Technology trends that increase productivity and collaboration
- Document management software with artificial intelligence capabilities are automating many tedious tasks while freeing up attorneys and paraprofessionals to focus on more important things. Artificial intelligence (AI) has made it into the legal industry. Document management software such as Evisort and Icertis are capable of doing some of the mundane and time-consuming tasks that most legal professionals dread.
AI-driven software, using machine learning, can “learn” to understand the content of documents. The capability to understand the material and sort and file it in the right cloud-based repository reduces the time spent scanning, sorting, and tagging documents by as much as two-thirds. It also reduces the likelihood of human error, meaning much less time spent searching for lost and misplaced documents.
AI-driven software comes with contract templates, the capability to sort documents by a vast array of search phrases, clauses, and dates. The software acts as a risk mitigation tool, as it automatically generates alerts based on approaching deadlines, expiration dates and finding weak language.
Most AI-driven software also comes with workflow management capability, helping you’re your legal team in the loop about what needs to be done next. It automatically creates an audit trail to track when and by whom any changes are made. The software repository is cloud-based, making your documents searchable from any device anywhere. The software also increases productivity by providing access to the documents you need, whenever and wherever you need it.
- Your law firm can benefit from the use of online collaboration tools such as Slack or Asana. These tools allow you to manage projects within the law firm, collaborate with teammates, assign tasks, and instant message to boost collaboration. Using an online collaboration tool makes sharing information, tracking workflow and communication simple while creating a record of who is working on what which removes confusion and duplicating work.
- Invest in analytics software. Analytics in the legal field reveal patterns in data concerning prior litigation. The information that is gained through analytics can help attorneys present the most factual and accurate information to clients about everything from expected settlements to the odds of being successful in a trial. The information provided can help make informed decisions about how to proceed with cases in every area of law. The software can also help an attorney to craft the most successful motions and understand the likelihood of success for any given action.
Establish workflow and chain of command
The legal staff for a law firm often provides support to multiple people. If there is no clear workflow or confusion about prioritizing work, it can lead to confusion about how to prioritize work. Foster clear communication so that each paralegal, legal assistant, and legal secretary knows their role and where to turn if they have questions or concerns.
Having clear expectations and excellent communication helps keep work flowing smoothly. Legal staff who know where to go for clarification or for help in prioritizing work will feel less overwhelmed, and this is good for employee morale. Acknowledge everyone’s contribution to successes and ask for feedback from your legal team about ways to improve communication and efficient workflow.
Utilize your paraprofessionals
All attorneys know the value of paralegals and legal assistants who do their job well. Some attorneys still struggle to trust that these paraprofessionals are capable of valuable independent work. Utilizing paraprofessionals increases productivity in allowing these employees to exercise the capabilities of their training and education.
- Legal research—paralegals spend a significant portion of their education, learning the latest technology, and developing the skills to be excellent at legal research and brief preparation.
- Discovery responses—legal assistants, should be capable of preparing formulaic discovery responses with little oversite.
- Court filing—as electronic filing has become the norm in most courts, handling the filing of documents can be handled by a paraprofessional experienced in the management of such documents.
- Trial preparation—this is a critical area where paraprofessionals can be a great asset. Depending on how much trial preparation your firm handles, you may have one or more paralegals specially trained for trial preparation tasks such as organizing exhibits, creating Powerpoint presentations, and pulling jury instructions.
Know when outsourcing will boost productivity
Outsourcing certain tasks free attorneys time to work on critical legal matters. Understanding where outsourcing can help your law firm is the first step. Smaller law firms find it economical and efficient to outsource many tasks, while larger law firms can cover more work in-house. Some areas to consider for outsourcing:
- Virtual assistants—a virtual assistant can help with any task from document preparation, phone calls, scheduling, and event planning. A virtual assistant might be an excellent addition for junior attorneys or busy paralegals, as well as a simple and economical solution for filling in for legal assistants who are sick or on vacation. Many law firms have a few virtual assistants available to cover for legal staff who are unable to be at work.
- Accounting—keeping a full-time accounting professional might not be in the law firm’s best interest. Rules and regulations that govern accounting and establish best practices change frequently. By outsourcing your accounting to a reputable source, you ensure that the professional handling your accounting needs is staying up-to-date on the latest industry standards.
- IT professionals—few law firms need a full-time IT professional on-site. Outsourcing your IT saves money while still allowing you access to an IT professional anytime it is necessary. Outsourcing your IT needs also helps firms access the latest knowledge and trends in IT service.
- Public relations—in the legal industry, reputation is everything. A public relations specialist can help your firm build and maintain a solid reputation, as well as attract new clients. Public relations specialists can handle media releases, schedule and plan events, and various other tasks that help cultivate a stellar image for a law firm.