After going to law school, it can be discouraging to find yourself more of an office administrator than a lawyer. There's so much administrative work that goes into running a practice, that it can eat up your day in no time. For that reason, the most efficient lawyers turned to law firm automation as an alternative to copying, pasting, and printing for hours every day.
Legal automation is exactly what the name suggests — automating tasks in your law firm with the help of AI. Legal AI is there to give saturated lawyers more time to focus on what matters most in their practice. For most, that means more time to devote to their clients, and engaging potential leads.
Automation itself is hardly new, however, automating your law practice may seem like uncharted territory. Law office automation is in its infancy, so many lawyers may initially resist the idea, dismissing it as unnecessary. However, once lawyers realize how much time they're losing on manual time-draining administrative tasks, the more they'll start to realize the value of turning to automation to free up their time.
8 Signs Your Law Office Could Benefit From Automation
1. You’re Only Spending a Small Portion of Your Day on Billable Work
According to the most recent legal trends report, the average lawyer only spent 2.5 hours of their day on work they could bill for. This is a clear indication that many lawyers are struggling with serious inefficiencies in their law practice.
From answering incoming inquiries to getting back to clients with the status of their case, to scheduling appointments with clients, each of these repetitive tasks are typically non billable and can delay actual casework.
Not only are manual processes harder on your legal team, but they can also try the patience of your clients and leads who eagerly await your response. When you get to a point where you have to choose between serving your paying clients, and responding to an incoming lead, it's a sign that you could benefit from a better system where you don't have to choose between one or the other.
2. Your Online Reviews are Poor
Online reviews play a crucial role in your law firm's credibility since they provide social proof that you're the real deal. 74% of consumers say that a positive online review makes them trust a company as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. Anything less will lead them to turn to another law firm. In addition to increasing your credibility, positive reviews increase your visibility. Google tracks your ratings, and if your average rating is high, you’ll show up in more search results as a top choice for people looking for legal representation in your field.
If you start to notice negative reviews of your firm with a recurring complaint, then it's a red flag you should pay attention to. One of the most common complaints about lawyers is poor communication. The average law firm takes up to three days to get back to a lead’s inquiry, and 30% of law firms don't answer the phone at all. As a lawyer, you know how much goes into running your practice, so it's not hard to believe that it could be challenging to get back to every single incoming call right away.
That's why it's critical to turn to automation to put your responses on autopilot. Personalized and automated responses make your clients feel connected to you every step of the way without you having to do a thing. While nothing replaces the sincerity and value of a direct call under some circumstances, automation is there to remind your clients that you'll be with them shortly.
3. You are Putting in Long Hours
Lawyers have incredibly heavy caseloads, strict deadlines, and clients who expect quality representation and effective client communication. Because of this, lawyers often find themselves putting in over 60 hours a week. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has gone up with the rise in remote working. Despite its many perks, working from home often means their professional life tends to spill over into personal life, upsetting work-life balance.
When overwork leads to burnout, mental health decline often follows. Recent statistics show that legal professionals have some of the highest rates of depression and anxiety. As many as 28% of lawyers say they suffer from depression, often attributed to quality of life changes as a result of overwork. This is an arena where automation can make a real difference, reducing the number of tasks in your day for better work-life balance. The more you can help yourself, the better you can serve your clients.
4. You Don’t Show Up on the First Page of Google
If you don't have a Google business profile yet, then park your dinosaur outside, and step into the modern world please. To expand your law firm, being visible on Google is an absolute requirement. In today's digital world, lawyers are found online, not in the yellow pages. Studies show that 95% of web users never click past the first page of search results, ergo, showing up on the first page should be a key objective for any law firm — that is, unless you don’t yet have a website.
Although there is a lot that goes into your page ranking, one of the most important determining factors is user interaction on your page. The more visitors to your website, the more Google will favor your website as a valuable source. Automation can help you bring more visitors to your website, by sending out automated marketing emails that encourage visitors to take the next steps towards becoming a client. Whether you publish blog content, or invite your leads to schedule a consultation, the idea is to drive more traffic to your webpage with calls to action in your automated marketing emails. The more you can get people to interact, the higher your website will rank in Google Search results.
