By Chris Pucci, CEO at Legal Futures Associate Osprey Approach
When speaking to small law firms, we’re often asked whether case management software is necessary or beneficial when there are fewer than 15 employees. The answer is a resounding yes; we know from many practices we work with that they’re able to realise numerous benefits having invested in legal software as a small business. The software has enabled them to stay agile, efficient, and flexible so they can do more with less and still successfully compete.
We’ve outlined and addressed the most common concerns and observations that we come across when talking to prospective clients to help smaller firms in their journey to adopting case management software.
1: “I don’t feel that our fee income justifies paying for case management software.”
We understand the cashflow concerns of smaller firms; adding another cost to your overheads to improve profitability seems counterintuitive. However, it’s worth considering how much total fee earner time is worth, and whether that time could be put to better use.
Legal software helps free up fee earners’ time to focus on billable hours, so it’s a worthwhile working out how much time is currently spent on the tasks that the software would eliminate. Case management software removes data errors, the time spent manually searching for and reviewing invoices, timesheets, and documents, duplicate data entries, multiple spreadsheets and so much more. Digitising these tasks alone could save several hours of fee earner time across the entire firm each week.
Like any other significant investment in your practice, such as your fee earners, case management software delivers financial benefit to your practice. The software drives efficiencies, helps you stay competitive and ensures business continuity, all resulting in financial returns that outweigh the cost of a software licence fee.
Furthermore, software also provides opportunity, helping law firm identify areas of growth, where to focus resource to win new business, where to save money, how to improve employee satisfaction or how to enhance client service.
If you’re struggling to meet your goals, deliver quality service to customers, manage compliance, or are spending a large amount of your time on repetitive manual admin tasks, it’s time to consider the impact that a case management will have to your firm.
2: “We’re a small team and don’t have the resource to manage the implementation of new software.”
Typically, implementing case management software into a small firm is an easier task than implementing new software into a larger firm, which has multiple departments or branches. You’ll have less data to transfer, processes to switch, and users to train. However, we know change of any kind can be daunting and over-whelming.
To maximise the benefits of your investment, the implementation process requires dedication and resource. The more time spent upfront on implementing the system to meet your needs and learning the software, the more useful the system will be to your firm, because it can only give back what you put into it. However, with a clear project plan and objectives, the migration process can be effectively managed to ensure that your firm feels confident using the system.
3: “I don’t think our team will use case management software.”
Resistance to change is a common issue, particularly among small practices, but it can still be overcome if the firm-wide benefits are fully understood and accepted. Change management is often difficult, but it can be so much easier with good planning and effective communication.
We recently implemented Osprey’s case management software at Brevitts, a small, successful private client practice near Birmingham. Prior to 2017, Brevitts had relied heavily on paper-based, manual processes, and siloed knowledge, to complete tasks. When looking to replace their existing accounting package, they saw the potential in the Osprey solution to help them meet their goal of automating case management – and the firm is already reaping the rewards, as practice manager, Laurence Sutton, explains: –
“As a small firm, it’s been challenging for client-focused individuals to find the time for implementation. We also have a mix of tech-lovers and haters, which is another challenge for adoption. But this was never about buying the software licences and hoping for the best; it’s about a significant investment for our future and about our firm being less reactive, and more proactive. The support that Osprey gives has always been first-class, and we can’t fault the training and assistance. My advice to any small practice like ours would be to ensure you create a clear plan and engage with your staff to maximise buy-in.”
4: “Our processes aren’t complex enough for a case management system.”
Case management software delivers many other benefits to lawyers besides handling complex processes. In fact, it’s the simple, repetitive processes that the software can automate, which will have the biggest impact on your firm.
Similarly, don’t wait for processes to become complex and cumbersome and for the volumes of work to become unmanageable before implementing change. Legal case management software is built to make the everyday management of your cases simpler so you can perform at your best, focus on value-added tasks, and meet your goals with ease.
In the case of Brevitts, Laurence commented: –
“Osprey is central to our successful operational delivery – it’s the first thing that everyone logs in to everyday. We wanted to optimise our entire operation and the software allows us to be agile, progress cases quicker and sharpen our approach. This enables us to focus more time on our staff and clients and help us reach our goals quicker.”
Case management software streamlines your processes and makes firms’ daily workload easier to manage with the resources available; leaving lawyers to do their job and the software to take care of everything else.
5: “We’re not looking to grow our firm, so don’t feel that case management software is right for us.”
Case management software helps law firms, of any size, progress towards and achieve their goals, no matter what they are. Whilst it is a brilliant tool for helping firms effectively scale and grow, it also helps them to make better use of their current resources, improve employee satisfaction, enhance client service, enable remote working, work fewer hours, take the weekend off, and provide quality, cost-effective legal services.
A good case management system helps to reduce firms’ manual administrative workload and implement automation, so you’re freed up to focus on achieving your goals. The software provides firms with the tools to reduce the cost and time in staying compliant, achieve accreditations, meet the requirements of regulations and your Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) applications, improve your clients’ legal experience, enhance employee satisfaction, and much more besides.
Reap the rewards
Investing in case management software, regardless of the size of your firm, provides opportunity, financial gains, and a competitive edge. Embracing legal software to help manage your practice and cases helps towards future-proofing your firm, providing you with business continuity no matter the challenges you’re faced with. It also helps you attract and retain great people, win new business, and build better relationships with clients, whilst providing automation and digitalisation for an efficient and effective operation. It’s not a question of if, but when you should invest in case management software.
Chris Pucci is CEO of Osprey Approach, which provides an all-in-one, cloud-based legal accounting, case and practice management solution to law firms of all sizes. With over 30 years’ experience in the legal software sector, Osprey’s products and services are designed to help make running a profitable, compliant and efficient law firm easier.