The Tabs3 Blog
Grow Your Practice with Automation Using Legal CRM
In today’s competitive legal landscape, law firms must leverage every available tool to effectively manage and grow their practice. One of the most effective tools? A client relationship management (CRM) system, which helps you streamline various aspects of your firm’s communication tasks, from lead generation to client intake and beyond.
Even better than industry-agnostic CRM software, though, is legal-specific CRM software that allows you to leverage marketing automation tools. While some operations require hands-on workflows, many can be automated, freeing up time for more critical tasks and enabling your practice to grow.
How to choose the best Legal CRM
When selecting a suitable CRM system for your law firm, look for one that is easy to use, comes with great support, and allows customization.
Your legal CRM software should be easy to use for everyone involved, from intake staff to managing partners.
When your software is easily adoptable by your staff, you’ll reduce the time spent on training and implementation (not to mention minimize any frustration that may occur as a result of a system that’s difficult to navigate).
Responsive support team
Even the most user-friendly software can run into technical issues. If you need support, you’ll want to choose a software system that comes with a team of knowledgeable customer service representatives who are ready to assist you as needed.
Every law firm is different, which is why you should look for software that can be easily customized and scaled according to your firm’s unique needs.
- A solo practice may need a solution that simplifies client intake and streamlines their tech stack so they don’t have to juggle multiple products.
- A mid-sized firm may want to focus on improving the client experience with text messaging, allowing clients to more easily schedule appointments and connect with their legal team.
- Large firms may require more advanced features, such as legal CRM software that can allow for complex drip campaigns to increase their client retention while reducing leaks in their client sales funnel.
With Tabs3 CRM, your law firm can streamline its processes and nurture client relationships, all without taking focus away from delivering exceptional legal services.
Why choose Tabs3 CRM?
While there are numerous CRMs on the market, law firms may find that industry-agnostic solutions require a great deal of calibration to meet the needs of legal professionals. On the other hand, legal-specific CRM systems like Tabs3 CRM cater to the unique needs of modern law firms.
The Tabs3 CRM funnel enables you to effectively manage leads, prospects, and clients in a single, user-friendly platform while also supporting the complex operational needs of a law firm, like client intake, appointment scheduling, file-sharing, and more.
This comprehensive approach ensures that:
- Clients feel supported and engaged from first contact
- Information easily syncs with your practice management system
- Attorneys preserve the maximum number of billable hours
Here’s an overview of the key features that make Tabs3 CRM a growth game-changer for your legal practice:
Smart client intake
You don’t have to settle for a client intake process that is time-consuming, ineffective, or error-prone. The right legal CRM should include intuitive client intake solutions that make it easier to:
- Customize intake forms for different practice areas
- Sort out qualified from unqualified leads
- Sync client data with your practice management software
- Automate document assembly to move legal matters along more efficiently
One of the biggest benefits of smart intake forms is that they save your law firm billable hours. Instead of fiddling with forms and performing tedious data entry, you can focus on client work, building relationships, and other growth-generating activities.
Marketing is necessary for growth, but it can be costly and time-consuming. So how do you get the greatest return on investment (ROI) for your marketing without sacrificing billable hours? With marketing automation. There are numerous marketing automation tools available for law firms, but several key ones are built right into Tabs3 CRM.
Text message automation
Tabs3 CRM facilitates lead nurturing with text automation and custom forms. By automating text messages and creating tailored forms, you can gather valuable information about your leads and cater to their specific needs and preferences.
Use text message automations to connect with clients for:
- Consultation information
- Appointment confirmations
- eSignature requests
Email drip automation
Save time and maintain consistent communication with your leads by automating email sequences.
Our CRM software helps you create personalized email templates, schedule follow-ups, and track engagement to keep potential clients (and even leads who have gone cold) engaged throughout the conversion process. And the more engaged your prospects are, the more likely they are to turn into satisfied clients.
Once a lead becomes a client, Tabs3 CRM simplifies the transition by seamlessly integrating with PracticeMaster. This integration ensures that all client information is accurately and efficiently transferred between systems, allowing you to focus on providing top-notch legal services.
By implementing Tabs3 CRM in your law firm, you can effectively track leads, grow prospects, and gain clients with a tool designed specifically for the needs of modern law practices.
Grow your practice with Tabs3 CRM
As a legal professional, your time is incredibly valuable. By harnessing the power of Tabs3 CRM, you can automate and streamline your client management processes, allowing you to focus on what truly matters: providing exceptional legal services and gaining more billable hours.
Are you ready to see how Tabs3 CRM can revolutionize your practice? Sign up for a demo today and see the difference automation can make in managing and growing your law practice.
June 01, 2023
Why Intellectual Property Firms Need Practice Management Software
Intellectual property law is a field for meticulous people. Your clients depend on you to catch every last detail and potential risk for their intellectual property. From patents and supporting documents to deadlines and prosecution, IP law firms keep track of a lot of moving parts.
But even the most organized law firm can drop the ball sometimes if they don’t use the right tools for their practice.
Your supporting tools and systems are essential to achieving peak performance, and those tools look different for every field. For intellectual property law, practice management software is one of the main tools of the trade.
Legal practice management software is the organizational powerhouse that helps IP law firms thrive and check off every single detail to protect their clients’ hard work.
What is legal practice management software?
Practice management software in general is simply software designed to help any business operate more efficiently. These programs can range from all-in-one solutions to customized packages.
Practice management software often features:
- Workflow and task management
- Contact management
- Client relationship management (CRM) tools
- Detailed reporting and data analytics
- Time and expense tracking
- Billing and invoicing
- Integrations with other systems for easier use
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that general practice management software is designed to accommodate any type of business. This means that industry-agnostic software can require a lot of customization for law firms, who will have to put in extra work to build a system that suits their unique needs.
