Practice Management

2
Dec
2016

Practice Management:

5 ways to modernize your practice

Cat Dismukes
Columbus, OH

​Lawyers and businesses look for better ways to manage their time, bring in more revenue and market to a larger audience. Technology advancements raise the bar in these areas because they allow firms to reach a new level of efficiency. Some firms that run as a virtual office have fully accepted the movement toward an updated view of a traditional law firm. Not only does this allow firm efficiency, but also it grants clients the option to access their legal documents or advice on their own time. Lawyers do not have to completely overhaul their offices into virtual ones, but imbedding these advanced tactics in your own office can help save time, money and sanity in the long run. Follow these five tips and see the difference as your firm becomes more efficient.

1. Get up to speed on technology… in small increments.
Technology is a broad term that is overwhelming if not narrowed down to individual categories. Some of the technological advances used to enhance the workplace are cloud services, online marketing tools and virtual assistants. Break it down, relax and modernize your practice in small increments.

2. Reach for the clouds.
The stereotypical picture of the cloud is this mysterious technology which confounds most people. Where does the information go? How does one control the cloud? Or, the scariest question for some, how does one delete something from the cloud? The cloud is not as mysterious as it may seem.

Cloud services are actually essential to the workplace due to the instant gratification culture that our society has recently fostered. With the cloud, your firm can store all of its documents, emails, invoices, billing information and other items within a secure server that is available anywhere with Internet connection. It allows attorneys to work on cases during flights or at home and allows clients to look over documents at their own time and place as well. This round-the-clock availability increases flexibility for both attorneys and clients. Businesses like Clio provide cloud services, and Ohio State Bar Association members receive this service at a discounted rate.

3. Upgrade from Clippy.
Remember the office assistant that appeared on the bottom of your screen in Microsoft Word during the late 1990s? It was the little paperclip, known as Clippit or Clippy, which gave you tips on how to improve your interaction with Word. Whether he annoyed you or not, Clippy was a form of virtual assistant. Virtual assistants and paralegals can help streamline your work. Using the cloud, you can share documents with assistants or paralegals to keep you from constantly scanning and faxing documents back and forth. A virtual assistant organizes documents within the cloud, schedules appointments and sends emails, turning mundane, nonbillable work into a hassle-free task; you can now focus more on face-to-face client interaction while increasing revenue for yourself and the firm.

Virtual paralegals will save you time and money by working only when needed. You do not have to pay a full-time salary when the extra assistance is deemed unnecessary. They can also help draft standard legal documents to free more time for attorneys—quite the improvement from the old paperclip on your screen.

4. Morph selfies into marketing tactics.
You share photos of your new gourmet creation in the kitchen, update family and friends on your relationship status and create a viewable stream of your inner consciousness all on social media. If you and others you know constantly update and view social media, then that is a perfect platform for businesses to take advantage of. Social media gives businesses a new, personable outlet for marketing campaigns that reach a larger, mostly free, audience. Marketing may not come to mind as having a direct relationship to office efficiency, but it does help businesses gain clients. With the increase of Internet traffic, marketing tactics include online platforms to reach a broader target audience than previous print ad marketing campaigns. This means that businesses use social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs—to connect with potential clients on a daily basis. It is another round-the-clock tactic to enhance a firm. Not only does it bring in new clients, but also it is free if no new staff is required. Your firm will spend the same amount of money on marketing as it did previously while reaching a much wider audience. Start rethinking your selfies, tweets and posts; they may come in handy.

5. Organize your thoughts.
These new technologies save time and money, but the implementation can be more daunting than you anticipate. You could sift through the information to compare and contrast different vendors for each technology service, implement efficient technology usage tactics and acquire technological knowledge from personal research. However, firms can choose to hire a service that holds your hand throughout the entire process. OSBA recently partnered with CuroLegal, which provides virtual services that encompass almost the entirety of office technology, from auditing your firm’s technology to nurturing the well-oiled machine that your firm has become.

The future has arrived.
Do not spend time worrying about how future technology will affect your firm because the future has arrived. Take the necessary steps to streamline your technology use. This new technology is constantly morphing the business world in regards to office efficiency, client reach and round-the-clock connectivity. But how do you know what technology to use or how to implement it into your office routine? Understanding what technology is out there and what can help your firm is fundamental in creating a streamlined office.