Law office technology is a topic of great interest. While law office technology choices change (and improve) at such a rapid pace, legal ethics are often slow to keep up. The big question is whether legal tech can really help a lawyer comply with legal ethics. The short answer is that it’s possible. While technology is only as good as what you choose to do with it, it can help you improve how your law office operates. That improvement may bring you into compliance or make staying into compliance with legal ethics much easier. In this post, we’re going to look at a few broad categories of law office technology and briefly discuss how they may help you.
Scheduling Tools for Lawyers
Think about the last time you missed a deadline, forgot about a new client consultation, or missed an appointment with an existing client. Answer honestly: how often does that happen to you? Between the ability to create reminders on your smartphone and scheduling tools designed specifically for lawyers, there’s really no excuse to miss any appointment or deadline. Remember that missing deadlines and appointments can lead to a legal ethics complaint being filed against you.
Consider the main issue. Do you primarily miss deadlines for filing documents with the court or internal deadlines that would keep you on track? Do you primarily miss new client consultations and appointments with existing clients? Of course, if you struggle with keeping deadlines and dates in general, you might consider using both internal scheduling and client scheduling tools.
For internal scheduling, you can do something as simple as utilizing Google calendar (or the calendar that comes built-in to whichever email program you use). Google now also has Google Assistant which can be used to create reminders that will appear on your phone. You can also use Google Keep to create a basic to-do list that you can eventually migrate over to your calendar with the appropriate date. If you use Outlook, make sure that you take full advantage of Task Manager. Task Manager allows you to use both deadlines and reminders. If you have an assistant, share your calendar with them. They can help you create the reminders that you need.
Let’s talk about consultation and appointment scheduling. If clients still primarily call in to set consultations or appointments, they can be placed directly onto your calendar (particularly if you share it so that your assistant can access it). If you’re looking to take more advantage of law office technology, tools like TimeTrade and Acuity Scheduling are great options. Acuity even allows you to accept payments at the time of scheduling if you charge for consultations.
Automate Your Billing
Unpleasant billing surprises are a common reason why clients file legal ethics complaints with the bar. It’s imperative that you stay on top of your billing. Additionally, a bill should never be sent without you reviewing it for errors first. There are several law office technology options to help you automate your billing. A few options to get you started include Clio with LawPay and MyCase with PayPros Legal. In addition to automatic invoice creation, online billing generally allows your clients to pay online.
A tool of this nature makes it much easier to get bills out on time and keep clients up to date on their cases as required by legal ethics rules!
Easier Communication with Clients
Failure to keep clients updated on their matters is another main factor behind why legal ethics complaints are filed. Law office technology provides solutions to this problem. There are options that allow clients to log-in to a secured platform and receive files or read messages from you. You can also use it to create a monthly email template that you can change to update each client individually on their matter.
Choosing the Right Law Office Technology for Your Needs
While we’ve discussed some of the more common law office technology options that can help you minimize risk for the most commonly violated legal ethics rules, that doesn’t mean that they’re right for you. Objectively assess the needs of your office and how those needs could leave you at risk. Then, seek out the options that are right for you.