In the modern legal industry, providing exceptional service isn’t just about winning for the client. According to the American Bar Association, a big part of maintaining legal competence is understanding relevant technology.
Law firms that operate with outdated software — or worse, no legal technology — not only negatively impact the client experience but sacrifice productivity and profitability.
Whether you’re looking for new technology or considering upgrading your current technology, you’ll need to understand the basics of migrating your data. Read on to find out more about legal practice management software, how to choose the best solution for your firm, and how to make the switch.
Importance of Legal Practice Management Software
The legal industry has historically been slow to innovate, but that was upended during the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses of all types rapidly shifted practices to continue to serve customers, law firms had to develop more modern processes to stay afloat.
The effects of the pandemic still linger three years later. Lawyers are adapting to remote work, and clients in turn desire more technologically sophisticated lawyers and digital solutions like online payments or client portals made available to them.
How to Identify When It’s Time to Adopt New Legal Software
Wondering if it’s time to migrate to new legal software? Here are some signs:
One of the biggest benefits of legal technology is its ability to automate general law firm management processes and workflows. When you have an unmanageable caseload, saving time by automating repetitive tasks, client intake, and billing and invoicing can free time to focus on complex, billable work.
Tasks Falling Through the Cracks
When you’re constantly juggling different tasks, both for the firm and your clients, it’s easy to miss a deadline or correspondence. Legal practice management software helps you track all your tasks and deadlines to ensure you don’t miss the important details when you manage your day.
Client Complaints or Dissatisfaction
According to research from Thomson Reuters, clients want knowledge sharing, timely and relevant advice, and efficient and effective service from their lawyers. These have been concerns long before legal technology, but in an increasingly connected and digital world, delivering that service is often difficult.
Digitally savvy clients care when their lawyers have legal technology since it directly affects the quality of their experience. And, if you’re missing deadlines or the client has to jump through hoops, they’re not getting the experience they want.
Limited Staff Bandwidth
There’s only so much time in a day. If your staff is struggling to complete tasks and falling behind, instead of hiring more people — and taking on more expenses — legal software helps you organize all tasks, automate mundane processes, and access information anytime, anywhere, to get more accomplished in less time.
Types of Practice Management Software
There are two types of practice management software: cloud-based and on-premise software. Cloud-based software utilizes cloud technology to allow you to access and share information from any device with an internet connection — smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Lawyers and staff can work remotely without disrupting their processes.
On-premise software involves physical servers at the office (on-premise), which makes it challenging to support, or shift to, remote work. Lawyers and staff have to work from the office or bring documents home with them to complete their work.
How to Find the Best Legal Practice Management Software
Making the switch to legal practice management software is a great investment in your law firm, but they’re not all created equal. Here’s how you can find the best option for your law firm:
Assess Current Needs and Processes
Every member of the firm, from partners to legal secretaries, has different needs and challenges each day. Consider each staff member when reviewing your current needs and set goals for what you want to accomplish with legal technology.
Prioritize the Features That Matter
Different legal software solutions offer different features. Think about what’s most important to you when making the switch. For example, legal-specific technology will have features that are designed for the common pain points in law firms.
Other features to consider include robust cybersecurity, automation features, project management, and customization features to make the most of the technology.
For example, Bill4Time’s legal time tracking software includes not only features for timekeeping but customization for different billing structures. With legal-specific features to streamline time tracking for lawyers, Bill4Time also simplifies the billing process with automatic timers, invoice templates, built-in online payment processing, and more on one platform.
Migrating to New Practice Management Software
Migrating to a new practice management solution may seem daunting, but a little planning and preparation ensure your migration process is simple and successful.
Assess Current Data
Your data is one of the most important aspects of your legal practice management system. For a successful migration, make sure you know your data sources and where different types of data, like client and case information, are accurately documented.
Decide Which Data Should Be Migrated
Once you know where your data is stored and what types you have, you can decide what needs to be migrated. Along with the compliance or regulatory guidelines for storing legal records, here are some general rules:
- Migrate three years of calendar data
- Import primary client contact information
- Import all matters, closed or not
- Settle up long-term outstanding invoices
- Unbilled time and expenses that won’t be collected shouldn’t be migrated
Clean Your Data
Data migration is a good time for a “fresh start.” Don’t transfer bad data into your new system. Instead, clean your data to remove incorrect, corrupt, poorly formatted, duplicate, or incomplete data before migration.
Plan a Migration Timeline
Your legal technology provider can help you prepare and move your data from your current system to your new one. Set a preferred timeline to ensure the migration works with your schedule and limits business disruption. You should also include time to allow your staff to train and adjust to the new platform.
Ideally, this entire process should take about a week.
The Modern Legal Landscape Demands Modern Processes
Legal practice management software, like Bill4Time, supports lawyers to not only meet client demands but improve the efficiency and profitability of law firms. If your current software doesn’t serve your needs, it may be time to consider migrating to a sophisticated solution that offers modern features to support your firm and improve client satisfaction.