Note: The following is an excerpt from a new eBook titled 15 Ideas for Getting a Jump-Start on 2015 which is freely available with registration.
The more practitioners rely on technology to manage their law offices, the more important it is to have a solid understanding of how these systems operate and how they can be used to streamline office operations. Resolve to make this a priority in 2015.
First, you’ll need to review your current systems. Are they working for you? Are those systems/applications working together in a seamless manner?
Take a hard look at all the different technology that you use on a daily basis. Do you store your data in a variety of locations (i.e. local drive, USB, cloud-storage)? Do you scan data directly to your document management system or is it a multi-step process? Are you backing up your data on a regular basis and testing it with periodic restores?Is your master list of clients readily available and does it include all necessary information for conflict checking purposes?
How about your time and billing system; does it integrate with your financial management program? Where do you track appointments, deadlines, and tasks, and does that information sync with all your devices and is it shared among staff? These are just a few of the questions that you should consider.
From a law practice management perspective, a technology audit is essential to ensuring that your systems are operating effectively, thus allowing you to spend more time billing and less on administrative work.
Ideally, you should have a robust law practice management system that brings together client, contact, and matter management; calendaring; time and billing; and document and financial management. An all-in-one system, such as LexisNexis Firm Manager, should include many of the aforementioned components and integrate with other systems. Integrations are key to law office efficiency.
If you use Quickbooks for financial management, for example, you should ensure that your law practice management program can export into Quickbooks. When it comes to document management, your workflow should require the immediate naming of data and then scanning directly into client file folders. Using, for example, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500, you can scan directly to cloud-based storage providers such as Dropbox and Evernote. If you use Dropbox for your client files, you should ensure that Dropbox can integrate with your law practice management program, of course taking care to secure your files, and so on and so forth.
Once you’ve conducted your review, you should have a better understanding of how your systems work and where you need to invest time and resources. Make a list of what is working for you and what is not. Then, prioritize the changes you’d like to make over the course of the year. Work with your IT provider to connect applications and troubleshoot integrations. Empower your staff to develop technology protocols to maintain consistency.
If you start now to streamline your systems, you can look forward to ringing in the next year with a clearer mind and more productive practice.
The complete eBook, with 14 other expert viewpoints, is freely available for download with registration here.
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Heidi S. Alexander, Esq. is a Law Practice Management Advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (MassLOMAP), where she advises lawyers on practice management matters and provides guidance in implementing new law office technologies. She frequently makes presentations to the legal community and contributes to publications on law practice management and technology. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
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