On the other hand, legal practice management software is designed with attorneys in mind.
This enables law firms to take advantage of the software’s functionalities to improve their operations almost immediately. For example, instead of spending hours trying to get your generic CRM to support your firm’s case matter management program, you can use legal practice management software with a built-in legal CRM to keep everything you need all in one place (and minimize duplicate or incorrect client information).
This means that law firms are positioned to see a much faster ROI from the outset. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are four ways IP firms can use legal practice management software to improve their practice.
1. Automated workflows prevent issues before they start
Intellectual property law demands meticulous attention to deadlines, forms, and documentation. Even the smallest missed deadline can have significant ramifications for your client’s ability to safeguard their creations.
Legal practice management systems help you keep track of all the moving parts with automated workflows, so your team never misses a beat.
Build customizable templates to assemble documents faster, with fewer errors. Once you’ve built your templates, such as standard IP documents or service agreements, you can assemble these documents with automated client data population in the blink of an eye. Because the software pulls client information directly from the system, it reduces the risk of clerical errors that could cost you precious time.
The best practice management programs include advanced calendar functions, such as the ability to schedule a series of events from one kick-off date. It can also alert users of a double booking and allow staff to review all upcoming events related to a specific matter or client.
Simple conflict of interest checks
Built-in conflict of interest searches let attorneys instantly review potential conflicts of interest between your firm and prospective clients. The software uses phrase matching, phonetic checks, and other features to uncover any issues. This means no more digging through endless spreadsheets or mountains of old files to cross-reference client information.
2. Task management automations save time
Task management automations help intellectual property attorneys save time and accomplish repetitive tasks more efficiently. After you set up the workflows that work for your team, the program can trigger tasks or send reminders following specific actions.
In addition to document assembly automation, your software can take care of tasks like:
- Starting emails
- Running reports
- Adding appointments to your calendar
- Launching other software features
- Launching other programs like Outlook, Excel, and Acrobat
These tasks may not seem overly time-consuming when they occur, but the minutes you spend on them each day can add up to more than 40 hours in a year. That’s more time every day that you can use for higher-value tasks and focusing on the big picture.
3. Easier client communications builds more productive partnerships
Whether you’re simply reviewing a patent or filing litigation, communications are at the heart of your client experience. Without consistent, effective communication with your clients, firms are much more likely to miss details that could make or break a contentious IP filing. Regardless, a firm’s communication practices are essential to providing the strong client experience that allows firms to build a list of long-term, ideal clients.
Legal practice management software helps intellectual property law firms maintain personalized communications on both urgent and ongoing matters, so your clients feel valued and confident of your dedication (even when you’re knee-deep in casework).
Client relationship management (CRM) tools are designed to help law firms communicate with clients more efficiently about the client intake process, scheduling, appointments, deadlines, and updates to your law firm. From first contact, legal CRM can help you provide immediate responses via text and email communications, automated drip campaigns, and logic-based intake forms that help you identify leads.
While some CRM systems are separate from practice management software, CRM that is compatible with your legal practice management software provides a seamless integration, which equates to even more time saved.
If your team struggles to sift through endless email threads or maintain consistent client communication, practice management tools can help you keep up and stay organized, starting with your inbox.
For example, PracticeMaster’s built-in email tools sync with Outlook, which means that legal staff can add client communications to each corresponding matter. By simplifying the centralization of information for case matters, all team members can stay up-to-date on client communications.
Secure file sharing and eSignatures
IP law practices work with sensitive client information and developing patents under deadline. Secure file-sharing and eSignature features enable teams to securely send information, request documents, and obtain signatures as quickly as possible. With these features, firms can save time, turn around documents faster, and bring their clients peace of mind.
Streamline your practice with Tabs3 Software’s suite of legal practice management tools
Tabs3 Software is designed to help intellectual property law firms operate more efficiently and effectively to benefit lawyers and their clients.
See for yourself why tens of thousands of legal professionals trust Tabs3 with their business when you schedule a demo today.
May 18, 2023
How You Can Use Client Portals for Easy Payment Processing
At its core, a law firm is a business. And businesses need enough funds to operate smoothly. While the business side of things is important, this often means that law firms find themselves spending too much time on billing and collecting payments and not enough time practicing law.
Law firms want to receive payments on time. Clients want transparency and convenience. The best way to meet both of those needs is to introduce a client portal.
How client portals streamline the payment process
Paying for services online is fast becoming the norm. Clients expect convenient payment options from all of their vendors, and their lawyer is no exception. The easier it is to pay your invoices, the more likely clients are to do it on time.
Online payments are convenient for clients, but they also make a significant impact on a law firm’s billing and collections process. With online payments, law firms can:
- Get paid faster
- Spend less time on past-due collections
- Minimize manual errors, write-offs, and other drains on profitability
- Ensure safe transactions with PCI compliance and other security measures
On the client side, client portals reduce guesswork by storing all client billing information in one place. With client portals, clients can benefit from:
- Convenient access to make payments online
- Viewing full billing history
- Saving credit card information for easier payments
- Clear information regarding any due balances
Client portal best practices for law firms
When implemented right, client portals ease the payment process for law firms and their clients. If you don’t use a well-planned roll-out strategy, even the best systems can fall flat.
Make sure your staff is on the same page
Even if the client portal is easy to implement, you need to ensure that your staff knows how to use the system. Take some time to roll out the product internally before you introduce it to your clients.
Once your team is on board and trained, they can serve as a resource for clients to help them feel comfortable while using the client portal.
When onboarding employees, make sure your firm:
- Creates a launch plan with clear accountability and leaders
- Provides detailed training on the software
- Demonstrates how the program benefits your team, as well as your clients
- Shows specific use cases in employee training
- Provides specific talking points and messaging tips for staff to use when they communicate with clients
Discuss the new features with long-term clients
For long-term clients, it can be a big adjustment (and potentially a negative experience) if you shift from your old payment system to a client portal without clear and frequent communication about the process and the new tool.
