By Gareth Walker, CEO of Legal Futures Associte LEAP
For a law firm, growth and profitability are paramount. Seeing a client base grow and profits increase year on year is the aim. In order to achieve this, it is critical for an organisation to keep sight of the bigger picture so that success can be measured and sustained. However, creating consistent, long-term growth can prove elusive.
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a practice. Many businesses hire more staff to inject life into a stagnating revenue, or repeat what has been successful in the past. While this is a logical approach, business leaders must continue making improvements to continue growing. The only true way to generate long-term growth is through regular introduction of change to create new ways of doing things. This requires establishing and maintaining a culture of innovation, so the whole firm is accustomed to continuous improvement.
Driving innovation with technology
Often the clearest path to innovation for businesses, including law firms, is through regular implementation of new technology in an ongoing cycle. Change gives an organisation the opportunity to re-energise itself and achieve financial growth. The secret to a successful law firm is to remain ever-present during the times of growth and success. To do this, a business must transform processes and introduce change when the company is flourishing, looking ahead and thinking long term.
Introducing innovation to provide longevity to your law firm cannot be a one-off event. Long lasting growth comes from committing to continual improvement over time which becomes part of the business DNA. As both a catalyst and driver of this change, the cloud technology and legal software that a law firm adopts is crucially important.
Driving change with the cloud
Cutting-edge cloud technology partners are known for introducing new functionality within their software that drives change and enable firms to remain technologically relevant. The software’s continual evolution creates organic and repeated cycles of growth, supporting firms to succeed and become increasingly profitable over time.
Software providers have a great responsibility to innovate on a law firm’s behalf. If a technology supplier fails to innovate, then law firms run the risk of stagnation.
Here are five recommendations for law firms to help initiate and maintain business growth.
1. Invest in a single solution
Having multiple databases of information is inefficient, costly and frustrating for a firm, its staff, and probably its clients as well. Cobbling disparate systems together can be inefficient and limit profitability. A platform that will offer features such as workflow control, automated forms and precedents, document management, accounting and billing in one place will provide huge long-term benefits to a firm’s bottom line.
2. Benefit from a document production system
Producing correspondence of all kinds is the ‘stock-in-trade’ of most lawyers. So, the easier, quicker and more accurately it can be produced, the better service a firm will provide and the lower the costs will be. A system that not only offers a wealth of automated legal forms covering common areas of law and updates the forms in line with any law changes, including legal rates and charges, will save any time manually revising these and researching the relevant updates regularly.
3. Utilise cloud technology
The cloud is data that is stored in a different location from where it is accessed. It is used commonly every day, from email to internet banking, and it is an extremely safe and secure technology. It is also a lot more economical than traditional on-premise configurations. Cloud technology removes this burden and gives a business access to the highest quality IT infrastructure – something that is normally beyond the IT budget of most law firms.
Cloud technology also enables staff to work across multiple devices and from any location without the worry of losing work or needing to be bound to a desk. Data is constantly synchronised across devices when connected to the internet. This flexibility helps firms be more productive and can also considerably improve morale of staff by offering a better work/life balance.
4. Speed up time recording and billing
In most firms, accurate recording of time is crucial to financial performance. Historically, the process of recording time accurately has been made difficult through clumsy systems that are not sympathetic to how solicitors work. Firms are losing time because of poor systems that don’t allow users to time record information such as the email sent from a smartphone or the work on a matter that hasn’t been open yet. Software that can simplify time recording will dramatically improve fee-earner efficiency and productivity.
5. Improve client communication
Over the past decade, email has become ubiquitous not only for lawyers but for consumers as well. This means that important documents can often get lost in inboxes. Email is also an unsecure medium for sending confidential documents, so firms run the risk of being hacked or mistakenly sharing sensitive information with the wrong recipients. A document management system that enables secure collaboration on documents with clients or other parties, such as barristers or estate agents, can avoid wasted time and provide complete control of who can access any information at any given time.
Rather than waiting for the crisis of decline to strike before attempting to introduce changes, businesses should embrace continuous innovation and investing in the right technology is a pivotal driver to support this.
This is an abridged article. The full whitepaper from LEAP can be downloaded here: https://leap.co.uk/whitepapers/