As CEO of the cybersecurity company eWranglers, Steve Zetzer discusses the most cyber-secure mobile devices, password protection options, the limits of cybersecurity risk aversion, and the concept of Cyber Hygiene, among other topics.
Legal tech is a quickly growing field. With so many choices, how do you know which solutions work best for your needs? If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed over the vastness of options, you’re not alone. Here are some of the best legal tech tips from Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management & Technology with the Chicago Bar Association. You can find all of Catherine’s tips here in a webinar or in a downloadable PDF. We’ve selected the tips below because of their ease of implementation. You may find that choosing easy to work with legal tech first will help you make the transition easier for your entire office.
Start by Using a Familiar MS-Office Program: Word!
One of the best legal tech tips out there is to start with something you know: MS-Word. While it’s not something designed just for law office use, you can still use it to make your life easier. You can change autocorrect in Word to add certain words or phrases as you type. Catherine’s presentation and handout uses an excellent example: changing autocorrect to type “Family Medical Leave Act” when you type the acronym. You can find a walk-through for using autocorrect in this way in Catherine’s handout.
Use a Plug-In to Improve Your Legal Documents
Intelligent Editing is a plug-in for Word. With their Legal Checking package, you can define the style rules that should be followed (including terms, capitalization, citations, word choice errors, and checks for consistency in your writing). It’s an easy way for you to get your feet wet with a tool specifically made for the legal industry while using a program you understand.
Bookmark All Tabs in Chrome
If you do a lot of research, you know the pain of having multiple tabs open just to have them disappear if Chrome crashes or your computer stops working. Did you know that you can create a bookmark of all the tabs you have open? You don’t have to do this one by one, either, just right click on any open tab and choose the option that reads “Bookmark all tabs.” If you prefer using the keyboard, that’s Ctrl-Shift-D. Just remember that organization is key when you tend to bookmark a lot of sites!
Simple Email Encryption
A lot of legal tech choices that allow you to communicate with clients, potential clients, and others comes with encrypted email. If you’re not quite ready to switch or you want to keep using your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook email, there’s a simple way for you to protect your email. The program is called Virtru. In addition to encryption, it also allows you revoke sent messages, restrict whether a message may be forwarded, and set emails and files to auto-delete. Virtru also identifies sensitive information and encrypts the message or gives you a warning that the information is in the email.
Online Appointment Setting
Another great legal tech tip that’s simple for you to try is enabling your clients and potential clients to set appointments with your law firm online. Using SetMore, you can have unlimited appointments, unlimited clients, and up to 20 staff members for which you can set and manage appointments. It can be embedded into your website, blog, social media page, or your mobile app. Clients can also reschedule or cancel their appointments.
Use a Mobile VPN
If you’re on the go and use a lot of free wi-fi hotspots, you could be putting your client data, banking data, and personal data at risk. Free hotspots are often unsecured. You can create and use a virtual private network (VPN) to use while you’re on the go. Many of the programs that allow you to do this are extremely cost-efficient. There are even free VPN apps, but they often have ads and run much slower than one you may pay just a few dollars a month to use.
There are a lot more tips in Catherine’s webinar and downloadable PDF! We’ve only chosen some that are quick and easy for you to implement. Make sure that you check out all of her legal tech tips!
A virtual law practice provides more freedom with how you use your time. A virtual law practice enables lawyers to rely on various forms of technology to work out of the comfort of their own space. One of the main highlights of choosing a virtual law practice (aside from the previous mention of having more freedom in how you use your time) is in the increase of productivity. There are fewer interruptions by co-workers. You can control when you schedule calls and meetings. You can choose when and where you conduct business. A chatbot can make virtual law practices even more productive.
What Is a Chatbot?
By definition, a chatbot is a computer program that simulates conversation with human users. Primarily, they’re used through Internet websites. However, there are several chatbots that also work on social media platforms. One example is Facebook. Some chatbots integrate with Facebook messenger and allow people to ask questions. The chatbot will respond with preloaded responses. It reduces the amount of time that potential and current clients wait for a response.
