Law Firm Operations Are Shifting, Thanks To Technology & Customer Expectations

24 August 2017

Jon Robinson

Law firms are making a shift. They’re operating more like businesses and adopting a client-centric mentality – driven by customer expectations and structured to attract top talents.

It pays to understand the trends and driving forces behind these changes so you can structure your workflow, processes, and workplace culture to stay at the top of the game.

Here are three trends to keep in mind and what they mean to you.

1. Increased Technology Usage

Many law firms are now cloud-based, leveraging Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products to adapt to modern industry standards and run their practices cost-effectively.

Firms are using:

  • Practice management software for billing, timekeeping, client contact information, and task management
  • Document management systems to run a “paperless” office
  • Client intake software to increase efficiency and conversion rates, including keeping tabs on marketing ROI

Many new tools are available to manage the increasing amount of electronic documentation and communication of firms. Similarly, firms are starting to use artificial intelligence software to evaluate certain aspects of lengthy documents in a matter of minutes.

In addition to lowering cost, reducing error, and giving staff time back to increase productivity, technology is changing workplace culture. 

Using a patchwork of tools and apps is no longer sufficient, especially when they don’t link together. You need a centralized platform so all documents, communications and other activities are in one place, allowing lawyers to work outside of the office and enjoy more flexibility. Increasingly, employees expect employers have the infrastructure in place to support working remotely. More on that in number 3.

2. Change In Customer Expectations

In tandem with the evolution of apps and websites, the digital era has changed how consumers interact with businesses and their expectations on how services are delivered.

For instance, the ubiquity of e-commerce platforms that allow consumers enhanced transparency into the status of their orders is creating the same expectation across professional services too.

When it comes to law firms, clients now expect access to lawyers beyond a phone call, snail mail or email. The most popular advancement being SMS, or text messaging. Along the same lines, clients expect a near-immediate response, regardless of time of day. Chatbots are stepping in to provide 24/7 responses and interaction capabilities, a trend that will be covered in more depth in Part 2 of this series.

Electronic signatures are also changing the game for both clients and firms. No more money spent on postal service, waiting for a contract or other piece of the case in the mail, and no on-site visits or travel unless absolutely necessary.

To manage changing expectations, it’s imperative to  set up a system that makes it easy for a practice’s staff to respond to client inquiries at all times without being physically in the office and to capitalize on incoming inquiries.

3. Remote Work and Mobile Access

As discussed, the adoption of cloud-based collaboration platforms and electronic document management systems allows lawyers to access case files and client data from any location with internet access. That means they can be responsive to clients in a more timely manner, as well as take advantage of working from a variety of locations, a convenience both employers and employees are enjoying. 

Employers are reducing overhead and operating cost since they don’t have to maintain a physical workspace while employees enjoy the flexibility. In fact, a recent survey revealed that remote workers are happier at work and 91% of participants rated themselves to be more productive when working remotely. Not to mention, the remote working trend is making it easier for attorneys who are licensed in multiple jurisdictions to actively work in both locations.

Cloud-based law firms are adopting a dispersed organization structure – they can hire talent from anywhere because they’re no longer constrained by a physical location – making them more competitive. Quite a few virtual firms have seen their revenue growth hover around 40 to 60 percent a year for the last half-decade.

Summary: Stay Competitive While Reducing Cost and Increasing Productivity

Law firms are adopting technology to help them meet the ever-growing demands of client expectations, in line with general business and cross-industry trends .

The most effective way to leverage technology is to implement a unified platform that allows you to handle case management and client interactions all in one place, accessible from anywhere. Such platforms should also allow your team to analyze metrics (e.g. conversion rate, matter value, case quality) so you can continually improve your firm’s processes and grow.

That’s why if you haven’t already, request a demo of Litify today.

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