5. You Feel Torn Between Potential Clients and Paying Clients
From a prospect's perspective, initial response time plays heavily into the decision to hire your firm or not. Fail to respond almost immediately and chances are they're going to call the next law firm in their Google search results. We live in a consumer-driven world in 2022, and people shopping around for a lawyer don't like to have to wait. However, your paying clients shouldn't have to wait either. You've taken them on and have committed to providing quality legal service from start to finish, so making them sit around waiting to get in touch with you isn't the way to build positive rapport.
This tug of war between being attentive to our potential clients while still taking care of your paying clients can run busy lawyers ragged. The smaller your firm, the more difficult it can be to allocate your attention amongst all of your incoming phone calls and emails. You should never have to choose between ignoring one over the other. A steady stream of leads and happy clients is the only way to continue to build your practice. So, automating your responses is the best way to ensure everyone gets the attention they deserve at the same time.
Rather than being forced with the impossible choice between picking up the phone and pre screening a potential client or calling back a paying client, automation ensures that all parties are tended to in a timely manner, from the first phone call to the retainer agreement. When you put your replies on autopilot, no one gets left behind.
6. You’re Not Getting Many Referrals
Client referrals are the lifeblood of the majority of law firms. In fact, 75% of law firm business comes from former clients. If your former clients aren't recommending you to their friends and family, that’s a pretty big indication of a shortcoming in your practice either in your service or efforts of gathering referrals. So if you're failing to capitalize on the kind words from your former clients as a source for new business, you're missing a huge opportunity.
One of the biggest reasons for a low referral rate is failing to stay top of mind for your past clients. Many lawyers make the mistake of thinking they only have to engage and nurture future and active clients. However, continuing to engage former clients long after the matter is a major business opportunity. Automation can help you send out personalized messages, from wishing them a happy birthday to congratulating them on a new baby. By strengthening the bond with your prior clients, you'll significantly increase your referral rate, and in turn, your revenue.
7. You Have a High No-Show Rate
Client no-shows are a big problem for many law firms. Each time a client schedules a consultation and fails to show, you’re forfeiting time and money for a preventable mix-up. Imagine losing half an hour or more every other day unnecessarily as a result of missed appointments. Automation can significantly reduce your no-show rate: when a client schedules an appointment with you, they’ll receive automatic appointment reminders as the date nears. This introduces accountability and visibility on both sides — the clients and yours. No more scheduling mix ups or forgetting important dates. Automation keeps everyone in sync.
8. You’re Unsure of Where New Clients Come From
Marketing should be in every attorney’s repertoire, period. It’s all too common for law firms with a steady stream of clients to get comfortable and never seek to identify their top lead sources until the well starts to run dry. If and when that happens, you’ll be completely in the dark about how and where to replenish your sales pipeline without incurring great costs.
Tracking your leads assures you know what's working and what's not in your marketing at all times. If you're running multiple ads across different platforms, you need to know which one is performing the best. If you have multiple referral sources, you should know instantly which generates the most clients. By tracking your leads, you'll get the answers in real-time. From impressions to click-through rates, analytics will help you pinpoint what leads are doing from point A to point B. Ultimately, you can identify what path people take to become prospective clients of yours and what helps them convert.
How Automation Can Help Lawyers Run Their Practice More Efficiently
Nearly half of law firms fail to get back to their leads within three days. Unfortunately, every second that ticks on the clock is an opportunity for your leads to call a competing law firm. When an interested potential client reaches out to your law firm, automation replies instantly, leaving a positive first impression. Your responses are personalized and tailored to their unique circumstances.
