Law Firms Share Tips for Working Remotely During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced law firms to push the majority of their employees out of the office and into their homes. This fast-spreading health crisis has thrown a wrench in daily operations for nearly every American across the nation. Simply put, life is different, and in many ways, it may never return to the same status quo once this pandemic passes—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Many law firms, and businesses as a whole, are being forced to work remotely, but they are realizing that with the right tools they can still operate efficiently and productively.

Litify spoke with three law firms—HawkLaw, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, and Hornsby Law Group—about how they are adapting to this new reality and why they think this crisis may force the legal industry into 2020 once and for all. Read the highlights from the panel and watch the full conversation below.

Building a Culture of “Acceptance of Change”

HawkLaw, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, and Hornsby Law Group all shared that they are nearly 100% remote right now, with the exception of a few volunteers who are checking physical mail. Panelists all credited Litify’s mobile, cloud-based platform for being able to move their operations remote so quickly.

HawkLaw has undergone a digital transformation over the last few years and was virtually paperless before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Because of this, John Hawkins noted, the move to a remote workforce was “relatively painless.”

Wesley Cagle, Director of Litigation Operations at Daniel Stark, commented that the firm moved to Litify for this very reason—to be able to work remotely. They too have experienced a relatively smooth transition as employees work from home.

Hawkins noted that it’s important to build a “culture of acceptance of change” in your firm, one that encourages trying new tools and ways of doing things. This mindset has particularly helped as his firm works from home.

“The law firms that can digitize the most will be around long after this,” shared Hawkins.

Firms Are Leveraging Multiple Tools

In addition to Litify, we asked panelists to share the programs that have been particularly helpful as they work away from the office. Here’s what they shared:

  • Chatter: Salesforce built-in social network. Relates conversations to specific matters and documents in Litify.
  • Zoom, GoToMeeting, Uber Conference: Video conferencing. Used for internal and external meetings.
  • Calendly: Scheduling application that allows clients to pick a time to be contacted.
  • Microsoft Teams: Communication and collaboration platform within Office 365.
  • LoginTC: Multi-factor authentication for applications outside of Salesforce.
  • Cisco Jabber: Cloud-based phone system. Allows employees to make calls from their cell phones or computers using their business extensions.

For more mobile-friendly tools, check out our list here.

Client-Centric Communication Is Even More Important

Now that in-person client meetings are off the table, law firms are considering more channels for external communication.

Though HawkLaw and Daniel Stark offer video conferencing for client meetings, they said that communication should always revolve around clients’ preferences. While that could be Zoom, it could also be a phone call, email, text, FaceTime, or even WhatsApp.

And during this time of unprecedented uncertainty and stress, it’s also important that law firms communicate when it’s good for the clients. Hornsby Law Group uses the scheduling application Calendly which allows clients to select the time they would like to be contacted.

Helping the Most Vulnerable

Going even further than client-centric communication, panelists shared how they are caring for their most vulnerable clients.

Daniel Stark has instructed employees to be particularly sensitive and understanding when interacting with clients and to always reassure them that the firm is continuing to work on their case. They are also supporting the local community at this time by organizing blood drives.

HawkLaw is also putting the community above profits. They’ve sent care packages to vulnerable clients and are running a new commercial that directs viewers to HawkLawCares.com, a website featuring free COVID-19 resources.

Increasing Employee Morale 

COVID-19 has touched everyone by upending routines and creating a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Employees may be juggling childcare with work, have sick loved ones, or at the very least are worried about vulnerable family, friends or their own health. 

John Hawkins said that employers can do their part by maintaining structure and stability on their teams—essentially controlling what they can control. 

He expects staff to show up on time to virtual meetings, like they would in the office, and appear professional on camera. He asks that fears and qualms are put aside before they log in to work so that everyone in the firm can focus on helping their clients. “Clients don’t want to see you fall apart,” Hawkins noted.

And when all else fails, a funny meme is always appreciated. Nimesh Patil, Salesforce Administrator at Hornsby Law, shared that his colleagues aren’t above sharing a funny post throughout the day to keep the mood up.

Crisis Shows the Need for Industry-Wide Change

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on just how antiquated some legal processes are.

Panelists noted that there is still too great a reliance on wet signatures (rather than e-signature), particularly for healthcare-related requests. And insurance departments are still bent on sending physical checks. Not only does this impede remote work, but it increases the likelihood of fraud.

Some courts are using video for hearings—a change that panelists hope will only accelerate after the crisis. But change is still surprisingly slow.