Create a set of client communications pieces in advance of the portal rollout, explaining the new system. Emphasize its benefits, including:
- Increased transparency
- Easier online payments
- Quick access to billing history
Once your system launches, follow up with your clients to answer any questions they may have. Consider drafting an FAQ sheet or adjusting your rollout communications as you receive more feedback.
Finally, keep in mind that not all long-term clients will want to switch to a new payment system. Be sure to communicate clearly about all of the payment options that are available.
Communicate with new clients from the very beginning
Client onboarding can feature a lot of documentation and explanations, and the idea of adding even more information may seem overwhelming. However, clear and up-front communication can only make your clients feel more comfortable with your firm.
- Set expectations: discuss your client portal and payment processes early in the onboarding process to prevent any unwanted surprises.
- Explain the benefits: emphasize how client portals can benefit your clients. Portals may seem like an extra step to payment processes, but they’re also much more secure for your client’s continued confidentiality.
- Provide FAQs: every new system will lead to some common questions. How do I change my password? Where can I see my billing history? Make sure you and your staff are prepared to work through these with your clients.
- Don’t use too much technical jargon: lawyers may be in the practice of using complex terminologies and language, but your clients are not. Remember to keep it simple. Not sure if your instructions are clear? Have outside parties review your communications and instructions to see if they can follow your documentation without getting confused or frustrated.
Streamline your payment process with Tabs3’s new client portal
Tabs3 Software’s Platinum edition offers a new client portal that integrates with Tabs3Pay to provide all the tools you need to streamline your payment process.
Learn how Tabs3’s client portal can transform your billing process and schedule a walkthrough demo today.
May 11, 2023
Security in the Digital Age: Why Your Firm Needs Secure File Sharing and eSignatures
Along with securing the best possible outcome for matters and delivering a great client experience, client confidentiality should always be a top priority for law firms. Because client privacy is such a priority, though, many firms are hesitant to introduce new tools or technologies that deal with client data. Instead, they tend to stick to tried-and-true practices.
The reality, though, is that the practices that protected client privacy ten or twenty years ago may not be as effective as they once were. Technology has led to incredible breakthroughs, but it’s also introduced vulnerabilities when it comes to data and data security.
Law firms have a duty to their clients to protect their data, and one of the best ways they can do so is by keeping pace with the digital age. Employee training, secure offices, and firm privacy policies are all essential for protecting sensitive information. However, secure file-sharing and eSignature features are also critical tools that should not be overlooked.
Why digital security is critical for law firms in the U.S.
For law firms in the U.S., data breaches are more prevalent than ever. In 2021, law firm data breaches affected 720,000 Americans, and some of these breaches have led to significant financial burdens for the law firms themselves.
Case in point: in 2022, mid-sized Ohio firm Bricker & Eckler agreed to a $1.95 million settlement for a class action lawsuit stemming from a 2021 data breach at their firm.
To protect your clients’ information and your law firm’s reputation, it’s critical now more than ever to take proactive measures for data security and file encryption. One place to start is by implementing secure file-sharing and eSignature solutions.
Secure file sharing provides peace of mind and added convenience
Sharing sensitive documents via email or paper files opens the door to human error, which increases the risk of compromised client data. Secure file-sharing platforms are an essential way to eliminate human error and maintain document security. For example, Tabs3 Software’s practice management solution PracticeMaster integrates with LexShare, a file-sharing software that provides bank-level security measures.
With secure file-sharing platforms, you and your clients send and receive files of any size with an extra layer of protection while collaborating with clients and colleagues, no matter where they are located.
Remote work means secure file sharing is more important than ever
In the past few years, law firms have transformed to allow for remote work for many employees. In 2022, 87% of lawyers reported that their law firms allow for remote work. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of private practice lawyers can work remotely 100% of the time, while 23% follow a hybrid work schedule.
For firms that enable remote work for their employees, security is a significant concern. In addition to employee training and privacy policies, secure data access is critical to maintaining ABA compliance and protecting your clients’ data. Secure file-sharing programs, combined with eSignature features, allow lawyers and clients alike to make progress on case matters without ever having to enter the office.
eSignatures are legally binding and secure for clients
Digital signatures have been around since the 1970s, but became legally binding with the ESIGN Act in 2000.
Contrary to popular belief, eSignatures provide more layers of security than email or the postal service. For legal documents, eSignatures feature specialized encryption tools, knowledge-based authentication, and secure links to protect clients’ data security.
eSignatures don’t just protect client data online. While paper documents are vulnerable to theft, fire, flood, and other physical damage, electronic client signatures ensure document preservation. When combined with practice management software, this digital documentation also helps prevent incorrect storage, misplacement, or filing errors that could lead to additional security breaches.
Cost and time savings provide an added bonus
While security is the primary concern of eSignature and file-sharing programs, the cost and time savings for law firms shouldn’t be ignored.
The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year. By switching to more paperless practices, law firms can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year in paper costs alone.
eSignatures also drastically decrease the wait time for signed documents. While many attorneys can spend hours requesting and collecting client signatures, eSignatures diminish document turnaround times by 80% (and prevent the likelihood of missing or incorrect signatures).
Combined with the security provided by eSignatures and secure file sharing, these advantages can lead to expansive benefits and peace of mind for law firms.
Protect your clients’ sensitive data with Tabs3 Software
Tabs3 Software is dedicated to following the industry’s strictest compliance and data security regulations while offering attorneys a flexible working experience.
When it comes to protecting sensitive data, Tabs3’s fully integrated suite of products can provide your firm and your clients the privacy, security, and efficiency you need to operate with confidence.