How Using Bots Help Virtual Law Practices
Chatbots aren’t designed to replace lawyers. They’re designed to help lawyers save time while making potential clients feel as if they’re instantly connected to the answers they need. Consider the amount of time you could spend answering questions for someone via email, private messenger, or live chat. Using bots, virtual law practices can answer basic questions such as tenant rights, the divorce process in your state, and even help with client intake by recording answers to intake questions.
Chatbots Don’t Have to Be Complicated
There are two common misconceptions about chatbots and how they will (or won’t) work with any sort of law practice. The first misconception is that this sort of legal tech is meant to get rid of lawyers. That’s simply not true. Chatbots are meant to help lawyers better control their time (and the time of their support staff).
The second misconception is that chatbots are complicated. Chatbots can be as simple as you want it to be. You can start by using one that only gives out office hours (or live chat hours) and contact information. You could use one to screen potential clients or answer basic legal questions that you receive on a regular basis. If you are more technologically adventurous, you have a chatbot take on more prolific tasks. Here are some examples:
- Joshua Browder created DoNotPay, a bot that took on 250,000 traffic ticket cases and won 160,000 of them. It’s believed that since 2014, DoNotPay saved drivers around $4 million in fines. The service also helps travelers get refunds on their flights when the price of a ticket drops. What a great use of legal technology! What could your virtual law practice do to serve the community using bots?
- LawDroid, created by Tom Martin, uses Facebook messenger and can help entrepreneurs incorporate their business without a fee.
- In the UK, Robot Lawyer Lisa helps entrepreneurs develop NDAs for free.
Think about how using bots could specifically save your virtual law practice time. Then, weigh your options!
by Dina Eisenberg
If you do everything in your law practice because you believe that nobody can do it better and others will just waste your time and money, guess what? You are a micromanager, Solo!
It seems funny to say that solo lawyers can also be micromanagers when you don’t have team. Yet, it’s true. Because you refuse to delegate you are vulnerable to making the same mistakes that a small firm lawyer would make when it comes to outsourcing.
Whether you are a solo lawyer or a small firm lawyer, you suffer the same bad results when you micromanage: poor work experiences, lower quality work, stress and burnout. Let’s look at micromanaging a little closer.
What is micromanaging?
Micromanaging is a management style where you have excessive control over every detail and aspect of the project without regard to the impact on others or yourself.
You know exactly what it feels like to be micromanaged if you’ve worked for anyone else for any length of times. It sucks.
Signs that you are a micromanager
You need a truthful mirror to reflect to you things that are true but not necessarily seen by you. That’s the kind of clarity I offer to my private clients.
There are signs that you micromanage that you might not see in yourself. Check this list out. You are a micromanager if you…
- Have a hard time asking for help
- Check in frequently to see if the work is being done/done your way
- Monitor every detail, even the smallest ones
- Believe that no one can produce what you can
- Don’t take advice or suggestions from others
- Make all the decisions involved in the project
- Believe that others will waste time or money
What micromanaging says about you
There are so many jokes and war stories about micromanagers. That’s kinda sad. People see micromanagers as difficult to work with, disrespectful and rude.
While some micromanagers like being characterized as ‘particular’, it really is a bad look, especially if you want to grow your law firm. You tell the world these things when you refuse to delegate effectively…
- You lack trust in yourself
- You lack trust in others
- You fear mistakes
- You fear being judged
- You lack the ability to see talent in others
- You lack emotional intelligence
Harvard Business Review reports that collaboration and soft skills are the key skills to possess if you want to future-proof your business. That seems especially true for lawyers as the profession adjusts to new market conditions and demands from clients for more efficiency.
How do you stop micromanaging?
How do you stop micromanaging?
First, realize that you didn’t develop this habit overnight or for no good reason. You won’t lose it without a fight or over the weekend. It will take consistent attention and effort to reshape your thinking and behaviors. Be patient with yourself.