Hawkins shared that if there is anything good to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, he hopes it will “bring the legal industry into 2020.”

Have Questions About Working Remotely? 

If you have questions about tools you can leverage to help you work remotely effectively, or would like to know some best practices for becoming a digital-first law firm, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to talk with you.

Tools For A Remote Workforce

The world is shifting, and more business is being done outside the confines of a traditional office. The legal industry has been slow to adopt a work-from-home mentality, but as technology continues to revolutionize business possibilities, companies are faced with decisions on how they operate in both the short-term and long-term. 

Law firms are highly collaborative and depend on multiple departments to efficiently run and carry out casework, which can seem daunting to replicate in a remote work environment. It requires a variety of tools and applications specifically designed for areas such as productivity, marketing, communication, billing, and more. Is your firm equipped to make the jump to a remote workforce when necessary? 

Here’s our list of the top mobile apps and software for lawyers and legal professionals that will change the way you do business today, tomorrow, and forever.

Legal Research & eDiscovery

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For access to tens of thousands of legal terms on the go, there’s nothing better than Black’s Law Dictionary. And, in the internet age, even Black’s has an app.

Price: In-App Purchasing

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Attorneys can now listen to continuing legal education (CLE) programming on their iPad and iPhone.

Price: Free

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Fastcase is the leading next-generation legal research service that puts a comprehensive national law library and powerful searching, sorting, and data visualization tools at your fingertips

Price: Free

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With the Immigration app, users can easily navigate to desired subsections of the INA, CFR, and Practice Manuals with a few clicks.

Price: Free

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LawStack offers free downloads of CFR, USC, State Statutes, and Rules and a paid plan that provides access to state codes and Code of Federal Regulations.

Price: Free for basic version, $9.99 per upgrade

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Legal Dictionary by Farlex enables users to search over 50,000 legal terms, cases, and laws for free.

Price: $0.00 – upgrade to ad free for $0.99

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Conduct legal research on your mobile device with Lexis Advance.

Price: Free

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Oyez provides all the information available on the Oyez website plus the Justia Lawyer Directory & Annotated US Constitution in a conveniently package form for mobile users

Price: Free

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Westlaw, by Thomson Reuters, is the most awarded legal research app.

Price: Free

Billing & Payment

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Helping businesses with their top travel and expense challenges.

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The perfect expense management system for personal and business use. 

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iTimekeep makes it quick and easy for timekeepers to dictate or enter their time as tasks are completed from anywhere, using any device and at any time. The more contemporaneous your time entry, the more accurate your billing, forecasting and revenue generation.

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With the Quickbooks app you can create invoices, manage your expenses and cash flow to view your profit and loss anywhere.

Document Management

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A document solution that works the way you do. Simple to use but smart to the core, Docrio offers easy collaboration capabilities, simple filing, and a simple, elegant user interface.

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This deposition app will free you from ever printing another document exhibit again.

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Office documents snapshot & Smart image doc management High-resolution scan & image editor available. Hand-written annotation & Customizable watermark generation

Price: Basic = Free, Premium = 4.99/month, Business = 6.99/user/month

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Dropbox is the world’s first smart workspace. We bring all your team’s content together while letting you use the tools you love. And we help cut through the clutter, surfacing what matters most.

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GoodReader is an iOS application used to view documents in different formats, including .doc, .pdf, and .xls.

Price: $5.99

Notary & Signatures

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With Notarize, anyone can legally and securely notarize any document in minutes from your iPhone or iPad.

Price: $25 per signature or monthly plans with more options

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Connect with a professional notary on-demand with NotaryCam. 

Price: $25 per signature within US / $79 per signature international

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Easily, track, manage, sign, and send documents.

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Easily electronically sign and send documents with one of the most trusted e-signature companies. 

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Easily sign documents and forms on-the-go.

Price: 3 day free trial, $49.99 annual or $8.99 per month

Marketing

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Buffer is a complete social media management platform that helps business owners and companies manage their social media presence more effectively. Pro=$15/month, Premium=$65/month, Business=$99/month

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Advertise your law firm directly in Google search results through Google Ads. Manage your campaigns through the Google Ads mobile app.

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Keep your clients up-to-date with your firm’s happenings by creating a Facebook page and managing your audience through the Facebook Pages app.

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Advertise your firm directly on Facebook through their mobile application to reach potential clients faster.

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Create an online business listing that can be found directly in Google search results and Google Maps.

