Author: Gloria Qiao, Founder & CEO of Trusli
In our last article, we discussed how law firms can better serve startup clients. Taking a step back, what’s the best way for law firms to adapt to market and technology changes and digitalize law firm management overall? More importantly, are there things that law firms can automate to increase the efficiency of the legal team workflow, increase the bottom line, and ultimately serve the clients better and retain happier associates? Here are some thoughts to inspire law firms to adopt approaches for best law firm management
1. Dedicate resources to marketing
In our last article, we talked about the importance of marketing, website, and SEO. But as law firm managers who are aspiring to become more innovative at a law firm office management, how do you go about it?
The first approach is to have a dedicated marketing team or resources to build a solid website with SEO-optimized content, invest in google search words marketing, hire branding and even SEO experts to assist with branding and SEO optimization, and successfully gain traction and eventually gain more clients through marketing campaigns.
This approach is more suitable for mid to large-sized firms with the resources and capital to invest in such expertise. However, as a solo practitioner or a very small law firm, you may find these tasks prohibitively expensive. In addition, digital marketing is a multi-disciplinary practice, and even if you may understand its importance, you may not even know where to start and how to go about it.
The fact that you don’t feel like you can do it doesn't mean you have to go back to your “word of mouth” old approach to get clients. Here at Trusli, we have a dedicated team of SEO experts, google keyword search, and product marketing to do this professionally. We also have a dedicated budget so that you don’t break the bank doing digital marketing.
2. Track metrics of marketing and client conversion
We recently discussed the importance of taking a data-driven approach and using data analytics at your law firm for better law firm practice management. If you do end up doing the marketing yourself, ensure that you track your metrics to spend your marketing dollars smartly.
For example, if you are running a marketing campaign, you’d better know what channels you are spending on, how much you’re spending, and the marketing to client conversion rate. Not all ads or SEO content are created the same. By tracking metrics such as Click Through Rate and website visitors to actual paying client conversation rate, you can know your final marketing return on investment rate or marketing ROI. In today’s world, where we mature everything using a data-driven approach, you’ve got to measure your metrics to ensure that your marketing budget is spent effectively.
3. Convert leads to actual clients matters digitally and track sales and conversion metrics
Once a marketing target submits an inquiry, you need to track your efforts to convert this inquiry into an actual client. You can deploy methodologies such as a chatting bot, instant 24-7 customer service, follow-up email campaigns, or even dedicated high-touch sales mechanisms to improve conversion rates. Here at Trusli, we have deployed an AI-powered algorithm to evaluate the client and ensure a good attorney-client match. Instead of using manual labor, such as having a legal secretary with a checklist and phone calls, we have labeled thousands of lines of data so our algorithm can detect and correctly match the potential client with the right kind of lawyers with the proper practices. The truth is the sooner you get back to the client, the better their experience is at this stage, and the more likely they will eventually retain your firm.
Once converted, we should note and measure the techniques we used to convert this client so that we deploy the right measures going forward more efficiently.
4. Have a client, matter, message, and document management system
Once a potential client is converted to an actual client, the firm should host a cloud database with clients, matters, and their respective documentation, messages, and billing information. This way, we can track the total value of a client: how many of them are repeat clients, and how well they perform as long-term customers in terms of bill payment and referrals, among other metrics.
We can use the same database to send them messages, share documents with them, and link our effort working for them with billing and invoicing. This way, all relevant information about the client and matter resides in the same system, and we can deploy AI effectively.
Here at Trusli, we have developed multiple automation tools. Once a lawyer mentions a client and document name in an email, the algorithm automatically picks out the right document, fills in the relevant fields that the system is already aware of, and asks the lawyer to revise, review, and complete.
5. Have a project management automation system
To optimize law firm practice management, law office managers need to take into consideration the law firm structure, both the law firm organizational structure as well as the software stack. To help with the legal team workflow, Some firms are already using project management systems such as Asana or Monday.com to track their projects and ensure associates don’t drop important matters and deadlines. Here at Trusli, we also envision project management automation tools linked to precedents and calendars. For certain types of deals or litigation matters, it follows a certain set of fixed steps, tasks, and deadlines once the matter kicks off. Our algorithm can pick out the appropriate templates for project management for you based on the nature of the matter, create the to-do list for you, and even link the list to actual dates on a calendar. No more forgotten deadlines. No more scrambling at the last minute to get a document signed. Let the system do it for you.
6. Create attorney billing autonomously and link to invoicing and accounting
Among the lawyers we talked to, one of the biggest pain points is to spend time creating legal billing entries and writing up descriptions.
If your firm has deployed an end-to-end legal practice management system as we describe, we can also automate the law firm billing process. By definition, the algorithm knows which client, matter, agreement, and email you are working on at what time slots because everything happens within the system. The algorithm picks up your activities and creates the entries for you at the end of each day. All you need to do is review to ensure accuracy and made certain adjustments. In the future, we can also sync with other systems such as Zoom to record the time you spend on meetings with clients. This way, no more time is wasted on attorney billing. It’s done for you by the system.
The legal billing should also link to an invoicing, payment, and eventually accounting system, so you don’t spend time tracking down invoices, chasing payments, or doing accounting manually. Ultimately, this will allow you to track the metrics we mentioned above, such as profitability per associate, time spent on billable hours vs. non-billable hours, total value per client/matter, invoice payment speed and rate, etc.
Ultimately, a good legal management system should have three main characteristics: specialized–meaning it’s not an all-fits-all system designed for other practices such as accounting firms, architecting firms, or investment firms, as legal has its unique needs and requirements; integrated–so that you don’t end up with a bunch of broken systems as we described here and no one knows how to connect them and integrate them; and most importantly, easy to install and use–so that the users are delighted to use it to resolve their pain points, as opposed to trying to skip it and resort to their old ways of doing things. Since billable hours at law firms are such a fundamental core to the entire business, how long a lawyer bills a client and how law firms can deploy, follow and automate attorney billing guidelines are of key importance to law firm managers? Having a good attorney billing system will not only save time and headache for the billing attorney, but it will also create transparency and trust with the client, reduce the opacity of legal bills, and ultimately increase both a law firm’s bottom line and the credibility with respect to clients. We will write a separate piece about an attorney billing cheat sheet.
Here at Trusli, our goal is to design a no-code, cloud-based integrated system that fits all your needs. Our system will assist firms, small or large, with a complete set of features that fit their needs. Our team is composed of experienced lawyers and developers, so we know what lawyers want and need, and we know how to build software that our customers can trust. We are offering you a complete set of features in an integrated product offering that will delight you and meet all your needs. Clients will be happy because everything they need to know is kept organized in a neat dashboard. Associates will be happy as they no longer need to spend time doing tedious work such as pulling out templates and billing, and they can focus on lawyering.
Come build with us. We want to help you.