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Lawyerist Lab Unleashes the Power of AI with Lasso the Lab Coach

Lawyerist Lab was recently upgraded with the addition of a Tology-powered chatbot: Lasso the Lab Coach. It’s vital to keep up with the times, and that means embracing the power of AI and leveraging it for clients. “Lawyers don’t have time to become experts in AI. Our job is to experiment with tools so that we can teach our community,” said Stephanie Everett, Lawyerist CEO and Lab Coach.

Convenient Business Coaching Powered by AI

Lawyerist Lab is a business coaching program designed for small law firm owners looking to grow and scale. It features a team of expert business and legal technology coaches and numerous courses built with small firms in mind.

Lasso blends seamlessly into Lawyerist Lab, acting as a virtual coach for members of the community (also known as Labsters). Built directly into the Lab coaching portal, Lasso pulls from Lawyerist’s extensive content library to simplify and expand the learning experience. And with unlimited availability, it can address critical issues at any hour of the day.

Of course, Lasso wasn’t built to replace Lab coaches. The AI tool will supplement small law firm owner’s learning and improve the quality of coaching sessions. Stephanie envisions Lasso helping coaches and Labsters to “get to a more thoughtful discussion.” In the past, answers that were available, but not readily found, in Lab materials, took valuable time away during coaching sessions. With Lasso’s ability to quickly find and summarize information, coaches can focus on the unique issues each Labster faces.

A Glance at Lasso’s Capabilities

Lasso provides a convenient interface for Labsters to ask any question that comes to mind. In just a few moments, the chatbot provides a thoughtful answer, which spares no detail. Discussions are stored in Lasso’s window for future access, and they can easily be copied into a user’s personal notes. If the results of a query are insufficient, Lasso offers a follow-up button to continue any conversation. This allows Lasso to build on a previous answer without repeating information.

Shows a screenshot of Lasso the Lab Coach in action returning a list of suggested software products from a Labster's question about trust accounting help.

The Dos and Don’ts of Lasso the Lab Coach

AI can be a little scary. It seems like each new breakthrough comes with another discussion about data privacy and security. As a result, many people have reservations about using AI technology, especially with sensitive data. To better understand how Lasso should be used, here are some dos and don’ts for the tool.

  • Do: craft business strategies that align with company values. Lasso was created to work alongside Lawyerist Lab, which means helping law firms develop and grow according to their visions.
  • Don’t: share client data or request legal guidance. Lawyerist saves prompts to improve Lasso, so don’t share private data! Coaches will monitor questions to stay in the loop on common interests or concerns for Labsters.
  • Do: find software tools for success. Lasso has access to hundreds of resources and articles covering the latest and greatest in legal technology. Labsters can use Lasso to find multiple options for their technical challenges.
  • Don’t: use Lasso for IT support. While Lasso is an amazing piece of technology, it can’t save Labsters from their other software challenges. Lasso’s sole focus is helping law firms build solid foundations for business operations.

Leveling Up Law Firms with Lawyerist Lab

Lasso is just one small part of Lawyerist Lab. Access to coaches, materials, and the Lab community are invaluable resources for any small law firm. No matter what stage your small law firm is in, Lawyerist Lab can help it succeed. Apply to Lab today to start your journey to a healthier small law firm.

CosmoLex Trust Accounting is Anything but Basic

Do you know the largest source of client complaints about lawyers? Communication—unreturned calls, unanswered emails, etc. The second largest source of complaints? Money. More specifically, how attorneys handle their clients’ funds.

Law Firm Accounting Complexities

Accounting plays an essential role in any business. No matter the industry, a business tracks profit and loss, tax events, and other financial measurements. Law firms do all of that while also precisely accounting for receipts and disbursements on a per-matter basis.

In some respects, trust accounting—tracking the funds we receive from or on behalf of clients, but haven’t earned for ourselves yet—is easier than standard business accounting:

  • We don’t have to monitor profit or loss;
  • We don’t record depreciation of physical assets or amortization of intangible assets; and
  • We don’t worry about interest earned or tax events.

If law firms only had to worry about their trust account (also called an IOLTA, IOLA, or escrow account, depending on your jurisdiction), they might have it easier than a generic business or non-profit. Unfortunately, a lawyer’s trust account burdens exist in addition to general business accounting requirements.

Software Simplifies the Situation

Fortunately, the additional needs of trust accounting match what computers are good at:

  • Tacking client funds on a per-matter basis;
  • Matching each receipt or disbursement to supporting documents; and
  • Painlessly reconciling numbers between the firm’s electronic ledger, the bank’s reported amounts, and the trust balances for each matter.

General purpose accounting can do some, but not all, of this. Maybe it could hold “audit-important” documentation and reconcile between itself and the bank, but it lacks the core tools lawyers need. In the same way firms benefit from law practice management software to keep matters organized, firms need accounting software that understands trust accounts, matters, and their unique roles in legal.

The right legal-specific accounting software alleviates much of the stress.

CosmoLex Offers the Right Trust Accounting Tools

CosmoLex’s robust, approachable trust accounting makes it easy to record and report your trust account activity properly.

Leverage Tools to Do it Right the First Time

The money-centric client and disciplinary complaints mentioned above don’t stem from attorney malfeasance. Most disciplinary complaints result not from deliberate misappropriation but from negligence. A solution, like CosmoLex, that encourages (and can compel) good recordkeeping, promotes compliance and prevents problems.

If your firm relies on a “general purpose” accounting program and a separate matter management program for case information and billing, that split introduces unnecessary complications. Using separate programs creates a gap for human error to seep in. If you maintain both an electronic and paper calendar, and they disagree, you lose time determining which is correct. Similarly, no one should play a “financial telephone” game, relaying numbers between products and hoping no errors arise.

CosmoLex provides practice management and full, general ledger accounting in one place. Manage case details, bill clients, and track and reconcile business and trust accounts in one web-based, mobile-friendly product.

Beneath that single-source umbrella, CosmoLex:

  • Collects all necessary transaction reference information in an audit-ready fashion;
  • Separates trust account money and transaction activity by matter and client, preventing commingling of different clients’ funds;
  • Supports computer-printed checks to prevent duplicative check numbers or writing checks from the wrong account;
  • Guards against overdrawing not only the overall trust account, but also overdrawing any individual matter’s trust balance;
  • Allows you to “close the books” on a matter or time period to prevent further edits or alterations; and
  • Connects to your bank or financial institution to directly import transaction data for you to review and confirm.

Quickly Run Reports to Verify Accuracy and Completeness

Meaningful, actionable reports begin with good data. Quality reports depend upon quality bookkeeping. CosmoLex produces reports that keep you informed and compliant with jurisdictional obligations. Core, insightful reports include:

  • Trust Ledger Balance Report: This report, known to Canadian practitioners as a Trust Listing, shows trust balances for each client by matter, the last date of any activity, and whether the matter is open or closed.
  • Client Trust Ledger: This report is a mini bank statement for each matter. It shows credits and debits for the matter, complete with a running balance. If you have a single matter’s funds in multiple trust accounts, it also accommodates that variation.
A picture of a client trust account ledger showing transactions and a final zero balance
  • Reconciliation Report: This report compares the bank’s ending balance to your recorded ending balance. It also reveals uncleared transactions, such as uncashed checks.
  • 3-Way Reconciliation Report: This report builds upon the reconciliation report, showing the bank’s numbers, your trust account’s overall numbers, and client ledger numbers. 3-way reconciliation reports ensure that bank totals match trust account totals and that both totals agree with what matter-level ledgers report. Auditors love this report.

Best Practices Produce the Best Results

The fundamentals drive stress-free trust accounting.

  • Run the reports monthly and act on issues. Closed matters shouldn’t have trust balances. Investigate dormant accounts and uncashed checks. Relocate unassigned funds to their proper matter.
  • Know your audit requirements.
  • Keep records, including copies of deposit slips, canceled checks, and statements, for the relevant time period.

Make accounting more effortless by doing the right thing promptly with easy access to relevant, verified financial information. CosmoLex helps your firm’s trust accounting keep the proper records, meet jurisdictional and audit requirements, and generally run smoothly. Learn more and schedule a demo at CosmoLex’s website.

More Intake, Less Headache with Smarter Staffing Solutions from Get Staffed Up

Running a small law firm is hard. Between client work, administrative tasks, and business growth efforts, managing limited time and resources can be a challenge for even the best practitioner. That’s why law firm owners are turning to Get Staffed Up. Offering remote assistants ideal for client-facing administrative tasks, Get Staffed Up (GSU) finds the fit from the top 1% of degreed, professionals from Latin America and South Africa. Since Get Staffed Up was founded by two attorneys, they understand the unique staffing needs of law firms. GSU sets its services apart with their propriety match making process.

For any lawyer, getting the phones to ring and then the phones ringing is a challenge. That is why GSU offers Marketing Assistants and Intake Specialists.

Generating Leads

The time and energy you spend practicing law is time and energy you don’t have to run and grow your business. Adding a Get Staffed Up Virtual Marketing Assistant (VMA) to your team increases your bandwidth for marketing strategies. These proactive problem-solvers provide needed support and can work on a variety of tasks to bolster your marketing campaigns.

Reaching modern audiences requires creative, tech-savvy minds thinking on your behalf. Get Staffed Up’s VMAs are equipped with a wide range of digital marketing skills, and can help with anything from sending email newsletters to managing your podcast. Other potential marketing hats include:

  • Content Creator
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Video Coordinator
  • Graphic Designer

Growing Your Firm

Even with the best marketing, a lackluster client intake process can ruin your efforts. New clients want to feel valued, without sacrificing attention to current ones. A Get Staffed Up Intake Specialist can help shoulder the burden by employing a customer-first onboarding process.