Communication

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Message, call, warm transfer, call routing, and call queuing for your team and clients. 

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Track inbound calls using CallRail with full attribution and call analytics.

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Easily record & share, track views, and chat live alongside your video. Free edition offers robust features for screen and video recording.

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Google’s email and calendar service is powered by GSuite, which features document creation, spreadsheets, calendars, and more. 

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More efficient than typing long emails or spending your day in meetings having conversations that don’t need to happen in real-time. Send quick and easy messages using video. 

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Invite everyone you work with to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where you are. Free to Microsoft Office customers.

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The online collaborative whiteboarding platform to bring teams together, anytime, anywhere. 

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Use the Nextiva app to stay connected when you’re away from your office phone, or replace your desk phone altogether when you utilize voice, video, instant messaging, and presence services from your mobile device.

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Outlook’s email and communication services are powered by Microsoft and also includes a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, journal, and web browsing.

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Message, video call, assign tasks and events, and share files with your team and clients with ease.

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Send text messages from your phone that automatically sync with your CRM.

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Slack is gaining popularity amongst law firms that are embracing cross-departmental communication workflows. It’s where the people you need, the information you share, and the tools you use come together to get things done.

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Enterprise video conferencing with real-time messaging and content sharing.

Salesforce

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Litify is built on top of Salesforce’s platform and offers features and tools specifically for legal professional needs. Use the Salesforce mobile app to access Litify in the cloud.

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For administering your Litify org from your mobile device.

Other

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Automatically collect feedback at any point in the customer journey on any channel (email, web, SMS) using the Net Promoter Score (NPS®) framework.

Price: Free for Ask Nicely Customers

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Basecamp is more than just a project management tool — it’s a better way to work.

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The CalendarRules App enables calculation of events based on a trigger; review actual rule text and calculation logic; email the results or add events to your calendar and assign a matter description.

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A quick guide to making and responding to objections in court.

Price: $2.99

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Take notes anywhere. Find information faster. Share ideas with anyone. Meeting notes, web pages, projects, to-do lists—with Evernote as your note-taking app, nothing falls through the cracks.

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Juryinahurry gives users the ability to make a great impression from the start of jury selection by giving instant visual images that details the type of jurors in the case.

Price: $49.99

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LastPass remembers all your passwords across every device. 

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Get access to people powered data, at scale and in real time. Discover insights and new ideas to drive your business forward.

Price: Free for SurveyMonkey Customers

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Time Master is a convenient time tracker used by law firms of all sizes. 

Price: $9.99

How Will Your Firm Adapt to a 21st Century, Remote Workforce?

Equipping your employees with the proper tools to be effective as ever, no matter where they are located, is essential to a 21st Century law firm. The nature of work is changing in the United States, and it is time for the legal industry to change with it.

Adopting some of these tools into your technology stack is a great start, and Litify’s all in one legal management platform can bring them together in one collaborative workspace for your entire firm. Let’s talk.

Tips for Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 has taken a dramatic turn in the last few days, causing every law firm and business to seriously consider remote work. 

Much of lawyers’ day-to-day work includes face-to-face interaction, like court trials, depositions, client meetings, and the like, making this crisis unchartered territory for many in the legal industry.

Above all, it’s important to keep staff and clients safe, while still doing what you can to maintain those relationships. 

In the latest episode of LitiCast, Vice President of Growth Jon Robinson spoke with Chief Revenue Officer Terry Dohrmann and Chief Information and Security Officer Travis Howe about what law firms and organizations should be thinking about right now as they move to a remote work model.

Watch their conversation below.

Remote Work Checklist 

Proper Equipment

Beyond ensuring that employees have laptops, consider other equipment that will set them up for success, including headphones, monitors, and wireless keyboards.

Internet Access

While employees may relish the opportunity to work from anywhere, the local coffee shop may not be the safest or most secure place to do so. Work with your team to ensure that every person has access to fast and secure Wi-Fi while away from the office. This means avoiding public networks as much as possible.

Cloud-Based Software

Working remotely comes with its own unique communication and productivity challenges. Having the right tools can help.

More than half of Litify’s team works remotely full time. Here are the solutions that we’ve found to be particularly helpful:

  • Zoom: Video conferencing. We hold our company-wide meetings (150 employees!) on Zoom. We also use it for client meetings.
  • Slack: Internal instant messaging. Easily share files and updates with colleagues in a searchable, organized manner. You can use separate channels to discuss particular cases or clients.
  • Drift, Loom: Video voicemail. Send a video to a client with a quick update. Much more personal than an email.
  • AssureSign, DocuSign: E-signature. Send and receive signed agreements virtually.
  • LastPass: Password protection. Securely store and share login information for shared accounts.
  • Concur: Expense tracking. Upload e-receipts and get expenses approved, without having to print a thing.