Whether you want to include a bit more information about your law firm or share success stories of similar cases you've won, automation makes it possible to engage from day one. A speedy and personalized response asserts that you're an attentive attorney who values your clients. From their first initial inquiry to their consultation and beyond, automation will continue to engage and inform potential clients. Your instant and prompt reply already gives you an edge over half of your competitors, which will make a significant difference in your conversion rate.
Capturing Client Information
The client intake process is one of the most burdensome and time-draining parts of running a law practice. Like it or not, however, the client intake process is the foundation of your client-attorney relationship. First impressions matter, whether you practice family law or criminal law — an outstanding client intake process will set you apart. In order to set the tone for your clients' journey at your law firm, you can start by collecting their personal details. From their name to the case type, to their contact information, all of this information can be collected and stored virtually (and securely) upon first interaction with a new client.
Automation makes it possible to input your client information directly into your client intake software or case management software. That means no more time lost to data entry moving forward. From that point on your client's contact information and case details are securely stored in one central location, making it easy to access by anyone working on the case from anywhere with an internet connection.
A whopping 14% of invoiced legal work is never paid by clients. While there are varying reasons as to why this happens, it's often a result of law firms failing to follow up. Regardless of what the cause for unpaid invoices is, the end result remains the same — money and time lost for your law firm. Automating your billing can revolutionize and simplify your collection process.
A recent trends report found that nearly half of all legal clients are more likely to hire a lawyer who accepts electronic payments. In a world where people can pay with PayPal, credit card, or even cryptocurrency, clients expect the same amount of flexibility when paying their lawyer. Offering online electronic payments can win you more clients, and ultimately simplify your invoicing.
Automatic follow-ups go out to the people who need to be paid, without you having to go through a list and identify who still owes you. Collection automation gives you total control over your billing, without unpaid invoices slipping through the cracks.
The most efficient firms rely on client intake software to automatically track every single stage of the client journey. There's no need for you to juggle multiple spreadsheets and paper trails, or ask other members of your staff if a certain lead has been followed up with or not. Client intake software makes sure that each client gets nurtured from one stage to the next, thanks to automated customizable tools like legal workflow automation.
You can easily create pipelines and workflows so you can track and evaluate your data in a way that's easy for you to understand. You can see things like who needs to be followed up with next and how your new clients are moving along. Ultimately, you can see their entire journey step-by-step, identifying what sources are working to convert clients and which ones aren't.
Your clients have busy schedules too. Finding an appointment time that works for you and them can often be a challenge. Delaying casework to continue an email chain, or answer the phone while frantically scrolling through your online calendar is counterproductive. Automating your appointment scheduling will eliminate this common bottleneck, and serve as a convenient alternative for both you and your clients. It's as simple as sending a link to your schedule, where your clients can choose an appointment from only a list of available times you want them to see.
Clients will receive an automated appointment reminder, and so will you, ensuring that everyone stays on track.
Automating your marketing means continuously engaging and producing a fresh stream of leads, without having to take time away from your paying clients. Easily build email campaigns with custom triggers that send personalized and relevant messages to the right person at the right time. Audience segmentation software groups your leads and clients into specific groups, sending them different marketing materials based on their unique circumstances and stage of the client journey. So if you’d like to send an email to all clients of a specific practice area, you can.
Lawyers are no strangers to lengthy documentation that can take hours to days to assemble and organize. By using legal document automation, you can shave hours and hours off of your workday, generating everything from retainer agreements to affidavits within a matter of seconds, significantly improving your document management. Custom fields make it easy to merge whatever data you want from your matters and contacts and plug it directly into your PDF and word documents. Not only do you save time, but you reduce the risk of error.
Running Data Reports
Although data is relatively new in the legal world, it's hardly new in the business world. Running automatic reports on your law firm's most important metrics like who your most lucrative clients are, how they're finding you, and which of your staff is most productive, can help you make more informed business decisions.
Set your objectives, and automatic reports will run in the background, continuously keeping you accountable for your progress.