A Get Staffed Up Intake Specialist will work directly with you or your office manager, learning your existing procedures for client intake and helping streamline them. After mastering the details of your firm’s policies, they can address potential clients’ questions and concerns with a smile. Intake Specialists help with these crucial tasks:

  • Screen out bad prospects
  • Retrieve medical records
  • Refer incorrect prospects to your referrals and keep track
  • Keep your referral partners updated on matters they’ve sent you
  • Set paid consultations and take the money
  • Follow up with all prospects who are a great fit
  • Prep for each consultation
  • Keep track of all calls and prospects in the CRM

Confidently Delegate to Top Talent

Modern remote and hybrid work models allow you to hire diverse, qualified candidates wherever they are. Get Staffed Up makes the process even easier, bringing you top talent from around the world while managing HR and payroll for your virtual positions. Their meticulous vetting process identifies important qualities that ensure these professionals exceed expectations.

Get Staffed Up focuses on specialization in their recruitment strategy. Each assistant comes to you with a deep knowledge of their job responsibilities. As a result, you receive the highest quality candidates, dedicated exclusively to your firm and working the same hours as everyone else.

Get Back to What Matters

Get Staffed Up brings top talent to your doorstep and alleviates added stress on your firm. With their legal-specific Marketing Assistant and Intake Specialist positions, they have made it easier than ever to acquire and impress new clients. Learn more about what Get Staffed Up can do for you by going to the Get Staffed Up Website. See why customers call Get Staffed Up a “game changer” for their firms.

 

Call for Nominations: 2024 Best Law Firm Websites

Nominations are now open for the 2024 Lawyerist Best Law Firm Website Contest!

This annual contest showcases small and solo law firms that demonstrate excellence in legal website design. Past winners have gone above and beyond with their websites, creating an exceptional user experience and attracting new clients. They also serve as a valuable platform to educate and inspire, communicate with current clients, and grow their brand.

So, how does it work?

We encourage our community to nominate eye-catching, innovative legal websites that stand out amongst the crowd. Multiple submissions from the same person are welcome. We just ask that you nominate your website only once. Nominations will close on Friday, February 9, 2024.

Websites are assessed based on four main categories:

  • Functionality – Easy navigation, search feature, mobile-friendly.
  • Accessibility – Alt text, headers, keyboard interaction, media alternatives.
  • Marketing – Aesthetics, content marketing, images/video.
  • Technical – SEO, page load time, scroll time.

Judges will use these categories as they fill out the grading rubric. Websites with the highest average score win.

Contest Rules

Read these rules before submitting your nominations:

  1. The website must reflect a small or solo law firm (firms of 15 lawyers or fewer).
  2. Past Lawyerist Best Law Firm Website winners are ineligible to win.
  3. Websites that don’t align with the above grading categories will be omitted.
  4. If you submit your website multiple times, we have the right to omit your submission.
  5. If the website has a low GTmetrix score, it will automatically be omitted from the competition.

Are you looking to spruce up your website?

Are you looking to spruce up your website? Take a look at the 2023 Best Law Firm Website winners to find inspiration. Or, check out our Guide to Law Firm Website Design to learn how to enhance your website and drive traffic to your page.

FirmPilot Pioneers a New Era in Legal Marketing with AI

If you have engaged a “law firm marketing agency,” you know that phrase can encompass everything from defining your firm vision and ideal client, to font and logos, to the technical mechanics of website building and ad buying. Maybe you’ve felt that the end goal—more prospects and, ultimately, more clients and more revenue, gets lost in the shuffle.

FirmPilot understands that feeling and has “flipped the script” on law firm digital marketing. They start with data instead of design.  By synthesizing data and marketing, FirmPilot provides law firms two benefits: hard numbers that give you a framework for decision-making and the ability to  turn reams of facts and figures into actionable marketing intelligence.

FirmPilot’s AI and Marketing

One AI strength lies in data analysis and summary. FirmPilot takes advantage of AI’s data audit and summary capabilities to analyze your competitors and automatically improve your firm’s marketing to attract clients. Traditional marketing firms rely on basic tactics, gut feelings, and many “manual adjustments” to tweak marketing campaigns. In contrast , FirmPilot uses cutting-edge AI to automate law firm marketing.

FirmPilot’s decision engine, which can modify search engine optimization (SEO) keywords, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media ads, and more, synthesizes two valuable data sources. FirmPilot not only looks at your own marketing data, it also looks at your top competitors’ data. The combined sources drive FirmPilot’s software to predict and deploy effective marketing to reach your ideal client. That data-driven, predictive algorithm is FirmPilot’s “secret sauce.” Instead of simply writing a website post, publishing it, and hoping for the best, FirmPilot precisely targets prospective clients with the highest conversion likelihood.

How FirmPilot Produces Results

Your existing client data powers FirmPilot’s AI. Think about what you know about your past and present client population. You know where they live, what concern brought them to you, the resolution they sought, and the resolution they got. Depending on the practice area, you may have insightful demographic data—married or single, number of children, financial well-being, etc. FirmPilot relies on this sort of data to profile and identify ideal, high-value clients.

Once FirmPilot’s software knows who it’s trying to find, the AI then reverse engineers where these lucrative prospects are searching online by studying the content and keywords of competitor law firms already attracting them. FirmPilot algorithms then suggest website edits, content optimization, and other steps you can take so that your firm appears prominently in search results when these would-be clients perform a web search.

These three legs of the stool—your data, FirmPilot’s intelligent recommendations, and the results they produce, work as a continuously improving system. The client-result data from your first set of changes informs future changes and so on. The AI makes ever-better recommendations by learning which content and tactics performed best. As you use it, FirmPilot constantly refines as retargets so that, over time, its lead generation delivers for your most profitable segments. Ultimately, FirmPilot’s AI-powered marketing engine starts with your existing client data and, through a series of finely-tuned iterations, attracts and converts prospects that drive law firm growth.

A New Marketing Approach to Law Firms

Many people think that marketing is all hunches and instinct, and there’s certainly some of that, particularly with visuals and word choice. But there’s plenty of data too, more now than ever before. Data tells marketers to air commercials for “product A” during evening news programs and “product B” during college football games. Data ties your web search for a product to the subsequent ads you see for that product, its accessories, and its competitors. FirmPilot’s technology marries sophisticated, AI-powered analysis to the needs of your firm’s marketing.

FirmPilot’s AI creates and optimizes marketing assets to achieve profitable results. Furthermore, its performance tracking mechanism, powered by continuous results analysis, gives unmatched visibility into the return on investment that FirmPilot brings to your firm.

Visit FirmPilot’s website to learn how modern, data-driven AI marketing benefits your firm.

Understanding Local Services Ads for Lawyers with Postali

Google launched Local Services Ads (LSA) in 2015, starting with home services-type businesses. Google made LSAs available to attorneys in 2021. Jim Christy, President of Postali, spoke with Zack Glaser, Legal Tech Advisor, about how law firms can use LSAs and their potential rewards and risks. 

LSA Primer 

LSAs differ from Google’s primary advertising tool, pay-per-click (PPC), in two ways. First, instead of displaying in line with organic search results, LSAs display above the traditional results list. LSAs are prominently set apart. Second, Google prices LSAs on a “pay-per-lead” model. 

Under a PPC model, which Google still offers and should have a place in firm advertising budgets, clicking the ad costs money, irrespective of what the user does afterward. Clicking the ad and closing the browser tab costs the same as a user clicking the link, spending an hour on the attorney’s landing page, and completing a contact form. 

The LSA model is different. Google does not charge the advertising attorney merely because a user clicked on the LSA. The user must contact the law firm. Only a successful connection costs money. 

Making LSAs Successful for Your Firm 

The LSA algorithm also differs from PPC in how Google chooses which LSA to display for a search. With PPC advertising, prominence flows from spending. Paying more puts the firm’s ad higher. In contrast, Google selects LSAs based on many factors, including user (i.e., star) ratings. A firm must have a particular number of Google reviews to be eligible for LSA inclusion (Google requires up to 5 reviews depending on profession & practice area). Beyond that, location, business hours, responsiveness, profile quality, and, of course, marketing budget, play a roll in an individual firm’s LSA ranking.

Pay Only for Leads, Not Clicks 

Google charges firms for contacts, not clicks. When configuring its LSA profile, the firm sets practice areas and geographies. If a user reaches out through the LSA but doesn’t match your practice area and geography, the firm can dispute the charge with Google and seek a refund. 

Unlike PPC ads, Google offers limited specificity concerning practice areas and keyword matching. Jim gave the example of a personal injury firm that only represents wrongful death matters. While PPC ads could tightly target this niche, LSAs could run too broadly (e.g., all personal injury searches). 

With LSAs, a firm may get calls that aren’t disputable but not a great fit, so they might pay the higher LSA cost. With PPC, Google charges the firm for every click, but the ad may get more desired exposure because of the additional specificity and targeting tools PPC has. 

Costs of LSAs 

When LSAs initially launched for attorneys, ad prices were relatively inexpensive and predictable. Both benefits are fading. For example, some specific personal injury locations, LSA prices have climbed 300% since 2021. In some categories, the return-on-investment of PPC ads may now exceed that of LSAs, even though LSAs promise higher quality leads. 

Using LSAs as a DIYer 

While Jim encourages firms to engage professional assistance when running PPC ad campaigns, LSAs are something a solo or small firm can experiment with on their own. For the inspired DIYers, Google’s LSA profile provides three tools. 

