All law firms, no matter their size, seek to maximize their profits. After all, there’s no reason to throw money toward cases that are unlikely to be successful or to seek clients in a practice area that doesn’t have a strong return on investment. One way to ensure that your practice manages its revenue opportunities is through a robust case management system. Our guide to case management systems for small law firms can help you understand the benefits these systems can offer your practice.
What Are Case Management Systems for Law Firms?
Case management systems for law firms allow you to combine multiple applications into one sleek platform. Using a case management system, you’ll eliminate the need for multiple applications and streamline your law firm’s processes.
You can choose between cloud-based and local solutions. Generally, cloud-based case management systems are cheaper, while local solutions are more customizable to fit your firm’s needs.
Not all case management systems have the same features. Some are more generic, while others provide greater functionality. A few of the most common features include:
- Time trackers for managing billable hours
- Accounting management
- Calendar and workflow tools
- Email solutions
- Client management
- Storage of case files
- Online payment acceptance.
Law firms using multiple applications for these processes will find that case management systems quickly centralize all of your most important activities. Moreover, you can improve collaboration between your employees by allowing them to view specific folders or functions.
You can also establish security protocols for specific folders that should be kept private, such as your clients’ files. Some solutions offer mobile apps that you can use whenever you’re on the go, allowing you to access your email or other vital information even if you’re not at the office.
Why You Need Case Management Systems for Law Firms
Case management systems benefit law firms seeking to improve their processes and manage their clients more efficiently. Using multiple systems hinders productivity and can lead to serious mistakes.
For instance, if you’re working on a case and saving all of your documentation in paper files, it’s easy to misfile essential details. When a misfile happens, you’ll find yourself scrounging through your other files, looking for the missing information. In the worst cases, you may forget about the document and not use its important details when formulating your case.
Paper storage also makes it difficult to answer questions while on the phone or speaking to a client in your office. You can easily access your documentation through your case management system when you store it online.
Case management systems aren’t just great for managing clients; they’re also helpful for maintaining internal functions, like email and accounting. Rather than using a standalone accounting system, you can use the case management system to track all the relative financial tasks of your firm, including billing and client payments.
You won’t need to invest in outside email systems like Outlook or Gmail; instead, you can use the system-supported communication system for collaborating with clients, colleagues, and third parties.
Benefits of Case Management Systems for Law Firms
There are several advantages to deploying a case management system, including:
1. Streamlined Operations
With a case management system, you won’t need to use multiple applications for daily practice operations. Instead, you can rely on one system for all of your administrative needs. A single system keeps your firm from maintaining information in various locations, leading to process improvement and timely decisions.
2. Reduced Expenses
Most case management systems can be purchased for a one-time outlay or on a subscription basis. Rather than paying for various applications, you’ll only pay for one. You can then use accounting functions to determine where you’re spending the most and reduce your practice’s overhead costs.
3. Big Picture Visibility
Many case management systems come with accounting functionality and insights into your revenue streams. You’ll be able to tell which practice areas are performing optimally and which don’t bring much to the table. Once you discover where your firm produces the most return on investment, you can focus your marketing efforts on bringing in similar clients.
4. Better Collaboration with Your Team
While smaller law firms usually don’t have many employees, their employees still need to collaborate. Many employees of small law firms communicate informally, stepping into each other’s’ offices when they need assistance. However, law firms need to develop strategies for formal communication in anticipation of scaling their practice over the long term.
All law firms start small, but over time most expand as they develop their reputation in the community. Ensuring your team has the right platform to communicate effectively and track important details can help you when it comes time to grow. You won’t need to develop new processes because you’ll already have the right ones in place.
5. A Strong Reputation in the Community
As you take on more cases, you’ll begin to cement your reputation in your city or town. Case management systems can help you manage all of your communication with your clients. You can efficiently respond to their emails, accept payments online, and manage your firm’s brand with client testimonials.
Building positive customer reviews through effective case management will help you develop a strong presence and attract future clients.
Drawbacks of Case Management Systems
To be honest, there are very few drawbacks to purchasing a case management system. Once the system is in place, its benefits become apparent in the following months. However, you may encounter a few roadblocks, like:
1. “This Isn’t How We Do Things” Syndrome
Getting employee buy-in is at the top of the list of disadvantages when implementing a case management system. Often, lawyers and employees become used to their current procedures, and bringing in a whole new system can raise a few eyebrows. You can alleviate staff concerns by describing the benefits of the case management system and how it will ease their workload.
Make sure to prepare to introduce the system to your team. Once your employees understand the benefits, ask for their input. While you don’t have to change your decision to introduce the system, sometimes asking for opinions can improve acceptance among your team.
2. The Expense of the System
Systems with greater functionalities and customization options are usually more expensive than those that are more generic. You’ll need to weigh the costs of each system against the benefits you expect to receive from it.
If your firm is in its early growth stages, you may be unable to afford the system with the most bells and whistles. That’s okay. Look for a system that fits your needs and meets your price requirements. You can always upgrade your system as your firm continues to grow.
3. Adapting to the System
Often, you’ll need an implementation period to adapt to a new system. You may need to upload multiple files, and you’ll likely need to move your accounting records. Setting up employee email accounts and authorizations will also take some time.
Implementation can be slow, especially if you have been in practice for several years. However, case management system providers can help with the transition and ensure your employees receive the necessary training. You and your employees should feel comfortable with your new case management system within a few months.
Case Management Systems for Law Firms: Available Options
Numerous case management systems are available on the market today for all sorts of legal practices. A few that we recommend for smaller firms include:
Filevine offers solutions for various law firm practice areas, including personal injury, immigration, insurance, and criminal defense law. Its cloud-based platform allows you to access everything you need through its app or online.
The Filevine platform offers case management software, document management and collaboration, insights into your firm’s financial performance, and marketing optimization tools. You can easily manage contracts and obtain e-signatures online.
MyCase is another cloud-based solution that’s perfect for small firms. This platform is appropriate for all practice areas, including personal injury, bankruptcy, civil litigation, real estate, and general practice.
The MyCase solution set is one of the cheaper case management options available, with prices starting at $39 per month on their annual plan. Firms that sign up for MyCase enjoy a variety of features, including case management, time tracking, customer relationship management, and end-to-end accounting.
RocketMatter is a good option for small law firms or solo practitioners. Its features include document automation, project management, document sharing, and automated billing. With RocketMatter, your clients can pay their invoices online. The system accepts both credit cards and eChecks.
The RocketMatter platform easily integrates with other software you may use, like Office365 or QuickBooks.
PracticePanther is a simple-to-use cloud-based platform. It offers a mobile app and online solutions, so you can access essential documents wherever you are. The platform provides complete document management, including file storage. You can also manage your legal billing, including time tracking and invoicing.
The PracticePanther platform integrates with numerous apps, including Outlook, Gmail, QuickBooks, and Dropbox.
Get Help Choosing Your Case Management System
We hope you found our guide to case management systems for small law firms helpful. Knowing which solution is best for your practice can be challenging. Lawyers Marketing Associates helps firms of all sizes realize their potential through process streamlining and marketing management.
Our team has helped numerous legal firms choose their case management systems and manage their implementation processes. We can help you, too. Contact LMA at (919) 637-9144 to learn more about our services.