Legal Tech Column: Effective workflows are critical to law firm success. Here’s how to strengthen them.

Upgrading technology and implementing more advanced systems is not a new priority for firm leaders and their IT teams. New systems help lower risks, costs and often improve client satisfaction, but they should also increase efficiency and productivity.  

One of the best ways to improve efficiency at your law firm is by developing and implementing effective workflows. Workflows streamline and automate repeatable tasks, which creates efficiencies that result in significant time and cost savings. 

There could be a number of reasons your current workflows may be ineffective, including poor communication, manual data entry and unnecessary tasks. These are 5 of the best ways to use technology to develop or improve workflows at your law firm. 

Review current systems 

Start with an analysis of your systems. Ask the team for feedback on existing systems and procedures that can be improved. Look for bottlenecks and pinpoint what role or process is the contributing factor. Bottlenecks can be identified through signs such as continuous errors, long processing times, backlogged work and dissatisfied clients or employees. Next, prioritize updating workflows based on their importance to the overall business strategy as well as the feedback of team members. When it comes to smaller, repetitive or mindless tasks, automate them. For example, to streamline e-mail sorting and responses, you can setup ‘smart labels’ in Gmail or ‘rules’ in Outlook. 

Implement communication tools 

The gateway to improved workflows is optimized communication. Communication tools should create efficient ways for discussing and tracking work in progress. Choose tools that fit the overall strategy of the firm.

Microsoft Teams’ chat function, for example, is helpful for quick conversations and decreases the number of internal emails sent and received. To organize team communications, label chats by matter or topic. Through the bookmark feature, important information can be marked and referenced quickly at a later time.

Implement collaboration tools

It’s vital for law firms to have collaboration capabilities. When reviewing a document with team members, don’t let the back and forth of emails create confusion about document versions, the location of documents or next steps. Use collaboration tools that include file sharing capabilities, which allow lawyers to draft and review documents together in real time. These tools minimize unnecessary correspondence between drafts.  

Collaboration is also imperative for client-attorney relationships and can be the difference between satisfied clients and clients with complaints. 

Unify systems

Technology integration is a key indicator of how well tools can be used to further business goals and create efficiencies. Unifying systems helps reduce double work and downtime between systems. For example, there are document management systems that can easily integrate with email software and optical character recognition solutions. Cloud services are the easiest to update and can be quickly integrated across your entire organization. 

Continuously test and train 

Be sure to document everything digitally. The best workflows are those that are updated to meet current needs and operating procedures. Review workflows annually and hold regular training sessions so all firm members and staff stay up to date on processes. Workflow outlines and procedures should be easily accessible and fully visible to the team. This also involves clearly defining roles and responsibilities for firm members and staff. 

Gulam Zade is CEO and General Counsel of LOGICFORCE.

Reprinted with permission from the 8/23/21 issue of Mid-Market Report. © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

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