  • Category: The firm tells Google its areas of practice. Family law is a category, for example. The firm must have at least one category and can have more than one. Google also permits excluding categories, mediation, for example. That’s about the extent of LSA granularity. An attorney could seek auto accident injuries, but if the firm specialized in auto accident head injuries, LSAs could not be that specific. 
  • Budget: The firm must set its LSA budget weekly; that’s the only option. Google presents two options: Maximize Leads and Manually Set a Max Bid. Setting the budget to Maximize means the campaign uses the current market rate for that LSA placement to serve the LSA to the most viable users at the most viable time to optimize for getting leads. Setting the budget to Manual means that the firm controls the amount they are willing to spend per week, the price is still as variable as with Maximize, but fewer or no users may see it due to the price cap. 
  • Geography: This option controls who sees the ad based on a user’s state, county, city, or ZIP code. Users see LSAs based on their location when searching, so it’s possible firms may receive “out of area” contacts (e.g., if someone searches while at work versus home). 

Getting Started 

Jim advises that LSAs involve some strategy, and he’s happy to discuss strategy with you. Once the firm decides on a direction, “pulling the levers” is much simpler than Google’s PPC tools. The LSA area of Google search results is prime real estate. If you have not set up Local Services Ads yet, Jim encourages you to do so, even if you don’t intend to run ads immediately. 

To learn more about Postali and why you should use LSAs, visit their blog

Automate Beyond Algorithms with PatternBuilder MAX

While ChatGPT and other “consumer grade” generative AI tools fail to meet the needs of legal users, AI still plays a powerful time-saving role in law firm workflows. AI represents a tremendous opportunity for legal professionals to scale up their work. 

Scott Kelly, senior manager at NetDocuments, spoke with Zack about PatternBuilder MAX, NetDocuments’ first product in its ndMAX suite of generative AI tools. According to Scott, the purpose of PatternBuilder MAX is to take generative AI and build a “fit to purpose tool for legal.” 

Secure AI for Law Firms 

Hosted on Microsoft’s Azure platform, PatternBuilder MAX respects data privacy and meets compliance requirements like data sovereignty and GDPR. PatternBuilder MAX then builds upon this “standard issue” NetDocuments security with AI-specific protections. 

  • No company uses data entered into PatternBuilder MAX to train an AI model; 
  • Microsoft employees do not monitor and cannot access PatternBuilder MAX data; and 
  • PatternBuilder MAX enforces a zero-day retention policy on any information entered into it. 

For these AI actions, no data enters the public sphere. The team designed PatternBuilder MAX to put the needs of legal professionals first. 

Time-Saving AI for Law Firms 

Having established PatternBuilder MAX’s security bona fides, Scott walked Zack through a real-world scenario where PatternBuilder MAX saves a legal user an impressive amount of time. Even simple use cases bring tremendous value when pairing generative AI with your documents. 

AI summarizes a deposition. 

Scott played the role of a firm associate who called to prepare a deposition summary memo. Traditionally, this task required reading hundreds of pages and manually extracting key data points and facts. The process could take weeks. 

PatternBuilder MAX’s Deposition Summarizer Studio App cuts weeks to minutes. The app replaces hours of slogging with three simple steps: 

  1. Upload the deposition from your computer or select it from within NetDocuments. 
  1. Pick how long you’d like the summary to be from a list of options. 
  1. The Deposition Summarizer app produces a summary for your review. It notes facts like the deponent and deposition date. Most importantly, and more impressively, it summarizes the deponent’s actual statements, complete with citations to the source text (e.g., page 72, lines 1-4). 

Scott demoed one deposition document, but he said you could upload an entire folder of files from your computer or point the app at a folder in NetDocuments. The Deposition Summarizer would do each deposition in the folder. 

PatternBuilder MAX is more than a solution for a fixed set of problems.

The software market, even narrowed to legal software, overflows with vendors proclaiming new AI products and solutions. That’s part of the problem. As Scott stated, so much AI technology in legal is “just a solution.” A company creates it to meet a single identified need or a set of needs, and any customization or enhancement happens at the developer’s whim. 

PatternBuilder MAX provides pre-built apps to address common use cases, but also makes the full set of tools available to firms and departments to customize those apps to meet their specific needs and even create powerful applications of their own, all in a no-code environment.

Scott built the Deposition Summarizer app in 30 minutes. The build process is simple, much of it point-and-click. The “magic” lies in the prompt one gives the AI. Think of the prompt, in Scott’s words, “as like a set of instructions to a smart intern.” 

The tools Scott used to create his app are available to all PatternBuilder MAX customers. PatternBuilder MAX provides templates and templated apps, like the Deposition Summarizer, that you can use and modify out of the box. 

Approachable AI for Law Firms 

One of the key benefits of PatternBuilder MAX is that it enables you to securely and responsibly leverage documents your firm or department already stores in NetDocuments. If you have templates, samples, or model documents, PatternBuilder MAX can use those as guidelines for what a new document it creates should look like. This is critical to driving accuracy and ensuring outputs from AI are valuable.

Scott’s example starts with a new commercial lease agreement and asks PatternBuilder MAX to create a lease summary that follows the firm’s model lease summary. One can state the prompt PatternBuilder MAX relies upon as “do this to that.” Take the summary sample and summarize this new commercial lease, filling in the data requested in the summary with data from the new lease received. 

Much of what you’d like to automate with traditional document automation is fact-intensive, making predetermined logic extremely difficult. But you can predetermine the instructions you would give a smart human: “Here are examples from the past. Here are the new facts.” 

PatternBuilder MAX, the first of NetDocuments’ suite of ndMAX tools, lets you do “this” to “that” in every area of law. 

Getting Started with AI for Law Firms 

Visit www.netdocuments.com to learn more about ndMAX and PatternBuilder MAX – plus see nine studio apps (pre-built apps included with PatternBuilder MAX) by requesting a demo. Some of the world’s largest law firms are utilizing PatternBuilder MAX and seeing incredible results. PatternBuilder MAX is now available globally.

 

The American Legal Technology Awards Return

The American Legal Technology Awards return to Nashville, Tennessee on October 8 to honor those spearheading advances in the legal field. After receiving 190 submissions in ten categories, the 28 judges have chosen 30 finalists to celebrate at this year’s conference.

Expanded Categories Allow More Space for Industry Accolades

This year, the founders of The American Legal Technology Awards, Cat Moon, Patrick Palace, and Tom Martin, made three improvements to give the legal community the merit they deserve:

First, to honor university educators who are transforming legal instruction, organizers introduced a new “Education” category. Nominees in this category are Jonathan Askin from the Brooklyn Law School, David Colarusso from Suffolk University Law School, and Carla Reyes from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

Second, because of the volume of outstanding nominees in the Access to Justice (A2J) category last year, leaders divided this category into three subcategories: (1) Individual, (2) LegalTech, and (3) Legal Aid. This division allows more individuals to receive the accolades they deserve; each subcategory will have a winner and runner-up.

The last noteworthy change is the addition of a “Lifetime Achievement” award. Judges will bestow this award on an individual who has demonstrated a lifetime of dedication to advancing the legal field.

The complete list of finalists and categories appears below:

Award CategoryFinalists (alphabetical)
A2J: IndividualsQuinten SteenhuisNoella SudburyAlex Guirgis
AJ2: Legal Tech¡Reclamo!SixFifty
AJ2: Legal AidEveryone Legal ClinicNorth Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
CourtsInmediationJudicial Innovation FellowshipLSC’s CCDI
EducationJonathan AskinDavid ColarussoCarla Reyes
EnterpriseFree Law ProjectUnicourtWolters Kluwer ELM Solutions
IndividualMatt KerbisSandra SandovalKelly Twigger
Law DepartmentARMDiscoFarrah Pepper
Law FirmsAbogado TICArent FoxClifford Chance
StartupEstateablyRASA LegalZAF
TechnologyDisco’s CeciliaGavelGlobalNDA
Lifetime AchievementTBA
Nominees for American Legal Tech Awards

Embodying the Mission of Belonging

The theme of this year’s conference embodies the mission of The American Legal Technology Awards: belonging. This theme captures the spirit of the legal technology community. Founder Tom Martin encapsulates this theme by describing the event as “three friends coming together to throw a party.” He continues, “What sets us apart is our heart. There is something inspiring and rejuvenating about coming together as a community and belonging. When we did come together last year, it inspired me to see everyone and their energy.”

Mitch Jackson and the founders of The American Legal Technology Awards will host the “Oscars” of the legal tech field. Event sponsors include Clio, ARAG Legal Insurance, MyCase, LawPay, and GNGF.

Find more information about the Gala and purchase tickets at https://americanlegaltechnology.com/.

Omnizant Makes Quality Websites Affordable with OneFirst Legal

Legal websites run the gamut from simple “electronic business cards” to richly interactive sites. However, building the site is not enough. A website is not a Field of Dreams; it’s not enough to build it and they will come. Success means site visitors ultimately become clients.

A Website to Meet Your Goals

Building and promoting a website often seems complex, expensive, and unnecessary to firms that earn most of their business from referrals. Understandably, if the firm derives over 90% of its business from referrals, leadership hesitates to spend $1,500 per month, or more, on a website, digital marketing, or search engine optimization (SEO).

Victoria Silecchia, chief marketing officer at Omnizant, sat down with Zack to explain why all firms need a professional website and how to create one affordably. OneFirst Legal, a new division launched by Omnizant on September 1, is the key to an affordable, modern website.

Fundamentally, a firm without a website or one that puts no effort into SEO finds itself at the mercy of chance and competitors. Attorneys running referral-based practices still need a professional web presence. It need not be elaborate, but it must exist. Nor does the site and its essential marketing need to cost thousands to create or maintain.