Advantages of Automating Your Law Firm Processes
Whereas manual systems are prone to human error, automation pulls contact information directly from your CRM, allowing you to streamline your operations, and significantly reduce your chances of mistakes. When it comes to your scheduling, you don't have to second guess whether you entered a date or time correctly, since you're relying on software to automatically schedule for you. Automatic appointment reminders mean fewer no-shows and scheduling mix-ups.
Errors don't just cost you and your staff time to make corrections, they waste your client's time as well. Automation means you can set it and forget it, without having to worry about costly errors.
If you can offer your clients a more streamlined and attentive client journey, then it's naturally going to lead to better reviews. However, you can't expect clients to leave reviews unprompted. Programming an automated email to go out after a client case has closed is a great way to remind your clients to share their experience. Most clients are more than willing to take a few minutes to write a review with minor incentive.
A lot of smaller firms don't have the luxury of a front desk staff to get back to leads and clients right away. Yet, response rate has a remarkably large impact on a client's overall experience. Automation ensures that your clients get immediate responses from the very first minute they call your firm until you can call them back personally. You can personalize your automations based on whatever triggers you choose, making each client feel like they're your only client. Automatic routine messages, paired with access to features like a client portal ensure your clients are never sitting around waiting for an update on the status of their case.
Improved Work/Life Balance
The average lawyer works 50 to 60 hours a week. When you consider that the majority of legal industry professionals’ time is spent on administrative tasks, it's no wonder that they are some of the most stressed-out professionals out there. Automation can shave hours of time off of lawyers' work weeks, and allow for a better work-life balance. Regardless of how much you love practicing law, it's still important that you get rest, and make time for your friends and family.
Efficiency goes hand in hand with revenue for any profession, but especially as a lawyer. The faster you can get things done, the more clients you can take on. On top of that, automation eliminates the need for hiring extra staff. Routine tasks can be delegated to automation and give you back time to devote to more revenue-generating work. And when it comes to invoicing, automation can ensure that you get paid for every hour you work, faster.
Improved Client Experience
We live in a world where you can order groceries through an app and receive them within an hour. We can sit down and watch an entire series in one sitting, without having to wait for the next episode a week later. With instant gratification so abundant in our lives, why would anyone expect anything different from their attorney? Automation enhances the client experience, by eliminating bottlenecks that force your clients to wait. On top of a fast initial response, automation keeps your services consistent, and error-free, ultimately creating a memorable and engaging customer experience.
How to Get Started Using Automation
Choose What You Would Like to Automate
If any of the aforementioned challenges ring true for your law firm, the time has come to assess your operational efficiency. Where do you lose the most time in your day, and how do you think automation could help you complete these tasks faster? Start by creating a list of all the things you'd rather not have to do as a lawyer, and using that as a reference when researching legal automation software features. If you're not sure which of your processes and tasks translate to automation, make a mental note. Many programs may seem like a great choice, but in reality, they lack the critical automation tools lawyers require to eliminate the busy work in their practice.
Reporting and Insights
Custom Form Builder
Automated Appointment Scheduling
E-signature for Law Firms
Email Drip Marketing Campaigns
Get to Know What’s Out There
There are new deployments of legal technology emerging every day. Get to know what's out there, and which features you could benefit most from in your firm. Ideally, you want to choose a company that gives you the most amount of features for the best value, with a thorough and customized onboarding that works at your pace.
Develop a Plan
Once you've selected the right software for your firm, your next course of action is to develop an implementation plan. The point of this is to unify your legal team on the choice of software and ensure they’re invested in the onboarding process. If you're switching from one legal software to another take the time to understand how to transition your processes to the new software. Doing so is well worth your time for the promise of peak efficiency and productivity in your firm.
Monitor Your Results
Ultimately, the goal of implementing automation in your law firm is to become more efficient. However, how can you be sure if your tools are improving your efficiency if you don't measure your results? Lawmatics CRM and client intake software comes with built-in law reporting analytics so that you can actively track your firm’s performance, and assess whether you're meeting your objectives. By measuring your progress, you'll see exactly how much time you're saving, and where you have room for improvement.