Successful law firms know which practice areas of their law firm are profitable and which are not. In turn, they focus their resources on growing those practice areas where they are growing or adding practice areas that they anticipate will produce the most gross revenue. Because they tract and measure how much they spend on each marketing or firm development resource for each practice area they know what their return on investment is per practice area and for the entire firm by source.
Successful law firms know these things because they keep track of all their operations and expenses. It would seem absurd for a law firm owner to expect success if they had no idea what was and wasn’t working. However, this is exactly what most law firms do all the time. Because attorneys see themselves first and foremost as professionals, they often don’t think about the services they provide clients and their professional abilities as a business. This is where most of them make their most crucial and fundamental mistake. They overlook the importance of keeping track of their operations – including tracking and measuring their spending and results and calculating their ROI for each of the sources of their marketing and firm development efforts.
No one expects attorneys to suddenly become masters of the spreadsheet or to fastidiously pore over every facet of their operations. All attorneys need to do is to implement a case management system in their law firm. Of course, it’s not as easy as picking a system and telling your employees to figure it out.
Case management systems are an investment. Some are costly, others aren’t, but all of them require at least a basic understanding of how they work and how to integrate them into your firm’s workflow. You might be intimidated by the idea of using a case management system at your law firm, but we urge to you overcome your reservations.
These systems can have a dramatic effect on your firm’s bottom line, and they are absolutely worth the investment. A well-run, properly implemented case management system can be the single most important change you can make to your firm’s approach to doing business. If that caught your attention, let’s take a closer look…
What Exactly is a Case Management System?
A case management system is a piece of software that helps you keep track of many different aspects of your firm’s operations. Different systems have different capabilities, so there is no one-size-fits-all choice for all law firms. Case management systems offer several different features, including…
- File management
- Time management tools (like stopwatches, particularly useful for keeping track of billable hours)
- Calendar management
- Workflow management
- Accounting tools and fiscal management
- Online payment systems
- Communication management (emails, texts, etc.)
- Client testimonial management
Not every case management system performs all these functions, nor are all systems equally effective at performing each function. Additionally, some systems are better equipped to work with other apps and devices. Some systems are strictly cloud-based, while others offer more offline features. In other words, there are many varieties of case management systems that you will be choosing from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Examples of Law Firm Case Management Systems
When you begin your search for the perfect case management system for your law firm, you’ll come across many options, including…
- File Vile
- Law Ruler
- Zola Suite
Why Implement a Case Management System?
Some of the tools offered by case management systems offer obvious benefits. For example, payment and communication tools make interactions with clients simpler. File management features allow your team members to better keep track of all your documents. These basic features are great, but perhaps the greatest benefit of case management systems is their ability to make your firm more profitable by letting you see the bigger picture of your business’s operations.
When integrated properly into your firm’s workflow, case management systems allow you to see how your team is allocating their time and which practice areas could be more profitable for your firm. Case management systems also allow you to find about more about inquiries to your firm, so you can improve your outreach. To get these benefits from case management systems, you must be sure that your team is using it.
How to Incorporate a Law Firm Case Management System
What’s worse than a firm not using a case management system? A firm that has failed to properly implement a case management system. Once you’ve made the decision to use a case management system, you must make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Typically, this means changing a few of your team’s habits.
Every team member needs to be on the same page and to take the integration process seriously. The good news is that these systems are often fairly intuitive and, after a few weeks of dedicating yourselves to the new system, growing pains will pass quickly. You will then start to see the benefits of using a case management system at your law firm.
Criteria to Consider When Choosing a New System
What software does your firm currently use? How big are your team, caseload and budget? The answers to these questions will affect the system you choose. The best system for other firms might not work for your firm. Decide which tools your firm needs most and look for systems that excel in those areas. Determine how much you are willing to spend on a system and talk to a representative of the system’s provider to see whether they offer a range of services within that budget.
At LMA, we have seen how dramatically a case management system can impact a legal practice. We’ve also seen firms pay good money for a system and never use it properly. It is vital that you commit to your new system and make sure your team does the same. It might seem daunting but, trust us, it’s never the hassle you’re expecting it to be.
If you are considering a law firm case management system, we can help. We’ve worked with many firms to find the perfect system and make sure it is implemented properly. You can have a more efficient, profitable firm by making a few simple adjustments to your operation. Case management systems can help, and so can we. Contact LMA today to learn more about our services.