Prospects Do Research

Even referral-based practices must consider what information prospects find online when searching for a firm or attorney. Having a website means the firm controls its image, its first touchpoint with would-be clients.

Referrals will research the firm. The question is who controls the information they see. The firm may not care about its Google Business profile or reviews, but others will.

Affordable SEO Marketing Achieves Defined Goals

In addition to the website, OneFirst Legal collaborates with the firm on what Victoria termed “branded visibility,” a targeted form of SEO.

In this context, “good SEO” is not optimizing for better Google rankings for highly desirable and expensive keyword combinations like “car accident” and “New York City.” Instead, OneFirst Legal’s branded visibility concentrates on simpler and more meaningful goals, like ensuring the firm’s site is the top hit when someone searches specifically for the firm or attorney’s name.

Without a website and absent branded visibility, the top hit for a firm or attorney is often an aggregated attorney directory showing both the firm and its competitors side-by-side. In some cases, unscrupulous law firms may bid for their competitors’ names, paying web search engines to show the result “Smith Law Firm” higher in the list than “Jones Law Firm,” even when would-be clients expressly search for “Jones Law Firm.”

While Omnizant has helped law firms with full-service digital marketing capabilities since 2006, OneFirst Legal delivers the essential website tools a firm needs at a budget-friendly price.

OneFirst Legal creates and hosts solutions for solos and small firms wanting a modern, secure, and accessibility-friendly web presence. For firms of five attorneys or fewer, OneFirst Legal charges a one-time $199 setup fee and $199 per month after that.

OneFirst Legal designs its WordPress-based templates with flexibility and modularity in mind. Victoria likens their templates to prefabricated home blueprints. The design is tested, perfected, and quickly deployable. Website “floorplans” may be similar, but customization remains key. Continuing the analogy, each firm’s site has unique paint colors, siding, landscape, and furnishings.

OneFirst Legal understands that attorneys desire speedy results with minimal meetings. A firm can go from zero to launch in under three weeks, in five simple steps:

  1. Use the self-scheduling tool on OneFirst Legal’s website to grab 15 minutes. Learn if the OneFirst Legal approach suits your firm.
  2. Complete a single enrollment form to sign up.
  3. At the kickoff call and design meeting, 3-to-5 business days after enrollment, you select the site blueprint, practice areas, colors, and images.
  4. OneFirst Legal professionals customize your chosen blueprint with layered colors, retina image-grade photos, moving elements, and text.
  5. You review the website’s first draft 3-5 business days after the kickoff meeting, make any changes, and launch.

Creating Visibility for Your Modern Site

Once launched, OneFirst Legal handles monthly updates. They continually refine Google Business Profile optimization and branded visibility SEO. They work with the firm on review generation, ongoing postings, and site maintenance. OneFirst Legal does not limit support or update time.

Getting Started

Visit http://onefirstlegal.com/getstarted to see how affordable, vibrant layouts bring legal websites to life and how versatile templates work for different practice areas.

 

Lawyerist Lab Brings Coaching Sessions to ClioCon 2023 Attendees

You aced your law exams, mastered the intricacies of legal practice, and can argue a case with finesse. But nobody told you that running a law firm would feel like navigating a maze without a map. You didn’t go to business school, and now, the complexities of managing a firm, from financial planning to marketing, leave you feeling overwhelmed and lost along the way.  

While your legal prowess is undeniable, the business side of law is a different beast altogether. This is where the transformative power of business coaching steps in, and Lawyerist has an exclusive opportunity for ClioCon 2023 attendees to experience it firsthand. 

The Power of Coaching for Business Owners

At its core, coaching is a collaborative process. It’s a partnership between the coach and the coachee, aimed at unlocking potential and driving growth.  

For law firm owners, this can translate into a multitude of benefits:

  1. Clarity: As a business owner, you are inside the bottle. And it’s hard to see the label on the bottle from inside. A coach can help you see the bigger picture, potential blind spots, and identify what is holding you back.    
  2. Plan: Coaches help owners create a plan with actionable strategies. This allows businesses to work smarter and achieve goals faster and with less friction.  
  3. Accountability: While a coach can’t do the hard work for you, they are there to help you stay on track and maintain momentum. When you veer off the path, a coach can help you quickly course correct.  
  4. Resources: Sometimes you simply lack the information or tools you need to move forward. A coach can help fill in the blanks or streamline the learning curve—no need to get bogged down researching or trying to become an expert in all parts of your business.  
  5. Confidence: As the owner, you are making decisions every day that impact your team and your business. It can be unnerving and uncertain. Too many business owners get stuck in a cycle of second guessing themselves. Working with a coach to process business decisions allows you to make better decisions and feel confident you are on the right path. 

A business coach is not just an advisor but a strategic partner in your journey towards sustained growth and success. 

Common Misconceptions About Business Coaching

As with many transformative tools, however, business coaching is often shrouded in misconceptions.

  • “It’s Just for Struggling Businesses” or “It’s Only for Startups”: Coaching isn’t a remedy for failure or just for new businesses. Businesses at all stages—including many thriving law firms—engage coaches to scale, innovate, and stay ahead of the curve. 
  • “It’s a Sign of Weakness”: Some believe that seeking a business coach implies they can’t handle their business on their own. Even the most successful entrepreneurs often have coaches to help them reach new heights. 
  • “It’s Like Therapy”: While coaching can be introspective, it’s not therapy. Business coaching is focused on actionable strategies and goal attainment rather than emotional healing. 
  • “I Don’t Have Time for Coaching”: Busy professionals might feel they can’t fit coaching into their schedules. Yet, the time spent with a coach often leads to greater overall time savings through enhanced productivity and streamlined processes. 
  • “I Can Just Read a Book Instead”: While books offer valuable insights, a business coach provides personalized guidance, accountability, and feedback that a book cannot. 
  • “It’s Too Expensive”: Think of coaching as an investment, not an expense. The ROI, in terms of growth, efficiency, and personal well-being, often far outweighs the cost. (And Lawyerist Lab is intentionally priced to be accessible to more businesses.)

If you’ve had these thoughts (or others) about business coaching in the past, maybe it’s time to give it a fresh look.

An Exclusive Opportunity at ClioCon 2023

Lawyers attending ClioCon 2023 in Nashville, TN will have a chance to experience the transformative power of coaching and engage in a complimentary coaching session with one of our amazing Lawyerist Lab business coaches. It’s not just about getting a taste of coaching; it’s about experiencing firsthand the potential shifts in perspective, strategy, and growth. 

Whether you’re a solo practitioner looking to expand, a partner in a growing firm, or simply curious about the benefits of coaching, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. See you in Nashville!

Sign up for your free business coaching session at ClioCon! 

Keep Clients Plugged-in with the Case Status App

Clients have many options for contacting their attorney: phone, email, text, client portal, and more. This situation creates more places to check, eating time and delaying responses for the firm. 

Case Status solves this problem with tools to channel client communication through a focused mobile app. How does this differ from a practice management client portal? Immensely successful client adoption. While most portals go unvisited by clients (30% usage), Cases Status firms see 80% adoption of their mobile app. 

Six Benefits of an App-Based Client Communication Tool 

Paul Bamert and Jose Figueroa outlined six challenges facing law firms and how Case Status addresses them. 

Client Portals 

Most web-based practice management systems offer a client portal, but most are web-based. In contrast, Case Status provides a native mobile app for iOS and Android, which earned a 4.9 out of 5 rating from thousands of user reviews. With a mobile app, firms meet clients where they are; 93% of the five hours a day the average person spends on a smartphone, they spend in apps. 

Offering a client portal that clients use reduces scattershot client interaction and prevents time-consuming “case update” phone calls. Additionally, Case Status integrates with many practice management vendors, providing a single source of truth for information. 

Time 

With Case Status, a firm can automate repetitive tasks and communications. Jose demonstrated how a customizable in-app experience walks clients through their matter stages. With automated triggers, the firm provides client updates in-app. This includes scheduled “no-update updates” telling the client that the matter is in process, but nothing changed recently. Background updates boost firm efficiency, with one mid-size firm saving 366 hours in nine months and decreasing related inbound phone calls by 51%. 

Client Communication 

Clients choose their preferred approach—phone, email, text, or portal—causing craziness. The average firm takes 48 to 72 hours to respond to a client’s outreach. With Cases Status, the delay drops to 6.5 hours. How? Case Status firms channel all client communication to the mobile app. Funneling allows the firm to respond faster to client requests, improve its client communications, and exceed client expectations. 

All employees can read and respond to in-app client messages and send the client files and do this in a way that syncs with the firm’s existing practice management system while providing better security than email or SMS offers. 

Language Barriers 

8-9% of people needing legal services don’t speak English. In some client communities, the number exceeds 40%. Case Status uses Google’s Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system to translate in-app messages in 138 languages. This works in both 1-to-1 messages, between a client and a firm employee, and 1-to-many, such as a templated message sent to many clients. GNMT allows an English-only attorney to read foreign language messages translated in real-time. GNMT translates both inbound and outbound messages. 

Client Satisfaction 

Law firms often guess what the client thinks. One-half of legal services providers fail to measure client satisfaction at all—the other half measure only at a matter’s conclusion. Systematizing client feedback, especially early in the representation, brings big wins in client referrals and reviews. 

With Case Status’ tools, the firm can ask the client to rate the representation on a scale of 1 to 10. Think of a bad rating as a “check engine light” for the matter. Learning of an unhappy client early gives the firm time to fix the problem. By analyzing client surveys, the firm discovers where its processes or communications failed and revises procedures to create a response playbook. For clients who rate the firm a nine or ten, that list tells the firm whom to solicit for online endorsements. 