Schedule a walkthrough demo to see how Tabs3’s legal practice management software can provide digital security while also improving administrative and operational efficiency.
May 04, 2023
Tabs3 Awarded Nine G2 Badges for Q1
Standing out from the crowd can be difficult in today’s busy software marketplace, but we can’t think of a better way to stand out than to be recognized for customer satisfaction.
At Tabs3 Software, we’re pleased to announce that we have been awarded nine badges from G2 for Quarter 1 of 2023.
G2, the largest tech marketplace and review platform in the world, rates vendors and products on a quarterly basis using feedback from user reviews, along with information compiled from web resources and social media.
As a result, it has become a highly trusted resource used by professionals who are seeking to make informed decisions about which software solutions to invest in for their businesses.
Tabs3 Software has been recognized with the following awards:
High Performer: Overall
- Legal Practice Management
- Legal Case Management
- Legal Billing
High Performer: Small Business
- Legal Practice Management
- Legal Case Management
- Legal Billing
Easiest Admin: Overall
- Legal Practice Management
- Legal Billing
Easiest Admin: Small Business
- Legal Billing
The Tabs3 experience
Tabs3 Software provides an integrated suite of billing, practice management, and financial software that simplifies managing matters, calendars, contacts, and documents.
Our products include:
With an overall G2 rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, we at Tabs3 take pride in the quality of our products and support. Additionally, nine out of ten clients recommend Tabs3, and we continually receive a more than 98% satisfaction rating from our clients for our outstanding support team.
Here’s what Tabs3 clients are saying on G2:
“Their customer service is great and very communicative. They are consistently coming up with new updates to make our practice more seamless. They have a very handy “how-to” website with easy-to-follow instructions on the many features Tabs3 offers. Also, I really appreciate the video tutorials.”
- Kimberlee S.
“The software works quite well for our firm. The support staff is personable, pleasant, patient and very knowledgeable. Honestly, there is not much to dislike about working with Tabs3 Software. It is such an improvement over our old billing software.”
- Patricia M.
“The system-wide integration of client data, billing, accounting, etc., helps us track our finances and productivity very well. We tried other systems that integrated with Quickbooks, and we much prefer having everything under one software platform. Also, Tabs3 has the best customer support of any software company I have ever used.”
- Jeffrey L.
To see more reviews, visit Tabs3 on G2.
Software Technology, LLC, the maker of Tabs3 Software, is a leading provider of legal software in the United States with nearly 45 years of innovation and more than 100,000 active legal professionals using its products. Tabs3 Software offers billing, trust accounting, practice management, and payment solutions for solo to midsized law firms.
G2 is the world’s largest and most trusted software marketplace. More than 60 million people annually—including employees at all of the FORTUNE 500 companies—use G2 to make smarter software decisions based on authentic peer reviews. Thousands of software and services companies of all sizes partner with G2 to build their reputation, manage their software spend, and grow their business—including Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoom, and Adobe.
April 27, 2023
Why Business Law Firms Need Practice Management Software
For your business law clients, what’s the most important thing you do? The answer is probably that your services help their business maintain a strong legal foundation and resolve any disputes and conflicts efficiently and with as little stress as possible.
But what helps your practice increase its efficiency and decrease the stress of running a law firm?
To provide effective guidance and support for your clients, you can’t rely on your legal knowledge and experience alone. As a business, your practice needs legal practice management software so you can maximize billable hours, reduce compliance risks, and deliver excellent client service—the kind that keeps referrals coming in.
What is legal practice management software?
Legal practice management software is designed to support business operations.
The tools available through practice management software can streamline many areas of your work, including:
- Workflow and task management
- Time and expense tracking
- Contact management
- Billing and invoicing
- Robust reporting and data analytics
Depending on the needs of your practice, you may benefit from either a convenient all-in-one solution or one that allows you to customize your software with the features that are most important to your firm.
Why choose legal practice management software?
Unlike industry-agnostic software solutions, legal practice management software is designed specifically for law firms and tailored to their workflows and compliance needs. For example, a general email management tool might allow you to manage your contacts, but with a law firm-specific software, you can benefit from built-in conflict of interest checks.
Another important example is law firm trust accounting: if one of your business clients relies on trust accounting, your team could spend hours trying to build usable trust accounting workflows with a generic accounting system. But with legal-specific software, your firm can use built-in trust accounting software for three-way reconciliation and robust reporting.
Features like this help protect your firm from compliance violations at many levels while also improving workflows at every stage of matter lifecycles.
Four reasons why business law firms need practice management software
Because business law firms have their hands in widely disparate matters, it’s critical that your team has the tools it needs to stay on top of billable and non-billable tasks alike.
Position your firm for success by taking advantage of these four benefits of legal practice management software.
1. Improved client communication keeps everyone on the same page
Whether you’re simply reviewing a contract for a client or litigating a merger gone south, communications are at the heart of your client’s experience. Even if you are able to achieve your client’s goals in the end, poor client communication throughout the process can lead to fewer new clients, fewer repeat clients, and a less-than-stellar reputation.
Legal practice management software helps law firms maintain positive, personalized communications on both urgent and ongoing matters, so your clients feel valued and taken care of at all times.
A client relationship management (CRM) tool is a fantastic way to communicate with clients about the client intake process, scheduling, appointments, deadlines, and updates to your law firm. From first contact, a legal CRM can help you provide immediate responses via text and email communications, automated drip campaigns, and logic-based intake forms that help you identify leads.
Practice management tools can help you keep up with the fast pace of business law. If your team struggles to sift through endless email threads or maintain consistent client communication, email integration will allow you to get organized.
PracticeMaster’s built-in email tools sync with Outlook, which means that team members can add client communications to their corresponding matter. With this integration, all legal staff can be apprised of any client communications so that nothing slips through the cracks.
