During the holidays, work tends to drift downward on our list of priorities. It’s still important, of course, but during this season, family and friends tend to be at the forefront of our minds.
With all the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, shopping for gifts, and celebrating the new year, lawyers find themselves with three big issues:
- There’s less time to accomplish everything on your to-do list.
- Because you want to spend time with your loved ones, you want to work less.
- You still need to help your clients with their case matters.
Whether you’re a solo law firm or a mid-sized business, the same issues will crop up every year. How to solve all these problems simultaneously may seem like a paradox, but the answer is simple: using workflow automation to accomplish more in less time.
What is workflow automation?
Workflow automation may sound like a buzzword, but it’s a well-established practice that can help law firms reduce the amount of time they spend on repetitive tasks.
Workflow automations vary by industry, but generally, they work by setting up “trigger” events to initiate a task or process. For law firms, this could include:
- Populating document templates with client data directly from your practice management system
- Starting a notification email following the completion of certain tasks
- Adding appointments to your calendar from Outlook
Let’s look at three specific examples of how automation can help you reclaim your time so you can spend more time with your family this holiday season (without constantly stressing about your to-do list).
How law firms can save time and money with workflow automation
The three areas where workflow automation can really save your firm time and money are setting up more efficient processes, running billing and financials, and managing client relationships.
1. Build more efficient workflows
We know you don’t want to choose between having a joyous holiday season with your family and providing your clients with the high level of service. Thankfully, setting up workflow automations means you don’t have to choose.
Using your legal practice management software, teams can automate administrative and repetitive tasks such as:
- Creating and assembling documents
- Drafting emails
- Adding calendar appointments
- Setting calendar reminders
- Running reports
These tasks may not seem particularly time-consuming in the moment, but they add up. Think of it this way: lawyers often bill to minimum increments (i.e., 6 minutes). At the end of the week, how many billing increments have you spent on these tasks when you could automate them instead?
Document assembly and creation
With legal practice management software, firms can use document management features to build customizable templates. This one-time setup enables your team to assemble future documents at lightning speed that can be automatically populated with client data.
Your clients rely on you to provide timely updates about their matters, but starting emails can be a major mental lift. Set up workflow automations to draft emails based on specific triggers in your practice management system. For example, if you have to schedule a deposition, you can set up an email reminder to the person being deposed.
Managing your calendar doesn’t have to be a manual process. Calendars integrated with your practice management system feature advanced functions that can save you and your team significant time.
Look for legal practice management software that includes an attorney-friendly calendar that syncs with Outlook to ensure you never miss an event, even if your attention is on other tasks.
Other helpful features include calendar plan templates that allow lawyers to schedule a series of events following a kick-off date, such as a client onboarding. Integrated calendars can also alert users to double bookings to prevent future conflicts or rescheduling.
Lawyers can also use automated workflows to manage their calendars more efficiently with workflows that trigger appointment scheduling and calendar reminders to help you keep your schedule organized and top-of-mind.
When your firm runs reports regularly, such as every week, month, or quarter, you can save time by automating report generation. Report automations can offer an easy one-step option to create and save a predefined set of reports with the click of a button.
2. Automate billing and financial tasks
Billing and financial tasks can be repetitive. With a billing matter manager, firms can streamline almost every step of the process to realize big-time savings.
Use a legal billing software solution to:
- Review or update key metrics, such as accounts receivable, work-in-process, and trust balances
- Track time
- Bill using flexible fee structures
- Perform common tasks
- Run financial reports
- Process monthly client invoices in less time
- Manage online payment processing
Take credit for your work, no matter where you are
During the holidays, remote work is a common staple as people travel to spend time with their families. With Tabs3 Billing, firms can process client invoices securely, whether your team is in the office or working from home.
To speed up the billing process, you can email statements one at a time or in batches. Teams can create draft statements and track which ones are still under review or review any transaction on a bill to edit or update it.
Trust accounting without the hassle
Trust accounts need to be monitored for compliance. But with the right legal billing software, firms can set clear workflows for handling trust accounts, such as when to withdraw funds or replenish funds, which can save time and protect your firm from missteps. Tabs3 Trust Accounting also provides advanced reporting and easy-to-use dashboards that offer a bird’s eye view of your firm’s trust accounts.
3. Use a CRM to complete client intake more efficiently
With legal client relationship management (CRM) software, firms can streamline client intake workflows and communicate more efficiently.
Even better, legal CRM tools offer a range of automation features that can keep client intakes moving during the holidays, such as follow-ups, eSignature requests, and appointment confirmations.
These automations reduce the stress on your administrative or intake staff, but they can also improve communication with clients (or soon-to-be clients) during a hectic time of the year. Instead of worrying about overlooking an appointment, your clients can trust that you’re keeping track of meetings and appointments for them.
Automations in your CRM aren’t limited to client intake tasks or meeting reminders, though. You can also use automated email and text message marketing to send seasonal greetings to leads, clients, and referral partners. Let them know about holiday hours, celebrations, and important end-of-year information.
Ring in the new year with Tabs3
It’s a smart practice to implement automations at your law firm, but not all automations are the same. You want to make sure you’re able to customize workflow automations to the precise needs of your practice.
Tabs3 Software is an industry-leading practice management software that allows attorneys to dial in automations to do exactly what is needed. Instead of out-of-the-box automations that only partially work for your firm, Tabs3 offers high levels of customization along with customer service that’s second to none.
Schedule a demo today to see why tens of thousands of legal professionals trust Tabs3 with their business.