Sustainable Growth 

A great reputation flows from providing great service. Case Status helps firms build sustainable growth by identifying happy clients, being front-of-mind with clients, and asking satisfied clients to write reviews or refer friends. Efficient communication leads to good client surveys that the firm can ask for reviews on Avvo and Google. The app also contains a referral button to send the lawyer’s electronic business card to friends and family. 

Getting Started 

If your firm wants to transform client engagement and meet clients where they are, visit www.casestatus.com to schedule a demo. 

Data Tables Make PatternBuilder Even More Versatile 

Scott Kelly, product manager at NetDocuments, sat down with Zack to discuss how PatternBuilder integrates with NetDocuments and to demonstrate a new customizable database feature called data tables. 

Scott emphasized that PatternBuilder is a toolkit for building and automating your firm’s needs. Traditionally, automation meant creating documents. Of course, PatternBuilder can do that. But it can do much more, such as collecting, storing, and manipulating data via data tables. It’s a toolkit your firm can leverage to create solutions that might otherwise require a separate product and fee. 

Watch the video below to see how PatternBuilder helps organize the data at the heart of your law firm. 

Workflow and Document Automation with PatternBuilder 

Scott gave the example of hiring an employee. When a company wants to hire a new employee, the law firm creates three documents: an employment offer, an I-9 immigration form, and a proprietary inventions agreement. Instead of doing each document manually, with a PatternBuilder app, a user walks through a custom workflow (a series of questions) and the app produces those three finished documents. 

PatternBuilder leverages its integration with NetDocuments to go beyond just offering to download final documents to your desktop. As part of the app’s workflow, PatternBuilder both creates the documents and files them within the appropriate client and matter in NetDocuments. As a result, you save time and all firm users can quickly access documents. 

Building a PatternBuilder App 

You can build workflow apps with PatternBuilder’s “no code” editor, create the questions you want, and place those fields in document templates. Question types include: 

Short textMoney
Long textDate
Number (Decimals)Time
Number (Whole)Upload image/file
Radio ButtonsRange
DropdownEmail Password
Yes/No (Boolean)Combobox
CheckboxesList Selector
Row Selector

PatternBuilder permits dynamic logic in its workflows too. This means workflow questions and the resulting final document include only relevant information. Scott’s example was the employment agreement. If a prospect were offered stock options, you would select that option in the guided interview. Only then does the app prompt the user to enter stock options information. Similarly, if the company doesn’t offer the prospect stock options, those provisions are absent from the final employment agreement. 

Use Loops to Collect Repeating Data 

Another powerful feature is loops. Think about collecting information from your clients. Sometimes you know the “maximum” amount of data there will be. For example, a person will have only one social security number. Other times, you have no idea of the maximum. How many children does a client have? How many properties does a business own? Loops exist for situations where the maximum is unknown. Scott’s example is the proprietary inventions agreement. The prospective hire may have no prior inventions, a few, or dozens. You can set up the PatternBuilder app to collect unlimited inventions. All inventions entered appear in the document. If there are no inventions, the app removes that entire section from the document. 

Additionally, all NetDocuments’ management, permissions, and version tools integrate seamlessly with PatternBuilder. Upon creating and filing the documents, the app applies the proper NetDocuments metadata and security to each. These new documents appear in relevant searches and filters without manual data entry. 

Screenshot of NetDocuments Data Tables

Sample Data Collection with Data Tables in PatternBuilder 

While documents are at the heart of PatternBuilder, the program isn’t limited to them. Data tables make collecting, storing, and using data effortless. 

Scott’s example is completing a “new real estate client” form via a PatternBuilder app. The app asks questions like in his document example above. The difference is that rather than producing documents, finishing the workflow creates both a new client and new matter in NetDocuments. 

Furthermore, collected data, like company name and address, and loops, like the client’s real properties, are stored in data tables. That information is then available for automating documents. You can create as many data tables as you like. You can edit them directly instead of through a form or interview. They hold the same question types as workflow apps described above. Finally, data tables are accessible via an open API to receive data from your law practice management system, Salesforce, and elsewhere. 

Get Started with Workflows and Apps 

Find out how PatternBuilder can replicate and automate your firm’s unique templates and processes, resulting in faster, higher-value client service by seeing a personalized demo. Book here: https://www.netdocuments.com/products/patternbuilder.  

Manage Client Travel Expenses with Uber for Attorneys in CloudLex 

CloudLex targets personal injury firms with handy features necessary for that practice area. Its focused tools set it apart in a generalist practice management market. 

Unique Tools for Unique Attorneys 

Specialty tools attract people who appreciate their focused nature, solving a finite set of problems exquisitely well. CloudLex’s distinctive approach shows in a testimonial highlighting one of its client firms. Rather than a traditional case study, Chad Sands, vice president of marketing, worked with customer Dan Schneiderman on something different. They prepared a video highlighting Dan’s personality, love of woodworking, and how he busied himself during COVID. 

Chad’s video showcases Dan in a non-traditional way, revealing two interests of his: woodworking and 3D printing. Similarly, CloudLex isn’t playing “follow the leader,” adding “kitchen sink” features, trying to be all things to all people. Instead, as Chad put it, they’ve “doubled down and are going deep in personal injury,” squarely “focused on plaintiff PI” enhancements. 

Needs of Personal Injury Firms 

Ease of use and quick access to information form the foundation of good PI firms. 

Ease-of-Use 

No one wants to spend weeks transitioning from one software product to another, building out matter-specific fields, and training staff on the new system. Thankfully, CloudLex fits the PI niche like a glove: 

  • It focuses on out-of-the-box usability. No firm employee needs weeks of training to be productive or spends hours customizing the software. 
  • CloudLex handles the firm’s onboarding and data migration. There’s no handoff to third-party consultants or burdening the customer with additional obligations. 
  • There’s no complex billing or accounting component to learn because those features are unnecessary in PI work. 
  • A timeline appears across the top of each matter page, mapping the case’s lifecycle. For example, users see essential information like the total number of days since case opening, incident date, intake date, the statute of limitations date, and other dates the firm deems valuable. 
  • The Expense Manager helps track internal costs and track client expenditures. 
  • The Settlement Calculator manages demands and offers in one place, showing attorney and plaintiff recovery for each offer and counteroffer. 
  • Quick Links allow users to move swiftly between events, tasks, contacts, notes, and photos. 
  • The global sidebar offers speedy access to searching, text messaging-like connections to clients and staff, notes, and emails. It also houses CloudLex’s newest tool, Uber for Attorneys. 

Uber for Attorneys: Adding a New Tool to the Repertoire 

Being “100% dedicated to plaintiff PI” means solving problems that don’t arise in firms focused on other practice areas. 

Sudden and unexpected mobility impairments are a client experience uniquely tied to personal injury. For example, an automobile accident might eliminate a person’s mode of transportation. An injury could prevent one from safely operating a motor vehicle or comfortably navigating public transit, if available. Clients still have appointments with doctors, attorneys, courts, and others. 

CloudLex built a tight integration with Uber into its practice management product for that reason, to help personal injury attorneys serve a need particular to their clients. 

The Firm-side Experience 

Without leaving CloudLex, an attorney can order an Uber ride for a client, with all the options one expects from Uber. Opening Uber for Attorneys reveals three tabs: 

  • Address Book: The address book holds Uber pickup and drop-off locations, including user-saved, frequently used addresses. 
  • My Trips: This tab tracks past, ongoing, and upcoming Uber rides. 
  • Book a Trip: This tab contains the heart of the new functionality. Here a user can: 
    • Tie a ride to a matter or an intake; 
    • Enter a party or contact for pickup; 
    • Enter the reason for the ride, which later appears on invoices and trip history; 
    • Enter a pickup address manually (which can be saved to the address book), select one from the address book, or from frequently used prior locations; 
    • Select a ride type; and 
    • Request a ride either immediately or scheduled for later. 

Once the ride is requested and accepted, the firm receives a notification in CloudLex and can follow the ride’s progress under My Trips, including complete driver information as in native Uber apps. 

The Client-side Experience 

After the firm requests a ride, the client receives a web link via text message. Clicking that link opens the native Uber app on the client’s smartphone, allowing the client to track the ride as if they’d ordered it themselves. When completed, the ride is saved in the history section of the client’s Uber app with a $0.00 charge. 

A Complete Integration for a Complete Experience 

When Chad says, “Everything we do is catered to [personal injury-]specific areas of practice,” he means delivering these robust experiences to solve problems that PI attorneys face. With Uber for Attorneys, the firm maintains one place to request and track rides, view receipts, and record expenses against matters. Clients get seamless access to needed transportation in the familiar Uber app, with their costs covered. Uber for Attorneys brings technology and automation to serve attorney and client needs simultaneously. 

Watch Chad and Zack discuss CloudLex’s PI-focused tools, and Uber for Attorneys in particular, in the video below. 

A Unique View of PI Attorneys 

Additionally, CloudLex is creating a new publication highlighting personal injury attorneys. This periodical, The Trial Lawyer’s Journal, is dedicated to the “idea of celebrating justice.” It focuses on the lives and day-to-day business of attorneys working on personal injury cases. TLJ will examine work-life balance and give readers a glimpse into the community of PI attorneys. 

