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Your firm already has software for billing, accounting, conflict checking and records management.  The software may even be integrated so that data is entered "only once" and shared between all the functions.  Everything is running smoothly and your firm has never been more efficient than it is right now.  So how can your firm become even more productive?  This article explains one approach you might consider.

Questions, comments or suggestions about this article?  Send an e-mail to Comments@LegalSoftwareSystems.com
 


To make a significant improvement in productivity and efficiency, you'll need to look beyond traditional "task-based" solutions, and focus on solutions that address broader firm-wide processes.  Even though law firms use technology to automate certain tasks, they often still use manual processes that haven't changed in decades. 

For example, consider what's involved when accepting a new client.  Several individual tasks must be completed - conflict checks, new case approvals, data entry for billing and case management setup, printing of labels, etc.  Software programs (and law firms) typically treat each of these tasks as a separate function.  As a result, many firms still use paper-based forms to manage the client intake process as a whole.

Instead of treating each task as an isolated event, tied together by printed forms, paper clips and post-it notes, think about a solution that would automate the entire process.  For example, a paper-based intake sheet could be replaced by an on-line form.  Legal assistants could type new client/matter information on-line.  From there, software could manage the rest of the process electronically.

A process-based solution using on-line forms could automatically perform conflict searches, attach necessary reports, and route everything to various users for comments and approvals.  And when the information is ready to be added to the billing and case management systems, the data could be imported directly from the on-line form without having to retype anything.

Information would flow much more efficiently throughout the firm.  Duplicate data entry would be totally eliminated.  And processes could become virtually paperless. 

Workflow Management software is the technology that makes a process-based solution possible.  And although Workflow Management software is nothing new (it's been used in manufacturing and retail environments for many years), it hasn't been fully utilized in the legal industry. 

Fortunately, that is all changing.  Law firms can now find some amazing Workflow Management systems, designed specifically to handle the unique requirements of the legal profession.  As these systems are becoming more well known, law firms can begin looking at technology solutions in an entirely new way. 

Remember to "think big".  Consider entire processes rather than individual tasks.  Software developers are offering new solutions for law firms that have never been available before.  You will be impressed with what you find, and it's definitely worth some research.
 


The term "workflow" is still loosely defined within the legal industry and will mean different things to different people.  This will change over time as the technology matures.  Until then, make sure to get details by asking software vendors to demonstrate exactly what their workflow solutions provide.  There can be significant differences from one system to the next.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, I'd like to hear from you.  Feel free to drop me an e-mail at: comments@LegalSoftwareSystems.com

Sincerely,

Rob Wardan - President
Legal Software Systems, Inc.
 


About the Author
Rob Wardan is a software developer, technology consultant, President of Legal Software Systems, Inc. and has over twenty years of experience working with hundreds of law firms throughout the United States.

About Legal Software Systems, Inc.
Legal Software Systems, Inc. ("LSS") develops and supports comprehensive management software, designed exclusively for law firms.  Since 1984, LSS has continued to pioneer new and innovative technologies that integrate data and firm processes to help law firms become more efficient, more productive and more profitable.  And for over twenty years, LSS has consistently provided service and support that continues to be the envy of the industry.  For more information, call LSS toll-free at 1-800-331-4122 or visit www.legalsoftwaresystems.com

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