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.