2. Automated workflows reduce errors
Business law requires meticulous attention to deadlines, forms, and documentation. The smallest missed deadline can have significant compliance or liability consequences for your clients.
Legal practice management systems provide many ways to streamline processes and help you stay on track, so you never miss a beat (or a deadline). Here are some examples.
- Document management allows you to build customizable templates, so you can assemble documents at lightning speed with automated client data population.
- Attorney-friendly calendars include advanced calendar functions, such as the ability to schedule a series of events from one kick-off date, alert users of a double-booking, and review all upcoming events related to a specific matter or client.
- Advanced conflict of interest checks with quick searches let attorneys instantly see conflicts of interest between potential clients and your firm through phrase matching, phonetic checks, and other features. No more digging through piles of paperwork or endless spreadsheets to cross-reference client information.
3. Task management automations save time
Even the most organized legal professional can save time with the automations available in practice management software. Instead of slogging through repetitive tasks, practice management software gives you workflow functionality to trigger tasks or send reminders following specific actions.
With these automations, your software can take care of tasks like:
- Starting emails
- Adding appointments to your calendar
- Assembling documents
- Running reports
- Launching other software features
These tasks may not seem overly time-consuming in the moment, but the minutes you spend on them each day can really add up over time.
4. More efficient billing benefits your firm and your clients
Billing, invoicing, and collections can take up an inordinate amount of time for legal staff. The good news is that practice management software can help your law firm get bills out quickly and get paid even faster.
Your software should streamline billing and invoicing by helping you:
- Track time and turn billable hours into fees on your client’s next statement
- Bill clients based on their fee structure (i.e. split fee, contingency, retainer, or task-based billing)
- Process credit card and online payments for faster payment processing (and a more convenient payment option for clients)
- Securely email invoices in large batches or one at a time
- Print draft statements and track which ones are under internal review
Get down to business with Tabs3 Software’s suite of legal practice management tools
Tabs3 Software is designed to help business law firms streamline their operations so they can focus on client matters.
See for yourself why tens of thousands of legal professionals trust Tabs3 with their business when you schedule a demo with us today.
April 20, 2023
Understanding the Importance of Time Tracking
For law firms, time is quite literally money. With a finite number of billable hours in a day, the way you structure, track, and plan for time can make a significant difference in areas across your legal practice.
Beyond accurate time management, incorrect timekeeping has far-reaching consequences for:
- Company profits
- ABA compliance
- Staff management
- Client trust
The best way to improve all of the above? Accurate time tracking.
Six benefits of accurate time tracking
Time tracking is key to accurately staffing and allocating resources for every facet of firm operations. Let’s get more specific, though. Here are six major benefits of proper time tracking, and how you can step up your system today.
1. Better matter budget
Because law firms build matter and case plans based on previous experience and knowledge, it can be difficult to scope projects correctly without accurate background information for similar tasks. If your firm chronically under-tracks time, then team members will consistently fall victim to underfunded projects and impossible timelines. This can also negatively impact the client experience (and ultimately, client satisfaction).
Under-tracking time doesn’t just impact billable hour projects, either. For non-billable business operations, under-budgeted projects lead to wasted work, inefficient systems, and poor project rollout.
No matter how you frame it, knowing how much associate and partner time is needed for a project will have a significant impact on a matter’s overall success. Otherwise, you may not have the time and resources you need to succeed.
2. Allocate resources accurately
Similar to budget allocation, historical project data is critical to accurately allocating resources for billable and non-billable initiatives in a legal practice. An underestimated project will take up more than the projected time, costing the firm more money and potentially leading to stressful working conditions for attorneys and staff.
On the other hand, if a firm overestimates necessary resources, it can have the opposite problem. Projects can be overstaffed. If staff time isn’t allocated correctly, it can cost associates and partners much-needed billable hours. What’s more, other client work may suffer and profitability can decrease across the board.
3. Set profitable rates and fee structures
Many firms provide different fee structures to cater to client needs, including flat fees, retainers, fee splitting, and contingency.
If your firm uses flat fees or task-based billing, your profitability depends on accurately pricing your services based on how much time a matter will take to resolve. Without accurate time tracking, you could be severely underselling your services. It’s as simple as that.
4. Maintain compliance with ABA regulations
Beyond your own firm’s needs, time tracking is essential to maintaining compliance with ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5, 1.6, and 1.15.
Per the American Bar Association, improper tracking of billable hours can lead to serious ethical dilemmas, disciplinary measures, and even disbarment.
It’s important to note that compliance matters for every team member, not just partners. According to Model Rule 1.5, firms can only charge reasonable fees (the definition of which varies based on several factors). If an associate charges a client unreasonable or padded fees, they are accountable for their actions, even if they were directed to do so by a supervising lawyer.
To keep this issue to a minimum, the ABA suggests that legal staff, especially new lawyers, take care to review bills to avoid allegations of padding, especially when logging time for multiple cases at the same time.
The ABA’s top tip for compliance? Use a desktop- and mobile-friendly time-tracking tool as part of a larger practice management system for accurate billing practices.
5. Improve client relationships
As previously noted, padded fees and invoices are a serious breach of ABA regulations. Beyond the risk of disciplinary measures, improperly tracked time can compromise client trust.
Trust is the cornerstone of strong client relationships for a law firm. Clients come to law firms to deal with serious and often stressful legal matters. They need someone they can trust to resolve their matters. If your firm loses that trust via padded billing practices or unreasonable fees, that trust is nearly impossible to get back.
On the other hand, consistent, transparent time tracking and fee structures promote open and honest communication which will lead to increased client satisfaction stemming from the level of transparency regarding pricing. This level of understanding fosters mutual trust, which is key to a law firm’s long-term growth.