Educate Your Staff About Security

There will sadly always be a few bad actors that try to profit off of crises. Make sure your staff knows what to look out for.

  • Phishing emails: With most companies working remotely, fake emails from executives will be on the rise. Tell your staff to confirm over the phone if they are asked to wire money or email sensitive records. And always double-check the sender’s email address.
  • Scam coronavirus domains: Everyone is searching for answers and resources during this unprecedented time. Make sure you visit reliable and trustworthy sources.
  • Unsecure Wi-Fi: Again, ensure staff has access to secure Wi-Fi. Avoid public Wi-Fi and use a WPA (WiFi-Protected Access) network.

What Should You Do Now?

If you have some time: Do a stress test. Have employees work from home and see where your technology gaps are. 

If employees need to work from home today: Still take the time to properly set up remote access. While these are stressful times, having a breach will only exacerbate problems for your business.

Think about the future: The only better time than yesterday to move to the cloud is today. There will be other crises after COVID-19, like natural disasters. Cloud-based platforms like Litify can help you keep your business stable during any emergency.

Lean on technology experts: Companies like Litify think about virtual work every day. Feel free to ask us for recommendations on tools you can leverage and best practices we’ve seen from other law firms. Let’s talk.

Choosing the Right Case Management System

The case management system is the central nervous system of a law firm. An organized, integrated system can bolster efficiency and productivity. However, a flaw in the case management process can hamper the firm’s success and growth, sometimes with devastating effects.

How do you choose this vital tool for your firm? For starters, look carefully at whether your case management system saves you time, money, and effort. Your management system should help you work smarter and more efficiently to produce better results. The data on your case management system should be secure, accessible, standardized and mobile.

Intake May Be the Most Important Stage of the Case

The wrong case can drain substantial time and resources only to result in inadequate returns on your investment. Conversely, you could turn down a lucrative case because you failed to ask all the right questions and check off all the boxes. It’s no exaggeration to say that intake is the most important stage in the case. It’s essential for any firm to have a tool that helps qualify leads and ensure that valuable cases are not slipping through the cracks.

Track Cases Through a Standardized, Central System

What needs to be done on a case, when and by whom? How can you track discovery, hearings, statutes of limitations, filing deadlines and other crucial dates in a case?  How can you keep each case moving forward? No firm can afford not to have a fine-tuned system for tracking cases.

For firms that handle high-volume, deadline-driven cases, and for larger firms with many attorneys and staff members, the system gets more complicated. All team members should be connected through a central application so each can view the most up-to-date information at the click of a button.

What needs to be done on a case today, next month or by a crucial deadline six months out? Knowing where you stand on a case can help you plan your time better, while making sure you never miss a deadline.

Your Case Management System Should be as Mobile as You Are

In the old days, lawyers had to remain glued to their desks to work a case. Scheduling a hearing or booking an appointment while away from the office usually required several phone calls. This static system creates unnecessary inefficiencies, especially while working after hours or needing to make on-the-spot decisions. Instead of relying on an obsolete and outdated system, firms are switching to cloud-based systems accessible on a laptop, smartphone or tablet through a user-friendly application.

Security Should Never be a Question

Law firms have an important duty to protect clients’ information and a strong incentive to protect trade secrets and work product. A breach of cyber-security can do irreparable harm to your law firm and clients. The security of your data should be one of the first questions you ask of your case management system. It’s imperative to choose a system that is HIIPAA compliant, the gold standard in IT security.

Analytical Reports Help Firms Track Success and Areas for Improvement

Even the best run firms have room for improvement. Do you have the tools you need to analyze your history and identify where inefficiencies lie? It’s important to be able to customize reports about your cases, firm, team members, and financial performance to help you optimize workflow and make positive decisions. The result is improved efficiency, higher profits, and greater success.

No Firm Is Alike – and Neither Is the Right Case Management System

You know what’s best for your business. Your case management system should be designed to fit your specific needs and style, not the other way around. Yet many case management systems use rigid templates that require the firm to adapt to their preferred processes. Being able to customize your platform based on the needs of your business is an essential feature of any tool that your firm uses.