Lawyers have to become interested in technology because it is part of the reality, the reality of their clients and the businesses they are involved in.
The optimistic slogan “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” has reached a new dimension. All over the world, lawyers, jurists, law professors, technology consultants, managers and economists in law firms, attend webinars, participate in online discussion groups, create thematic days via YouTube, organize virtual summits. The most talked about topic? Digital transformation. The future is digital – how to be prepared, what to do?
The opportunity is real but many will retort that they don’t have the budget to put innovation to work. Law firms must change the way they approach this topic. This is a fourth industrial revolution, it will not go away – indeed, it will accelerate. That is why no one can stand still. The winners will be those who are the most creative and agile, operating digital transformation incisively, doing more without megalomaniac budgets.
The focus is to interact with the aspects of the lawyers’ business that will allow the investment made to be profitable as soon as possible. Interacting how? To raise, detect fragility, implement, monitor, evaluate. And then start again with another aspect, another process of the business: today on the time recording process; tomorrow on the centralisation of information; then on drafts and knowledge management. The most talked about the topic? Digital transformation. The future is digital – how to be prepared, what to do?
The focus is to interact with those aspects of the lawyers’ business that will enable the investment made to be profitable as soon as possible. Interacting how? To raise, detect fragility, implement, monitor, evaluate. And then start again with another aspect, another process of the business: today on the time recording process; tomorrow on the centralisation of information; then on drafts and consolidation of knowledge, for example. An incremental approach to a transformation that is no longer an option but an absolute requirement.
Where to start? By a law practice management system that increases productivity, as it affects everything from customer satisfaction to profit. With so many options on the market, which ones really matter? What should be at a lawyer’s fingertips throughout his or her working day?
First, the time tracking. Any successful law firm must have procedures and a tool for recording production times – yes, production times as we find them in a factory, laboratory or distillery. Without effective time control, an office manager cannot conclude how much time is being spent on the tasks performed and this is essential to promote maximum productivity. With the right software, firms do not waste a single minute as lawyers can improve on how to deal with time entry.
Time tracking is critical but if there is no integrated invoicing tool, the productivity of various resources is compromised. With the right software you can define approval flows, issue invoices directly from the fee sheet automatically created by the time entries, perform batch invoicing and/or electronically or schedule the issue of invoices; define collection control strategies and ensure stable treasury.
Productivity goes hand-in-hand with accessibility. Whether in the context of pure mobility or the need for whole teams to work from home, the perfect component to guarantee accessibility easily and quickly is cloud storage, through a reliable service. The right choice is one that makes the lawyer not having to think about where the files and documents he needs right now on his mobile phone are stored. A lawyer doesn’t want to worry about what will he need at the end of the day to perform the task he has in mind. This high level of accessibility contributes to improved productivity levels for all members of an office.
Always on the track of productivity, a good procedural management system should allow the office to start a journey of automation – to be able to identify repetitive tasks and ensure that they are performed with less manual intervention, avoiding errors or forgetting. This is the case when, registering a certain task, the management system displays a documentation request to its user and presents a list of activities to be guaranteed in that context or, at the imminent end of a critical deadline, warns the elements that guarantee redundancy, or automatically fills in the field of the recipient and the subject when writing a letter to a client created within the virtual process.
In the digital age, a system is as good for its tools as for the possibility it gives its users of opening the door to other software options through integration. Gathering information on a single platform or synchronising it with data from other software are essential features that save time and reduce waiting times within a team, between teams and between the organisation and clients, allowing you to breathe an atmosphere of productivity with very little effort.
The ideal is that the adopted system can integrate with platforms such as Microsoft 365, Dropbox or the office website and it is possible to gather in a single place, accessible from any device, all the notes that were taken in a meeting with a certain client, the files that integrate that matter and the scanned documents, meeting calendar and emails exchanged.
The cherry on top of the cake goes to the law firm managers. As productivity and profitability are inseparable, a management system for a law firm must be able to measure, analyse and measure. In essence, diagnose the health of the business in order to plan and define a strategy. Reporting functions are essential and allow leaders to determine where to focus resources and efforts, what are the most profitable areas of activity, how long, on average, it is possible to satisfy the client who has a certain objective.
In the absence of perfect tools, a system that brings together these characteristics will be a good weapon. History has shown us so far that crises arise in waves, so that after a phase of recession, we will always have a phase of growth. Those who can now act strategically and adopt the best weapons will prosper significantly.
One final note: there is no better arm than people. No system survives without people adopting it, and people are always the engine of real change. Lawyers have to become interested in technology because it is part of the reality, the reality of their clients and the businesses they are involved in.
(2020, October 29th). Transformação digital: a 4ª revolução industrial chega aos escritórios de advocacia in https://eco.sapo.pt/opiniao/transformacao-digital-a-4a-revolucao-industrial-chega-aos-escritorios-de-advocacia/