 365?

When you open up a document, or start a spreadsheet, you probably don’t think too much about the software underpinning your task.

However, not all document management suites are created equal. For partners who are looking to help their legal team become more efficient, the Microsoft Office 365 suite can be a great place to start.

 

What Are the Advantages?

  • Flexibility – an Office 365 licence can be downloaded on up to five devices at any time. This allows you to have your products on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and mobile. (You even get free mobile apps). If you replace one of these devices, you can continue on your new device with no issues. Standard Office subscriptions are tied to one device, so a new computer would mean a new Office purchase of the whole Office suite.

Collaboration – have you ever wasted time trying to align different versions of the same document via email? With Office 365’s SharePoint, multiple people can edit a document simultaneously. This means all changes are immediately incorporated into the master version.

You can also share documents with individuals outside the organisation, such as clients, barristers or trial attorneys . The owner of the document can control who has access to edit the document. This ensures that only authorised people can make changes.

Much more than just documents – an Office 365 E3 plan comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Planner, Skype and Access.

This allows you to do so much more than just creating Word and PowerPoint documents. You can communicate via Teams, plan workloads using Planner, store your documents in OneDrive or SharePoint and communicate with clients and colleagues via Skype. Office 365 can support communication on a number of levels.

Your Office 365 account can improve internal collaboration through digital communication. This means larger organisations can eliminate the need for other tools such as Slack or Asana.

Security – moving to the cloud can be seen as risky, but not with Microsoft. They are the most certified data centre provider in the world and offer enterprise-grade data security to all users. This is a great advantage for SMEs, who would be unlikely to afford the same level of protection on an in-house server.

Some of the key security features include: data encryption both at rest and in transit, email encryption, multi-factor authentication, administrative access controls, 24/7 threat management & security monitoring and built in antivirus and anti spam.

Up to date software – with Office 365, software updates happen automatically, so you always have the most recent version. This firstly is a security advantage – as patches for security issues are implemented automatically (reducing the likelihood of a WannaCry-style breach). It also means that you don’t have to spend a large lump sum each time the ‘next version’ of the software comes out.

Pricing – moving from a once-off fee to a continual subscription can be a difficult mindset change. Stable companies who are happy to use one set of core devices for many years may find that they are happy to continue making once-off purchases when required. Companies with growing or changing teams, a desire for flexible working, or an interest in keeping up with modern technology changes, would probably benefit from a subscription licencing model.

 

How do Law Societies feel about Office 365?

The Microsoft Office suite has long been a standard for lawyers, and Law Societies have also embraced the Office 365 platform:

The American Bar Association recommends the Office 365 E3 plan as a minimum standard for law firms, due to its data security and other features. Their Law Practice Division has released a book supporting lawyers transitioning to the Office 365 platform.

The Law Society of Singapore encourages every law firm to adopt a baseline of core technologies including Office 365 (the only office suite they recommend).

The Law Society of England and Wales recently moved to Office 365 themselves as part of an internal digital transformation programme.

Should I Make the Move?

That is entirely up to you! However, we do suggest that amidst the busyness of running a law firm, partners take the time to analyse whether their current packages are working for them. A move to Office 365 could not only save the company money, but improve client and employee satisfaction with more flexibility, better data security and enhanced collaboration.

To find out more about Thread and Office 365, find out more about Thread and Microsoft, or see some of our key features