CloudLex plans to release the first volume this summer, with over 130 pages, featuring incredible artists, photographers, and in-depth interviews. Grab a preview edition today on their website at https://www.cloudlex.com/tlj

Track and Bill Time with New LawPay Pro

It’s easy to assume that a company we’ve known for years does only that thing we first knew them for. Attorneys know LawPay as the preeminent payment processor for law firms. LawPay is expanding its offerings to include invoicing, trust accounting, time tracking, and expense tracking.

These new LawPay Pro features will “round out your billing management,” according to Leiasa Horanic, senior product manager at AffiniPay. LawPay continues to offer the features you know and love. The added tools of LawPay Pro put more relevant information and actions in one place.

Invoicing

LawPay Pro expands on the existing “Quick Bill” feature with the ability to create invoices with individual line items in five easy steps:

  1. Select a contact to receive the bill or create a new contact directly from the invoicing screen.
  2. Optionally, select a case to attach to the invoice. You can invoice without adding cases.
  3. Select the bank account you want the funds deposited into.
  4. Set the payment terms and due date.
  5. Add line items to the invoice. Each line item has seven fields:
    • a) type of entry, which can be a time entry, expense, or flat fee amount;
    • b) the date for that item;
    • c) activity type, chosen from a customizable list;
    • d) note or description;
    • e) the hourly or flat rate;
    • f) the quantity, such as the number of hours; and
    • g) whether the item is non-billable.

Saving the invoice creates a draft for the user to preview and then send to the contact. The invoice includes payment options the firm makes available in LawPay. The firm can set the default text for the message accompanying the invoice, which users can edit on a per-message basis.

The contact receives the invoice via email, with a PDF version attached, and can click a “pay now” button or pay by scanning a QR code. Clicking the email link or scanning the QR code takes the contact to the payment page for that specific invoice rather than the firm’s “generic” LawPay page, saving the firm additional tracking and reconciliation work.

Finally, LawPay Pro allows firms to record payments on behalf of contacts, like when a client calls with a credit card to pay an invoice. LawPay notes how each invoice is paid, so the firm can look back and see which clients pay by which method. And, of course, invoices can be paid from a trust account.

Trust Requests

With LawPay Pro, the firm can issue new trust requests and trust replenishment requests. When making a trust request, the user answers six questions:

  1. Select a contact to receive the trust request.
  2. Enter the amount requested.
  3. Enter a due date.
  4. Select a trust account to receive the deposited funds.
  5. Optionally, allocate the received funds to a particular case.
  6. Enter the email text to accompany the request. The firm can set default text.

From the client’s perspective, the experience upon receiving the trust request is similar to receiving an invoice.

The Billing tab is the central place to track the statuses of invoices and trust requests. Users can see whether the recipient has viewed the invoice or trust request email. Each invoice and trust request has a complete history of when it was created, sent to the client, paid, and by what method.

Time and Expense Tracking

Entering the Time and Expenses

LawPay Pro includes time and expense tracking, so users can enter events and record expenses as they occur. At month’s end, the firm can generate an itemized invoice for the contact.

Expense entry is handled similarly to time entry, except users can attach receipts to expenses. At any point, one can go to the Billing tab and select Time Entries or Expenses to see all open and invoiced time entries or expenses.

Invoicing from Recorded Time and Expense Entries

At billing time, go to the Billing tab, then Invoices, and click Create Invoice. LawPay Pro prompts the user to select a contact and then a case. Once the user selects a case, all non-invoiced entries, both for time and expenses, associated with that case appear as “pre-filled” line items. The user can change any line item or add items not previously entered. Finally, the user can include a discount, either by dollars or percent, off the invoice.

More “It’d Be Great If” Features

For current LawPay firms, Pro is a superset of the existing product. In addition to the new billing tools, LawPay Pro enhanced the payments, contacts, and reporting features.

Payments

LawPay Pro’s Payments tab contains a running list of all transactions. Users can filter by bank account, both operating and trust accounts, see open invoices and trust requests on a per-client basis, and collect payments from clients who phone in credit cards or who use offline payments.

Contacts

The Contacts tab benefits from the added invoicing features of LawPay Pro. Contacts can link to cases for basic tracking cases associated with a given contact. Time tracking also benefits from this linkage since most lawyers think of entering time for a case rather than a contact, especially for any having two or more cases. The contact’s billing tab is the gem. It displays a contact’s entire trust history, trust requests, invoices, trust allocations, and scheduled automatic payments in one place.

Reports

LawPay Pro builds on LawPay’s current reporting infrastructure. New or improved reports for Pro include:

  • an aging invoice report showing overdue invoices;
  • an accounts receivable report;
  • a monthly transactions summary;
  • a trust account summary;
  • a trust account activity report; and
  • a user time entry report.

See It All on the Dashboard

LawPay Pro’s dashboard, available on the Home tab, pulls everything together and gives users an overview of the firm. This one-stop-show shows key firm metrics regarding invoices, transactions, and time entries. To learn more about LawPay Pro, visit lawpay.com/introducing-lawpay-pro.

LawPay Pro Demo

TimeSolv Enhances Profitability with Advanced Features in the Cloud

TimeSolv is a web-based legal billing solution, backed by 20 years of experience, focused on doing it right. As CEO Raza Hasan explains, TimeSolv is “selling a solution for a law firm to get paid more, to get paid faster, and make it easy for them to get this done.”

TimeSolv approaches invoicing with three specific goals, and the technology and automation to make them happen. TimeSolv defines success as maximizing the “three pillars of profitability”:

  1. Increased revenue to the firm;
  2. The firm getting paid faster; and
  3. Easy-to-use software, making 1 and 2 possible.

Increased Revenue

Increasing revenue need not mean working more hours. TimeSolv equips firm leaders with tools to motivate employees under five principles:

Awareness

Managers can set goals and targets for each employee and track those targets daily, weekly, and monthly. Targets include measures like total hours worked, billable hours worked, and average hourly rate.

Controls are highly granular. For example, a team member could see the number of hours he’s entered, but not the total billable value of the hours, because he has permission to see hours but not the billing rate.

TimeSolv Dashboard Screenshot

Incentives

TimeSolv possesses robust incentive management, a godsend feature for firms with complex origination and crediting structures. Its fee allocation and commission calculation are second-to-none. One can credit an originating attorney, responsible attorney, supervisors, and working attorneys.

Such capable incentive management, like split origination, is rare. It’s a hefty feature for a web-based program to offer. “You don’t have to do anything extra in Excel.,” Hasan promises.

Accountability

Accountability is built into TimeSolv and is driven by something lawyers generally hate to contemplate: time entry. But, as Hasan reiterates, it’s best for firms to have a time-tracking policy and to use technology to enforce it.

Every business has an expense tracking policy. Unless it’s a solo practice, a firm member can’t spend company money without accountability. Hasan says in a law firm, time is more valuable than money “because you can never get it back.”

Have a firm-wide time entry policy and enforce it. For example, all time must be entered before leaving for the day. Or all time for the prior week must be in by 9:00 a.m. the following Monday. The firm administrator can enforce the policy and report on compliance via TimeSolv’s Missing Time report, one of many reports and dashboards available.

Happy Clients

Hasan says, “You can’t exceed expectations if you don’t set expectations.” The best way to properly set client expectations is to tell them what will happen, in what order, when, and for how much.

TimeSolv provides a powerful planning tool called Legal Project Management to set out the actions or events in a matter, their order, the responsible individual, and a budget for each action. It’s connected to the matter billing and, if desired, to TimeSolv’s client portal, so the client can view case progress in real-time.

Permitted users see what tasks or stages are complete and whether, down to individual tasks, things are on budget.

Knowing Your Strengths (or Flat Fee Billing)

After a few months of using TimeSolv’s features and reporting, the firm can see results. Robust reporting presents a unified picture of what work the firm completes most profitably. Knowing those strengths can inform marketing strategies. Firms gain abundant clarity through project management and tracking over time.

Get Paid Faster

TimeSolv’s Zero AR eliminates the tedium and aggravation of invoicing with three simple steps.

Automatic Payment Authorization

When signing a client to a new engagement, TimeSolv sends the client a letter (or email) offering to set the client up on automatic payments via a credit card or bank account.

Automatic Emails

Then, when the firm creates an invoice for a client who authorized automatic payments, the client is emailed the invoice. That email also says that the “on-file” payment method will be billed automatically within five days unless the client objects. The client receives another email when the automatic payment is charged.

Review

The system above quickly tells the firm which matters or clients have a dispute or something to discuss.

With many other invoicing systems, there’s often a three-month delay between attorney work and receiving payment.

TimeSolv’s Zero AR reduces the process to five weeks. The attorney records work in month one. That work is invoiced in the early days of month two and paid within five days of invoicing. Zero AR removes a minimum of a month from the invoicing cycle, eliminates payment receipt and recordation headaches. It makes it easy for clients to pay, and alerts firms early to possible “problem” clients.

Efficient Software

Collecting good data to make informed decisions requires the firm to have systems and software that make things like time entry compliance, budgeting, and reporting easy and efficient. TimeSolv lives at this nexus. And, while TimeSolv began life in 1999 as a desktop-based time tracking and invoicing program, it was rebuilt as a web-based app seven years ago, adding many practice management features to its arsenal, such as:

  • Microsoft 365 connectivity;
  • Document storage, both natively and via integrations;
  • eSignature capabilities;
  • CRM features via a partner company in the ProfitSolv family;
  • Document automation;
  • Conflict checking; and
  • Task management.

Experience and Nimbleness

TimeSolv is a fast and feature-rich web application well-served by a 20-year heritage in the legal market. It addresses complex feature needs like split-billing and split-origination that many programs lack. In addition, TimeSolv is the only online product that automatically converts data from TimeSlips, PCLaw, and Tab3, giving users complete access to historical billing information.TimeSolv remains focused on helping lawyers make themselves more profitable. Start a free trial today at timesolv.com/start-now.

