Are you sending the message that your law firm stands above and apart from the competition?
Everything you do for your law office indicates what you will do for your clients. From the way you brand your firm to the services you offer and the convenience with which you offer them, your firm shows clients and prospects that yours is a top-of-the-line business.
Technology as a competitive advantage
Competitive advantage means that your law firm leads, rather than reacts to changes. If you’re doing what everyone else does, you’re following, not leading the industry. Technology is a primary area of opportunity for your firm to be distinctive, meaningful, and unbeatable.
This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Traditionally, the legal industry has relied heavily on traditional measures and practices that have worked well for decades before. But after the initial challenges, legal technology is already revolutionizing how legal professionals work.
Showing a clear competitive advantage matters not just for potential business opportunities, but also when it comes to hiring. Legal professionals who see that the firm has invested in ways to make their work lives better will be more willing to seek employment with them.
Looking for recommendations for where to start? Here are some essential programs and technology that can help distinguish your firm from the crowd:
Deep dive into current systems
According to legal business software provider Aderant, the average person uses only 15% of the capability available in a conventional word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation software. Since so much of the available functionality in desktop tools found in the standard productivity suite goes unused, the workflow can become more difficult and confusing.
Start by looking at potential functionality within existing tools. Is there something that is available but underutilized?
Online court filing service
In the recent past, one of the most significant changes in legal industry technology has been the widespread adoption of eFiling by the courts and the proliferation of court dockets and document repositories available online. In fact, in the 2018 State of Legal Support report, 51% of professionals like you named eFiling as the most important new legal technology.
Even so, not all courts have started accepting electronically filed documents. Use an online court filing service provider that offers both hand-delivered court filing and court-integrated eFiling to take advantages of the varying technical connections to any court.
Improved document management
There’s no need for a new associate to re-invent the wheel or waste billable time searching for the firms preferred template for a motion or pleading. These templates should be stored in a repository, such as a knowledge management system, for easy access.
Along with this, install a policy for permitting clients to review documents virtually and even sign them digitally, when possible. This convenience factor is easy to market as making the legal troubles of your clients just a bit easier.
Legal professionals love solid, pleasant relationships with their clients. In turn, clients want information from their legal counsel. One technological solution is to create a client portal. Members of the firm can share files, carry on discussions, and organize and manage tasks with their clients.
By maintaining a client portal, your firm shows clients, prospective clients, and potential employees that you have invested in a solution that allows the firm to interact with clients in a secure private online environment.
You can increase productivity and efficiency by adopting a liberal video conferencing policy. Face-to-face interactions don’t always have to be in person. Offer a personable check-in that lets your client see your face while hearing updates, without having to drive down to your office.
This feature also extends your firm’s client base by accommodating those interested in your services, even if they do not live nearby.
Practice management software
A comprehensive solution like practice management software makes life easier for any law firm to manage its expenses. This automated software allows attorneys to manage their client and case information, such as contacts, calendaring, documents, and other specifics seamlessly with a single central program.
Law firms that have implemented tools to improve the internal workflow can be an extremely attractive to prospective employees. Attorneys, paralegals, and legal secretaries all will benefit from a robust eDiscovery software which will make searching, collecting, and tagging electronically stored information much easier. Clients, too, will benefit from quicker more cohesive information related to their case.
What would artificial intelligence look like when applied to your law firm? It might sound out there now but remember: lead rather than react to changes. Could an “AI” application talk to prospects who arrive on your website via a chat feature? Could you pass on some reviewing of legal documents to a savvy AI?
Artificial intelligence is beginning to take shape in applications for attorneys. Your firm can take the lead in your area by exploring AI solutions. Millennials who are using AI in their personal lives will want and anticipate using this technology at their law firms. Also, it’s important to note that Millennials adopt new technology more quickly than any previous generation. This group along with artificial intelligence will transform the law firm.
Speaking of technologic advantages, many firms with a thriving social media platform, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are demonstrating their superiority every day. These sites give firms a chance to reach customers where they are at with the solutions they need most.
Moving forward with technology
Once you have these promising new systems in place, don’t forget to effectively market your competitive advantage over other firms. Call out the maximized efficiencies you’re reaching through this productive approach and via robust technology integration.
These days, many firms will find that clients and prospects are frequently more tech savvy than most legal professionals. This means that once your law firm puts advanced technology in place, the clients will be ready and waiting to use it for easy connections and exceptional service. While other firms are communicating via email and lengthy paper documents, your firm could be installing a client portal and facilitating long-distance communication.
Legal technology is a win-win, creating space in the firm’s internal practices for members to focus more on serving clients or generating revenue, along with improving the image the firm is projecting to the industry and the marketplace.
Have more ideas for differentiating your firm with technology? Share in the comments.