It’s no secret that the combination of heavy workloads, pressing deadlines, and an overall lack of time creates a strain on legal professionals and small law firms.
Adopting automation tools can enhance the client intake process, help lawyers bill more, and bolster team collaboration. Read on to learn more about the power of new technologies and why automation is more than simply automating documents.
Why automation is important to law firms
While robots aren’t replacing lawyers soon, artificial intelligence (AI) is already disrupting the legal services industry. AI is already being used to review contracts, conduct legal research, and in the discovery process.
As generative AI technology continues to become more prevalent in our daily lives, the speed and efficiency of our work processes will only increase. By automating workflows, law firms can accomplish more work in less time and free up non-billable hours. This leads to better client service, as lawyers and firm owners can focus on providing strategic advice and advocacy rather than spending time on administrative tasks.
Without automation, it’s not easy to scale a legal practice. As the practice grows, managing the workload may become increasingly challenging without automating some of the more routine tasks.
The key to unlocking talent
While automation is often associated with improving efficiency and reducing costs, it can also be a powerful tool for talent retention. Implementing automation to improve workflows enables companies to create a more engaging and rewarding work environment for their employees. “The risk of not automating your practice will cost you in terms of your ‘busyness,’ happiness, stress, and hours spent at work,” says Hunter.
Hunter emphasises the need for firms to leverage automation, as finding individuals willing to work with obsolete technology or in old-fashioned ways is becoming increasingly more difficult. ‘Digital natives’ - those who have grown up with the presence of digital technology - are now entering the workforce. They expect to be working with technology and systems that enable them to do their best work.
Document scanning technology
In the past, law firms typically identified clients through manual processes, such as asking clients to present or fax physical identification documents like driver’s licences or passports. In-house legal staff would then manually enter the information into a client database.
Today, many law firms are leveraging automation to streamline this process, much to the relief of their clients. Due to the prevalence of consumer data breaches, having clients send their IDs over email is also becoming a thing of the past. Document scanning technology can quickly and accurately extract relevant information from identification documents and automatically populate client profiles, saving you and the client valuable time.
Mobile-friendly automated documents
Smokeball’s document automation provides a library of pre-built legal documents that can be customised to suit the needs of a particular case or client. “This saves lawyers time and reduces the likelihood of errors, as they no longer have to manually create and edit documents from scratch,” says Hunter. This feature also includes e-signature capabilities, allowing clients to sign documents electronically, further streamlining the document management process.
We’ve all encountered the frustration of trying to fill out a form online that isn’t mobile-friendly. It’s a clunky experience, and most of us won’t complete it. Clients who haven’t had a good experience won’t necessarily blame poor technology, and they will blame the firm. Innovative law firms need to be aware of the different processes and pain points along the client journey. Put technology in the hands of your prospective clients with mobile-friendly client intake forms to ensure they have a positive client experience from the get-go.
AutoTime Tracking & E-invoices
Not that long ago, paper invoices were the norm. Consumers today expect to be able to pay invoices electronically and easily. “We need to get invoices out of pdfs and into the digital world,” says Hunter. “No one wants to receive a pdf or Microsoft Word invoice anymore. ”By using automated time tracking to capture information, lawyers no longer have to track their time or create invoices for clients manually. With billing software, lawyers can set up customised billing rates for different clients and projects, making it easier to bill accurately and quickly.
Smokeball tracks time automatically as lawyers work on tasks and generate invoices based on this data. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, reduces the risk of errors, and allows firm owners to create and send invoices to clients in a timely and accurate manner. “Small law firms generally are under-billing. AutoTime helps you not only to bill more accurately but be proud of your work,” says Hunter. “Smokeball clients using AutoTime are billing an average of two hours a day more than they were before.”
Access the full recap
To learn more about how automation tools can enhance you law firms' efficiency, accuracy, resource allocation, reduce costs, and improve client satisfaction, download the full eBook here.