Law firms using multiple tech solutions earn up to $50,000 more / lawyer in revenue, Clio research.
Below is the outline of the 7-step process I use with my clients to transform their practices.
Implementing electronic payments, a client portal, e-intake forms, and a CRM can be life-changing for your firm. How do you make all the tools work together, though? How don’t you drown yourself in unnecessary technical complexity?
Let's dive in...
1. Map out your current processes
Before anything, you should evaluate your current situation. Look at your customer journey: all the steps a new lead goes through. From contacting you to leaving a review after you delivered the service, and beyond. Map out all the tasks you or your staff complete in the process & make sure to break them down into as small of pieces as possible. Instead of saying “write up engagement letter”, put: “find engagement letter template in Google Drive”, “copy template into client folder”, “change variables inside of template”, “send template as PDF”. You can use a tool like Whimsical (link below) for diagrams.
2. Quantify each step
For each step above, put a value on it. How long does it take for your staff to perform each one of those actions? For extra benefit, multiply the time it takes by the hourly rate of the person in charge. This way, you will have a monetary value for each step, and thus potential savings for their automation. For example, 10 mins to draft & send engagement letter * 150$ hourly rate of the paralegal = 25$ / engagement letter.
3. See what you can eliminate or automate
Mark all the steps that still require manual effort. See if you can eliminate them (by changing the business process) or automate them. Don’t worry about the specific tool you will use here, this should be a conceptual exercise. The help of a consultant will be of value here, as you may not know all the possibilities of automation currently on the market. Calculate how much your savings would be if you were to implement this. For example, if you are sending 30 engagement letters per month & you can completely automate that process, that would be 25$ * 30 = 750$ / month saved.
4. Map out your desired process flow
Redraw the new version of your customer journey. This should include all the changes you will make to the business processes and the automation you would like to put in place. Calculate the grand total of your potential savings.
5. Research the tools
Look at the possibilities of the software you already use. Many times you will find that you are not yet using useful features already included in your plan. For the automations that your tools cannot perform, see what’s available on the market. Adjust your plan according to how expensive each tool is and how complex its implementation would be. Don’t limit yourself to legal-specific tools. Sometimes the best software for the job will be more generic. For example, Stripe is #1 for handling payments & subscriptions, while Zoho CRM is stellar for highly-standardized processes. The directory of Zapier, an automation platform (link below), should give you a good idea of how easy it will be to connect to one tool or another. Again, the help of a consultant will come in handy here.
With your new process flow diagrams & the best tools for the job at hand, devise a plan of change management for your firm. You can either have someone in-house implement the project or hire a development agency to help you. At our agency, we price our project based on the value generated for the client, so that you always know you are in the green, but many firms may not do that. The grand total of the potential savings you calculated before should help you define the budget in this case.
As your firm changes and the tools you use evolve, keep going through this process every 6-12 months. Stay on top of the latest innovations in the legal field. There will always be something to improve: either implementing a new SOP (standard operating procedure), making use of a newly released feature in your CRM, or bringing a new tool altogether into the mix.
I hope this process will bring you closer to one of those firms making $50,000 more / lawyer :)
- Clio, Legal Trends for Solo Law Firms, 2021: https://www.clio.com/resources/legal-trends/2021-solo-report/read-online/
- Whimsical diagramming tool: https://whimsical.com
- Zapier apps directory: https://zapier.com/apps