6. Better understand your staff’s performance
Time tracking is an important measure of efficiency and productivity, and it tells you how much staff worked on specific projects, or with certain clients. In addition to the numerous issues listed above, inaccurate time tracking can hinder your firm’s ability to support staff who may need more help and reward staff who go above and beyond.
All of these factors play into performance reviews, employee recognition, fair compensation, and keeping track of potential high or low performers at your firm.
How to improve your firm’s time-tracking system
The biggest way to improve a firm’s time-tracking system is to implement automated time tracking throughout the day, rather than tracking time at the end of the day or week.
According to the ABA, lawyers who wait until the end of the day can lose 10% of their billable time. For lawyers who wait until the end of the week, that number goes up to a 25% loss of billable time.
By tracking time throughout the day, team members gain an accurate picture of their billable hours. But tracking via paper and pencil can be inefficient (and easy to forget). Instead, consider working with legal practice management software with integrated time tracking. For example, Tabs3 Connect allows lawyers to track their time on any smart device, and easily switch between projects or pause for breaks.
As an added bonus, Tabs3 Connect’s time tracking seamlessly integrates with Tabs3 Billing. As timekeepers track their work throughout the day, the fees will be immediately available back at the office, ready to appear on your client’s next statement. This saves time compiling client invoices each month, while still providing easy editing capabilities to ensure accurate client billing.
Simplify your time tracking with Tabs3 Software
Time tracking doesn’t have to be complicated. Simplify your system and see the results for yourself with Tabs3 Connect’s timers, accessible from any smart device, no matter where your work takes you.
To see how Tabs3 can help transform your time tracking and firm productivity, schedule a walkthrough demo today.
April 13, 2023
Do Automated Workflows Make Sense for Your Legal Practice?
Law firms often deal with complex matters, and many law practices spend significant overhead time in task management. Some operations in a legal practice need hands-on workflows to succeed.
But, hear us out: not everything has to be done manually. In fact, firms that don’t automate at least some of their processes are sacrificing valuable time that could be spent on more immediate or lucrative tasks.
While all processes in your practice require careful planning and oversight, automated tasks cut out repetitive manual work to give lawyers back some much-needed time in their day.
How automated workflows function
Automated workflows are often part of legal practice management software, which provides a central place for business operations and management. By housing data in an integrated and organized system, law firms gain access to a number of automated workflow functions that cut out the need for manual task initiation.
Automated workflows are designed to follow a set of instructions to perform tasks. They rely on basic if/then instructions: “if” an event takes place, “then” the program starts an action. When set up to run automatically, workflows streamline common tasks by starting the next function related to a previous event.
Take document assembly as an example. Users can create document templates, such as fee agreements and contracts with designated fields for input. Once you add a new client to the system or trigger another event, it will automatically assemble a fee agreement document with the client data already filled in, alongside prompts for further information.
Other common workflow automations for law firms include:
- Adding calendar appointments
- Starting emails
- Creating document management records
- Calendar reminders (i.e., Statute of Limitations reminders)
All of these tasks need to get done, but they each take time away from your team. Let’s say these tasks take just 10 minutes each day per team member. If you automate these tasks, you could save more than 40 hours per team member each year. That’s an entire workweek’s worth of hours you could spend on higher-value tasks at your practice.
Start with the regular, repetitive pain points
The best tasks to automate are the ones you have to do frequently. Think about the systems or tasks that cause the most frustration. Meet with your administrative or accounting team members to learn about their repetitive tasks, especially redundant functions like duplicate data entry.
For example, review your client billing process. Is your team creating each invoice, and manually adding each team member’s time? An automated system can create batch invoices based on time-tracking data. Instead of manually drafting each invoice, your team can quickly review and edit invoices as needed, then send them out either individually or as a batch to your clients.
Keep in mind that automated tasks are here to help reduce effort on predictable, repetitive tasks. If automation seems overwhelming, start with two or three tasks and go from there.
Automated workflows that will save you time
Workflows can be set up either to run automatically after certain events occur, manually, or both. This provides flexibility for your team to find the best system that works for them.
Client record creation
When you create new records or make edits to an existing record, automated workflows can help ensure that other related tasks are updated. For example, adding a new client record can prompt timekeeper assignments or calendar tasks.
The best legal practice management software includes an attorney-friendly calendar that syncs with Outlook, so you never miss an event. With automated workflows, events, deadlines, or new clients can automatically trigger appointment scheduling and calendar reminders, which helps keep your schedule organized and top-of-mind.
With calendar plan templates, lawyers can schedule a series of events from one kick-off date, such as a client onboarding. As an added bonus, integrated calendars can also alert users to double bookings to prevent future conflicts.
There are many opportunities for document assembly with automated workflows. You don’t have to copy, paste, save as, and still risk carrying information between documents. While the initial setup takes a bit of time, it can quickly become a go-to workflow for your entire team.
Common document assembly for new client records includes thank-you letter generations and contract agreement assembly. With these tools, teams can easily build a strong first impression with new clients in a timely manner.
It can be easy for lawyers to become laser-focused on a task and lose track of time, which can interfere with billable hour limits and your productivity for the rest of the day. With time trackers, legal staff can track their time for multiple projects in a day so you can ensure that all of your time is captured and ready to include on a statement.
When your firm prints the same set of reports every year, quarter, month, week, or any time in between, you can save time by having your reports ready to print all at once with a single click. Report suites can offer an easy one-step option to print a predefined set of reports with the click of a button.
Launching related programs
In addition to document assembly, adding a new client to the system often requires other related tasks. With PracticeMaster, when a new client or contact is added to the system, it can be set to automatically open a conflict of interest search window to review their name against your existing database.
Save time and start automating workflows today
Tabs3 Software is a fully integrated legal practice management software designed to make your life easier with workflow automation and other integrated tools, such as billing, time-tracking, accounting, online payments, advanced reporting, and document management.