TimeSolv Product Demo

Check out Zack’s demo with TimeSolv’s CEO Raza Hasan to learn more about how TimeSolv can increase profitability.

 

Postali Distinguishes Law Firms Through Branding

Great brands produce an immediate, visceral feeling. If you see the Apple, Coke, McDonald’s, or Nike logo, you know what it is and have an instantaneous association with it. Apple makes high-end digital devices. Coke makes soda. McDonald’s is fast food. Nike is athletic performance. You can dispute those descriptions, but there’s a shared understanding of what the company makes and who its target market is. That’s branding.

Most law firm branding is vague. With 1.3 million attorneys in America, it’s difficult for a firm to stand out in a saturated market. Postali helps your firm get noticed by the right clients.

Law Firm Branding Guide

Postali is a digital marketing agency working exclusively with law firms. Unlike many digital marketers, Postali doesn’t start the conversation with a sales pitch about SEO or website design, although they offer both.

Postali begins by working with the firm to define its brand. That process culminates in a branding guide, whose principles and specifications govern how the firm presents itself internally and externally. Postali’s branding guide engagement distills the amorphous concept of branding into two concrete products: written assets and visual assets.

Written Assets

While logos, colors, and fonts—visual assets—are obvious public expressions of a brand, those visual assets draw inspiration from something. FedEx’s logo has an arrow between “E” and “x” because FedEx believes its mission is to ship packages that absolutely, positively have to be there overnight. The “smiley arrow” on Amazon boxes reinforces its mission as a store selling everything from A to Z. Visual assets flow from an understanding of the business.

That’s why Postali starts by fashioning five written assets. These serve as the firm’s compass for decision-making and the lodestar for creating visual assets. Written assets include:

1) Target Audience: Define the firm’s ideal clients by demographics and behaviors. Knowing this target group affects the “where,” “when,” and “how” of marketing. It also helps with client intake and identifying who would be a good client once they first “touch” the firm. Understand who the firm aims to attract.

Sam Ballinger, Postali’s design director, offered an example: “Our ideal clients are well-informed and typically do their own research before making the decision to hire us.” The demographic is “well-informed,” and the key behavior is “do their own research.” 

So, what does that mean? If they do their own research, the firm’s materials should emphasize substance and details. They should downplay background explanations or “fluff” because well-informed people have already researched the basics.

2) Position Statement: A good position statement contains three elements: (a) it tells what the product is, (b) who the product is for, and (c) why one should use the product. Sam’s example: “We are pioneers in the field of nonprofit law…[for] cause conscious clients…[to] support, guide and execute their realization.”

The product is the firm’s services, but uniquely presented—the attorneys are not simply “attorneys” or “nonprofit attorneys,” but “pioneers in the field.” The product isn’t for every nonprofit, but for “cause-conscious clients.” The firm doesn’t merely meet a need, but “support(s), guide(s), and execute(s)” the client’s vision.

Sam encourages active, vibrant language that resonates with the firm internally and clients externally.

3) Mission Statement: This is an easily communicated and easily understood expression of the firm’s purpose. Sam’s example: “To use the law to stand up for our clients, be the voice for their children, and offer families a brighter future.”

A mission statement serves as the firm’s North Star. Every business decision should support, or at least not impinge on the mission. Does a prospective hire impress in the interview that bettering children and families motivates them? What sponsorship or community service opportunities introduce the firm to its target audience while improving families?

4) Core Values: These should not enumerate all the firm’s favorable characteristics. Instead, core values should examine what is foundational and fundamental. Core values should feel cohesive with the other written assets. What values are shared by the team and, ideally, with clients? Core values could be simple virtues like honesty and teamwork. The firm’s personality or mission may warrant pithy, action-oriented values like “be heroic.”

5) Value Proposition: A firm’s value proposition is the above-the-fold headline or news story lede. Why should the buyer pick this firm? Brevity is key. Spark enough interest in the prospect for them to take the next step.

Sam’s example is a personal injury firm advertising “a painless way to get legal help.” The proposition’s flexibility allows the sufferer to imagine many forms of painlessness, such as a painless intake process or a painless customer experience. A powerful proposition says a lot in a few words.

Visual Assets

Postali’s branding guide comprises three visual assets: a logo, color palette, and font families.

While the logo is inherently individualistic, Sam offers guidance on colors and fonts. A firm’s color palette consists of four to six colors. Each serves a primary or secondary role (e.g., title versus headings or body text). Font choices may be traditional or modern, depending on the firm’s personality and target market. Sometimes, Postali mixes traditional and modern fonts to reflect a long-established firm offering novel solutions.

The Process

Postali divides the creative process into four stages. First, clients complete a questionnaire to help Postali understand the firm’s personality and the “why now” of wanting to brand. Second, Postali’s creative team and the firm hold a discovery call, with the questionnaire guiding the discussion. Third, Postali refines agreed themes. Fourth, Postali produces draft is written and visual assets, which undergo client consultations and revisions before culminating in a finished branding guide.

The Take-Away

The branding guide is the firm’s to keep. Postali provides the whole panoply of digital marketing services, but there’s no obligation to contract for those services as part of producing a branding guide. Once created, a firm can use its branding guide internally to create its own website, messaging, and marketing content.

Lawyerist Interview with Postali

Supercharge Intake with Setmore, LEX Reception, and LawPay

Many lawyers begin their firm automation processes at client intake. This is generally a good idea. Yet, fully streamlining the myriad interactions can seem impossible. Firms need to account for preferred timing, methods, and comfort levels of communication on the part of the clients. They also need to allow for adjustments and even errors.

Setmore is a robust calendaring and appointment scheduling system for lawyers. It can give clients access to self-scheduling—or not. Further, it allows attorneys to maintain complete control over their calendars through their preferences, settings, and integrations. LEX Reception users get access to Setmore Pro as part of their account, but anyone can set up a free account at Setmore.com.

Setmore Features for Law Firms

Setmore is a legal-specific calendaring platform from the AnywhereWorks team. AnywhereWorks makes LEX Reception, Teleport, and other apps that give lawyers the freedom to run their firms free from geographical constraints. It offers appointment scheduling, client management, payment processing, and integrations with leading legal technology providers.

Appointment Scheduling

Managing a law firm’s multiple calendars is tough enough without input from clients and potential new clients. Yet, clients and other third parties are beginning to expect a certain level of interactivity with the appointment scheduling process. Setmore accounts for this freedom while still allowing a firm to maintain control of its time and attention.

As one can see on their website or in the demo video below, the main feature of Setmore is the public-facing scheduling app. Users—usually clients—can browse scheduling options and availability on their own time using their computer or mobile device. They can then select and schedule appointments without interacting with someone at the firm.

This app exists on the firm’s Setmore page and can be sent to clients via email, text message, or any other method of sending a URL. Equally important, firms can embed the page on their website or even add a QR code to business cards. 

Calendar Management

This much client access to a law firm’s calendar can be uncomfortable. Accordingly, Setmore gives users ample control over their availability with different types of appointments, hour and day restrictions, and buffer periods based on appointment type. The platform also builds reminders into the system and has a two-way sync with Google and Microsoft calendars. This means firms can set it and forget it rather than constantly stressing over appointments.

In addition to the high level of control over individual calendars, the app can be set up for every team member. These members can set individual restrictions and the firm can manage multiple calendars at the same time. Clients can even select specific users to meet with or change team members based on their availability.

Client Management

In addition to appointment scheduling, Setmore helps users track information about their clients. It can track information like name, email address, and phone number with ease. Additionally, users can include custom fields to track like case type, matter description, or even incident date. Setmore’s integrations with HubSpot, Salesforce, Zoho CRM, and Zapier make it easy to sync this information with already adopted CRMs. 

Payment processing

Setmore also has multiple payment processing options. Although they integrate with many non-legal platforms, their LawPay connection is the most useful for attorneys. This allows firms to accept payments for consultations, integrate initial trust account payments into the onboarding process, and more.

Integrations

As part of the AnywhereWorks family of products, Setmore integrates with products like LEX Reception, and Teleport. In addition to this, it also integrates with a host of CRMs, marketing products, website providers, and social media platforms. 

Law Firm Client Intake Tech Stack

Although Setmore can be used on its own as a law firm appointment scheduler, its best use comes as part of a tech stack. When combined with LEX Reception and LawPay, firms can integrate the management of incoming calls, appointment scheduling, and online payments. 

This means the firm’s receptionists have more capabilities. They can set appointments using the firm’s preferred method—the Setmore platform. Further, they can easily see team member availability and even take payments over the phone.

The firm’s appointment scheduler has more functionality as well. Through the integration, much of LawPay’s capabilities are embedded directly into the platform. So the office can take payments as appointments are selected. These payments are then integrated directly into the LawPay application and tracked as any other payment.

Setmore Demo with LEX Reception and LawPay

Recently, Zack sat down with Jillian, Bre, and Abby, of Setmore, LEX Reception, and LawPay to discuss how this tech stack can supercharge a law firm’s intake and client communication systems. Take a look and see how these three platforms seamlessly interact.

How to Get It

Law firms can learn more about Setmore, LEX, and LawPay, where they can get a demo, set up a free account, or dive right in with their Pro tier subscription. 

Additionally, LEX Reception users already get access to the Setmore Pro tier through their accounts. Learn more about LEX at our full review page and see what discounts Lawyerist subscribers get.