Second, get a coach. You need guidance and feedback. You can’t properly hear what you sound like so you need a truthful mirror to reflect to you and show you where to change. I’d be happy to help you
Third, practice delegation. Delegate more. Start small. Recognize that you and your help have a shared goal: doing the best work possible.
Fourth, shift your mindset from managing to leading. Managers control things. Leaders inspire action, collaboration, and commitment. Leaders focus on the positive, not the negatives.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity- George Patton
Are you a micromanager? No worries if you are. You can grow out of it and have a happier, less stressful work life with guidance and a little work on your emotional intelligence.
For more information and friendly guidance, connect with Dina Eisenberg at https://OutsourceEasier.com
Can law firm automation really save you time? More importantly, how can law firm automation improve your practice life? Many lawyers are afraid of embracing the automation concept. Yet, automation is already party of the legal industry. Potential clients have more options than ever before when it comes to getting their basic legal needs met. They can choose to use a website that provides state-specific simple legal documents, and many of those sites will allow them to have a lawyer associated with the site complete the form for them.
Automation in the legal industry isn’t about making lawyers obsolete. Law firm automation is about giving lawyers more time to focus on bringing in clients and handling the parts of law that only they can do. Law firm automation is good for clients, too. They get even more value for their money because the basics are completed much faster. Clients won’t feel ignored because you’re busy working on other projects.
Here are 3 law firm automation tips that will save you hours of time in your practice.
Start by Automating Client Documentation
It can take a lot of time to complete, collect, review, and assemble client documentation. In addition to dealing with a mound of paper for each client, you must ensure that you’re creating quality work product. If you’ve ever misplaced (or totally lost) client documentation, you know the fear and dread that can consume you.
Automating client documentation saves you time and helps create quality documents each and every time. Because the process is digital, it makes it more difficult for you (or your support staff) to misplace or lose documents.
For example, consider fee agreements. Even if you have a fee agreement template that you change in Word, you must spend time going through the agreement to change the name, remove unnecessary provisions, add the right provisions, and hope that you remember to do a “Save-As” instead of a hard save. Think about how much time you spend every time you change your fee agreement template. And, if you don’t know, time yourself. However, be careful not to rush through the process because you can end up creating more mistakes, and your time study will be inaccurate.
When the fee agreement becomes a standard part of law firm automation, it’s automatically completed after the client puts their information into your online form. You can choose whether the client will automatically receive a copy of the fee agreement. Using a fill-in-the-blank template that automatically populates from the information reduces the amount of time you spend on something that is non-billable and creates a more accurate document. You can even have your client sign the fee agreement online.
Automated Client Intake Procedures
Client intake is another important procedure, but is comprised of unbillable time. Law firm automation can help you save that time for billable projects. What could you do with the time you currently spend capturing information to get started on a case? Automating client intake also helps your clients. They don’t have to make the trip to your office. They don’t have to take off work. They can complete the intake process in the comfort of their own environment.
The process is fairly simply. The client fills out an online questionnaire. The answers are emailed to you and automatically added to your CRM. You can choose to send the client to a calendar that allows them to choose a date and time to talk with you on the phone. A that time, you can verify accuracy and get any other information you need.
Email is a necessity of law firm life, but it has a way of sucking us in. Even if you create a list of standard responses you can copy and paste to answer questions, it still takes a lot of time. And what about separating out requests, deadlines, newsletters, junk, and assigning firm matters to others? Email can become an all-consuming task.
Automating certain email tasks can save you hours of time each week. Start by setting up email rules and folders that separate your emails as they come in. You can set up rules based on senders and subjects. Create macros for your standard responses. This cuts down on the time it takes for you to handle your email while improving client relationships by providing timely, appropriate responses.
Law Firm Automation Is Your Friend
The time you have limits the amount of money you’re able to make. Lawyers who are better able to manage their time will make more money than those who don’t. Law firm automation can help you save hours of time. You can spend less time on nonbillable projects, make more money, and spend more time with your family.