Start automating workflows today, and build time back in your day to focus on big-picture items. To see how Tabs3 Software can help your law firm automate workflows, schedule a walkthrough demo or sign up for a free trial today.
March 23, 2023
Why Criminal Law Firms Need Practice Management Software
Practicing criminal law can be a high-stakes endeavor, and we’re not just talking about client matters. Criminal law practices face unique challenges in managing and growing their practice, from navigating a competitive marketplace to working with difficult clients who may require payment plans.
As an attorney, it makes sense that your business practices and needs can sometimes take a back seat to immediate client needs. But in the long run, an inefficient practice management system will only lead to more problems for you and your clients.
This state of stress and disorganization doesn’t have to be the default for your firm. Effective practice management software can help improve operations, increase profitability, and reduce stress, all while providing better support and representation for clients.
What is legal practice management software?
Practice management software is designed to help businesses operate more efficiently and effectively. Features can range from all-in-one solutions to customizable packages.
Practice management software typically includes:
- Contact management
- Time and expense tracking
- Billing and invoicing
- Workflow and task management
- Detailed reporting and data analytics
Because legal practice management software is designed with attorneys in mind, law firms can quickly take advantage of the software’s functionalities to improve their operations. For example, instead of spending hours trying to get your generic accounting software to support your trust accounting workflows, you can implement built-in trust accounting software to ensure your law firm doesn’t miss a beat (or a three-way reconciliation deadline).
This means that from the outset, law firms are positioned to see a much faster ROI.
Three reasons criminal law firms need practice management software
Criminal law practices work on matters that are often time-sensitive. For such impactful work, it’s imperative that legal staff have as much time as possible to focus on their clients’ needs, without letting anything slip through the cracks.
When it comes to client intake, matter organization, and payment processes, practice management software can streamline your operations with results that benefit all parties.
1. Improved client communications build strong relationships
Clients come to you for support and guidance in stressful situations. Firms that achieve clear and consistent communication will attract and convert more qualified leads and are better positioned to build long-term positive relationships that can result in opportunities even after a case is completed.
Legal client relationship management
Criminal law is a competitive practice area. You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and that starts with responsive communication.
A legal client relationship management (CRM) tool works with practice management software to provide a number of benefits to law firms:
- Find quality leads: with logic based intake forms, criminal law practices can reduce the time it takes to sort through interested parties to find qualified leads for your practice
- Quick, tailored responses: with built-in triggers, a legal CRM can provide appropriate and immediate follow-ups to qualified leads, such as scheduling a consultation and other next steps
- Automated drip campaigns: increase touchpoints with prospective clients with email and text campaigns that can remind clients of upcoming appointments and deadlines, as well as other relevant calls to action
- Contact management: eliminate manual and redundant data entry with an integrated CRM that automatically syncs with your practice management software
Simplify email management
Client relationship best practices begin with effective communication, and email plays an important role in that. As such, your email organization should help you work better with clients. For example, PracticeMaster’s email management system syncs with Outlook so staff can add client emails to their respective matter. With this feature, your team can work with a consolidated list of client communications so that everyone has access to all pertinent information.
2. Secure and organized matter management achieves better results for your clients
Whether you’re helping a client fight a DUI or navigate a fraud charge, you can’t afford to overlook filing deadlines or misplace evidence. Practice management software, however, can help you better manage your time, schedules, and matters.
Efficient task management
You shouldn’t have to rebuild the proverbial wheel over and over again for repetitive tasks.
Practice management software provides workflows for task automation, including:
- Document assembly
- Running custom reports
- Starting emails
- Adding appointments
- Launching other software programs
These automated tasks reduce human error and save users time every single day, improving productivity and efficiency for criminal law firms.
Integrated calendar management
Instead of using an industry-agnostic calendar, consider powering your law firm with built-in calendars that help you track matter schedules.
Integrated calendar systems sync with your email and include:
- Applying jurisdiction-specific criteria to reminders and due dates
- Recurring reminders for regular meetings
- Customizable security settings that determine which employees can see appointments for certain attorneys or clients
These features maximize your time so you can spend your energy on your matters and strategic business priorities.
Secure file sharing and eSignatures
Criminal law practices often operate with tight turnarounds and firm deadlines. Secure file-sharing and eSignature features enable teams to request documents, get signatures, and securely send information as quickly as possible by eliminating the need to print, mail, and return documents.
3. Streamlined payment processes
Criminal law firms may need to employ a variety of fee arrangements to provide the right payment solutions for their clients.
Whether your clients prefer trust accounts, flat fee arrangements, retainers, or contingency, you can use your practice management software to support flexible billing options. Firms can use an attorney’s standard rate, bill by timekeeper level (associate, partner, etc), or add custom rates for any client.
In addition to the flexibility to create a billing structure that works for each client, your practice management software can help you:
- Accept online payments by optionally including a payment link within an emailed bill for faster payment
- Schedule future and recurring payments
- Track which draft statements are still under internal review
- Quickly edit and update transactions on bills to ensure statement accuracy
Build a stronger practice with Tabs3 Software’s comprehensive legal practice management tools
Top criminal law firms use Tabs3 Software to run a more efficient and profitable practice. Tabs3 is built to meet the unique needs of your practice, so you can spend more time working on the needs of your clients.
Schedule a demo with us and see why Tabs3 Software has been a leading choice that tens of thousands of legal professionals rely on every day.
March 16, 2023
Tame the March Madness with a Well-Rounded Tech Stack
For law firms, it can be overwhelming to sort out exactly what software and programs you need in your starting line-up to operate at peak performance. Firms need to balance utility with user interface, cost, frequency of use, and a whole host of factors that can be difficult to predict.
This can result in a team of tools that aren’t built to complement each other and may actually slow your firm down.
This can be as frustrating as watching your favorite college basketball team miss a game winning shot during March Madness.
