A wide variety of the tasks associated with operating a legal practice lend themselves to automation. Such undertakings include scheduling, client intake, document creation, billing, and collections. Of course, recognizing the benefits and implementing the processes can be two very different things. However, today’s matter management software can make these automations easy to accomplish, saving time and increasing the potential for profitability.
These tips will help you introduce automation to your law firm.
Identify Tasks – The first step in the process is to determine which tasks are most conducive to being automated. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have discussions with the people who will be required to interact with the automation platform. This has the added advantage of giving them an opportunity to be part of the change, rather than feeling as if it is being forced upon them.
Conduct Task Evaluations – When deciding which tasks to automate, key considerations include the amount of time required to accomplish each one manually and the tedium or repetition associated with it. Other important considerations include the time sensitivity associated with the task and the necessity of its completion—regardless of its billability.
Develop Your Plan – Having identified the tasks suitable for automation, the most effective way to proceed is by automating them one by one. This presents you with an opportunity to evaluate your implementation procedures and learn as you go. For this reason, it is also a good idea to start with a relatively benign task rather than an operationally critical one. You’ll want the learning process to happen with something that won’t sink a case (or your firm) if errors are made.
Research the Tools – Once you’ve figured out which tasks you need to automate and have come up with a plan for doing so, the next thing to do is find the best platform for your circumstances. Chief among your priorities in this regard should be your timeline, budget, and ease of use. Among the goals of your automation efforts should be workflow efficiency improvements and matter accuracy increases. Ultimately you’ll want to choose tools that will give you more time to focus on your clients, instead of spending hours and hours managing and conducting repetitive processes.
Strategize the Implementation – It is critical to ensure that everyone in the office who will be required to interact with the solution be given an opportunity to contribute to the development of the implementation plan. Getting buy-in from staff is crucial to the success of the transition. It is also fundamental to the acceptance of the platform. This will also help to ensure the standardization of the process so that there is consistency as the implementation progresses into other areas of the firm.
Review and Revise as Needed – Yes, the whole point of adopting automation is to put it in place and leave it alone. However, as your office evolves and new situations arise, it may be necessary to customize the platform, add new capabilities, or alter your processes. The best way to stay abreast of this is to keep an eye on things to ensure the process is being used to its fullest potential and adapt it as needs arise. Designate a point person among the administrative staff, whose responsibility will be to monitor the performance of the automation tools and be the point of contact when people have ideas (and concerns). Open communication among your admin team, as well as associates in the office who use the system will help you recognize opportunities for improvement and even expansion.
Introducing process automation into your law office can be easily accomplished when you follow the tips presented here. You’ll save time and money, improve your workflows and position your firm to better serve your clients.