But while tech grievances are common, your legal practice can leave them in the past. It’s possible to build a system with all the functionalities your firm needs to succeed, without outdated or mismatched technology that drags you down.
If you’re looking to create a more efficient workflow for your law firm, here’s the starting line-up to get you there.
Practice management software
Practice management software is a centralized system designed to help legal practices function more efficiently. The software itself can range from all-in-one packages to customizable solutions designed specifically for your law firm, but the end goal of these solutions is to allow firms to manage their entire practice from one intuitive, convenient interface.
There are many functionalities within practice management software that support better workflows and task tracking for attorneys, including matter management, documentation, calendaring, communication, and more.
Matter management tools keep case files organized, enabling your team to store all case data, files, contact information, phone records, tasks, and calendar events in one secure system. Authorized team members can collaborate with one another in the system from their desktop or smartphone, making it easy to find what you need, no matter where you are.
Document management and automation
Look for legal practice management software with built-in document management. This feature lets teams track who made what changes in a document, and when they did it. Your software should also enable linking between documents and matters. As a result, team members have more transparent collaboration, as well as a clear history of case matters and updates.
Document automation allows firms to build custom legal templates to save time on generating document. With document templates, team members can easily populate client or case information into the template, which helps reduce human error and manual administrative time.
More than your average calendar app, integrated calendars enable you to schedule tasks and appointments for individuals, groups, or the entire firm. The best software will also include calendar plan templates to schedule a series of events following a kick-off date, such as automated follow-ups after a client is onboarded.
For extra points, practice management calendars also alert you to double bookings. This feature can save hours of untangling scheduling problems and prevent missed appointments.
File-sharing and eSignature capabilities
Two-way secure file-sharing makes it easy to collaborate with clients and outside parties while minimizing risk for all involved. With eSignatures, clients can sign legally binding documents from any device, eliminating the need to print, sign, scan, and email documents. This improves the client experience and boosts turnaround time for documents, since clients are more likely to quickly sign and send forms when you make it more convenient for them to do so.
Time tracking software
Time tracking software can streamline administrative tasks and make tracking billable hours easier for everyone. When members of your legal team don’t account for their time until the end of the day (or the end of the week), it can lead to inaccurate reporting. This can result in either shortchanging the firm or overcharging the client.
Neither scenario is ideal for growing a firm and can even pose compliance risks for your practice.
Time tracking software lets team members record how they spend their time throughout the day, which creates an accurate picture of their activities as they work. Look for software with mobile capabilities so your team members can track time no matter where they work.
With time tracking reports, your team can also analyze how they spend their time so you can check on their performance, client time allocation, and administrative pain points. As a result, firms can make informed decisions regarding how they need to spend their time.
Client relationship management software (CRM) is a tool that helps firms manage their client intake process and marketing efforts. Legal CRMs are built specifically with law firms in mind, which reduces the need for heavy customization.
Legal CRM provides many valuable tools for law firms, including email and text campaigns as well as automated follow-ups.
Automated client follow-ups
A robust legal CRM provides automated client follow-ups via email, phone calls, and/or text messages. With CRM software, firms can send automatic reminders about upcoming appointments or other deadlines. Firms can also use automated messages to follow up on missed calls to keep the conversation going with potential leads.
Email drip campaigns
Email drip campaigns can build stronger relationships with your leads by creating valuable touchpoints. For prospective clients, email campaigns can communicate information about the services your firm provides or next steps in the client intake process.
Text message functionality
Text messages have almost a 98% open rate, so it’s an important resource for client communications. With a legal CRM, firms can share documents securely by text, as well as important reminders and next steps for clients. You can set up text message communication based on certain triggers or to send to multiple groups.
Billing and invoicing software
Billing and invoicing does not have to be complicated. With the right software, firms can create efficient systems that improve payment processing and compliance reporting without the usual headaches.
Get bills out quickly and easily
If your time tracking software is integrated with your billing software, creating and sending bills can be a quick and easy process every time.
Billing software makes it easy to:
- Set up automated batch billing or send invoices one at a time. Bills can be password-protected for high-profile clients.
- Pull billable hours from time tracking into client invoices with easy editing features for bills that need review.
- Send invoices at the same time each month to create consistency for your clients.
- Run advanced reporting to review records and ensure compliance.
As an added bonus, billing software makes it easy for firms to bill with flexible rate types such as split fee, flat fee, contingency, retainer, progress, or task-based billing.
Get paid faster
Within a robust billing and invoicing software, firms can use tools that will help them get paid faster, while also creating a streamlined payment experience for clients.
Look for software that accepts credit cards and online payments. Many clients prefer paying online because of the added convenience and are more likely to pay invoices in a timely manner. This helps with your firm’s liquidity and reduces the time it takes you to follow up on past-due collections.
Trust accounts have very specific parameters for compliance and state regulations. Billing software helps build trust accounting that is efficient and in compliance for your peace of mind.
Trust accounting features can provide:
- Intuitive tracking and dashboards
- Three-way reconciliation reports for trust accounts
- Notices when an account falls below the minimum threshold
- Tracking for an unlimited number of trust accounts
- Positive Pay programs for your bank’s fraud prevention program
These features make it easier to manage trust accounts with confidence while providing increased transparency for clients.
Make your tech stack work for you with Tabs3 Software
The technology you use should make your law firm easier to run, not harder. For a well-balanced and complimentary tech stack, an integrated system of practice management, CRM, time tracking, and billing software will create a winning strategy for you and your clients.
Build the tech stack you need with Tabs3 Software. Tabs3’s suite of client and law firm-friendly tools offers fully integrated billing, accounting, and practice management tools to help law firms run more efficiently and profitably.
To see how Tabs3 can help your law firm work better, schedule a walkthrough demo today.
March 09, 2023