Rocket Matter Incorporates Kanban Project Management into LPMS

Rocket Matter brings an innovative tool from other industries into matter organization: the Kanban board. Kanban is a visual approach to project management that originated with Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno in the late 1940s. Now, attorneys can use it to improve matter organization with Rocket Matter.

How Kanban Works for Matter Organization 

Kanban helps attorneys quickly see matters in stages versus a staid list of dates or tasks. A Kanban board consists of several columns, each one representing a matter stage. Matters progress from left to right across the columns, moving from initial filing (or matter opening) through matter closing.

One doesn’t need a computer to use the Kanban board method. A web search for images produces tons of whiteboards with sticky notes. But Rocket Matter took the Kanban concept, and made it their own, building it into the core of matter management.

The heart of Kanban is visualizing workflow. Think about the common stages of your matters. Maybe your work consists of one or two practice areas (e.g., personal bankruptcies in one or two jurisdictions). Then, perhaps a single board for bankruptcy is appropriate. However, if your practice is family in both a litigation and mediation context, then perhaps two boards is correct. In this case, one for litigation matters and one for mediation matters. 

In the example above, the firm created boards based on matter type. The graphic shows the stages of family law matters, but clicking on the “Boards” button reveals boards for each of their matter types.

Designing a Kanban Board for a Law Firm

In designing boards, be careful to balance segmentation and overview. You want to see as many matters as reasonable while still seeing useful data. Freely experiment and revise your board structure. You’re unlikely to get it perfect the first time. And that’s ok. Just be comfortable revisiting core assumptions. One contract drafting firm originally created Kanban boards for each type of contract, resulting in an overwhelming number of boards to review. Trying to visualize their work that way produced a cluttered picture. After consulting with Rocket Matter, the firm created a single board based on common statuses of all contract types. Their revised board included columns like: 

  • New
  • Review/Draft
  • Waiting on Client
  • Waiting on Attorney
  • Approval – Client
  • Approval – Party
  • Complete

As a result, in a single board, the firm sees the stage of each matter, client’s name, primary attorney, and total number of matters in each stage. And, importantly, they see how long the matter has been in that stage.

Using Kanban to Speed Up Matters 

The Kanban board provides a picture of the “health” of the business. You can configure a time limit for how long a matter resides in a stage. The matter’s header changes color as the matter sits in that stage, aging from green (shorter than the time limit) to yellow (near the time limit) to red (over time). Visualization makes it simple to see which matter stages are bottlenecks within the firm.

Kanban for Unique Matters 

Rocket Matter’s Kanban functionality is also useful for attorneys in general practice who believe each case is truly one of a kind. For example, stages could be simple: new, to do, in progress, on hold, waiting on client, waiting on other, and complete. Or even more basic: to do, doing, and done.

Automating Kanban on Rocket Matter

In addition to a static visualization of matter status, you can link the Kanban boards to Rocket Matter’s “matter template” feature. For example, when you move a matter from mediation to pre-trial discovery, Rocket Matter can automatically prompt you to add or change matter information. Prompts can suggest that  you:

  • Add events/dates to the matter
  • Add tasks to the matter
  • Add and complete relevant custom fields
  • Add tags to the matter
  • Add people/relationships to the matter

Adding automation to Kanban boards in Rocket Matter is entirely optional, but it’s a way the system takes the burden off of the attorney to remember to do certain things when a matter reaches a new stage.

Practice Specific Automation 

Whether you automate a board or not depends on your practice areas and how you’ve organized your boards. With the bankruptcy practice example above, jurisdictions may have local rules that make adding a single set of dates or tasks to a matter inappropriate. Dates or tasks for “jurisdiction A” may be computed differently or be unnecessary in “jurisdiction B.” A single bankruptcy board can’t take those differences into consideration. Those local rule differences make a uniform automated template a poor fit. For the “many jurisdictions” bankruptcy practice, you could create “jurisdiction-unique” matter templates, but the matter template must be added to the matter manually.

However, if your bankruptcy practice covers only two jurisdictions, perhaps having two Kanban boards makes sense, even if the stages are very similar because you could use matter templates customized per board for each jurisdiction. You’ll find a strong interplay between how you organize your boards and the matter template automation appropriate to them. This is where iteration becomes fun!

Integration with Rocket Matter’s Business Intelligence Tool

In an earlier article, we discussed Rocket Matter’s powerful Business Intelligence Tool (BIT). This tool lets you build your own reports for nearly any data field in the system, whether it came with the program or you created it. All Kanban board fields are accessible to the BIT.

As an example of the BIT’s versatility, you could build a report to look at your family law Kanban board. To illustrate, the report below shows the stages of all matters where the client’s gender is female.

Get More Project Management Power with Kanban

Kanban boards give Rocket Matter users a powerful project management tool. Ultimately, project management is about business intelligence. It allows you to know where things stand, where they’re going, and spotting the problem areas and bottlenecks. Combining Kanban boards, intelligent workflow automation, and business intelligence tools offers attorneys an unparalleled view of their practice.

Rocket Matter Kanban Board Demo

Recently, Zack sat down with Rocket Matter’s Sandy Sokolin to discuss exactly what this looks like in their practice management software. Take a look at the video below to see more.

How to Get It

To learn more about Rocket Matter and it’s project management features, schedule a free demo and get a trial account at RocketMatter.com. You can also check out Case Management Tips, a free download from Rocket Matter on how to win back control in your practice.

Want to learn more about Rocket Matter’s other features? Check out our full review, where you can see a features list, other demo videos, and community comments. Remember that Lawyerist readers get a membership benefit through the review page.

 

Affinity Consulting Brings Added Expertise to the Lawyerist Community

It’s been more than a month since the news of Lawyerist joining the ranks of Affinity Consulting Group. In that time, Lawyerist has continued its mission to help solo and small law firm owners build healthier businesses. Now, the small team has increased by two.

In January, long-time Affinity staff members Danielle DavisRoe and Jeff Schoenberger transitioned to the Lawyerist team. Both former practicing attorneys, Danielle and Jeff bring a wealth of legal tech knowledge and industry insights that will benefit the Lawyerist community.

“We are excited to add Danielle and Jeff to our already deep bench of coaching expertise. Their added industry knowledge allows us to offer even more to our community,” said Stephanie Everett, Lawyerist CEO.

How Danielle Found Her Passion for Training

Senior Consultant Danielle DavisRoe had always had a dream to help small businesses succeed. But after graduating from law school in 2011, she ended up at the small two-person family law firm where she had clerked. During her four years at the firm, her ardor for practicing law never materialized. She felt burned out after only a few short years.

During that time, though, Danielle discovered she enjoyed the business side of working at a law practice. Including finding new ways to use technology and systems to improve processes and efficiency. She also discovered her love of training. “I was way more passionate about that than I was about practicing law,” she said.

So, in 2015, Danielle left practicing law behind and started at Affinity Consulting Group, joining the Document Automation team where she coded HotDocs templates. At that time, Document Automation was handling all of Affinity’s Microsoft Office and PDF training. 

“I started doing training and realized that I like that a lot more than automating documents,” Danielle said. “You could help someone. They have a better day after training because something is working better, or it’s less frustrating, or they have more time to sip their coffee because it was more efficient.”

Then, she shifted her work to management consulting with a practice analysis. With the help of interviews and surveys, this provides firms with a holistic view of their business, including what’s working and what’s not. And while the importance of document automation can’t be understated, Danielle enjoys being able to make a difference in the health of a firm more quickly.

Helping Lawyers Work Smarter, Not Harder

Danielle now focuses on creating in-depth training modules and manuals for lawyers to help them work smarter and more efficiently. Current training offerings include Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, Excel, and Teams, along with Adobe products, like Acrobat. These modules don’t just scratch the surface. They delve deep into the programs, helping lawyers use their tech to thrive.

Lawyerist community members will have the chance to work directly with Danielle during Lawyerist Lab’s March Study Group. Through hands-on instruction, attendees will learn to use Microsoft Word styles to format documents with ease. 

Bringing New Expertise and Value to the Lawyerist Community

Danielle is thrilled to join the Lawyerist team and is excited about the value her expertise will bring to Lab members. With plans to expand current training offerings, her knowledge will hugely benefit the day-to-day working lives of our community.  

Knowing that a lawyer’s value isn’t in fighting with technology, it’s in their legal expertise means Danielle has one goal. “My goal is to save people time and energy,” she said. “I don’t want people to work correctly for the sake of working correctly. I want them to use it correctly so their life is better and they’re less frustrated.”

From Helping Clients to Helping Lawyer Clients

Jeff Schoenberger never thought of legal technology as its own career path. While attending law school at the University of Virginia School, he was involved with legal clinics helping people with their legal needs. He thought this one-on-one work was what he most enjoyed. So, after graduation, he moved home to Cincinnati, working on an AmeriCorps Equal Justice Works Fellowship for the Legal Aid Society. 

Amid the Great Recession, much of his work focused on landlord-tenant issues, job losses, and foreclosure defense work. Jeff felt like he was making a difference in people’s lives, instead of standard first-year doc review and memo writing. “It was invigorating to hit the ground running because those were my cases. They were my people. If I don’t do it, no one will,” he said.

But, like many in the non-profit and legal fields, Jeff was taking home the stress of his clients at the end of the day. After three years at the Fellowship, he was ready to find a new path.

A serendipitous CLE course introduced him to Barron Henley, an Affinity Consulting Group owner, and the work of Affinity. “It never occurred to me that there was this whole sphere of lawyers and computers and people who help lawyers be better by using technology,” he said.

Jeff joined the Affinity team in 2012, working almost exclusively on legal tech related to document assembly and automation. In 2016, Affinity started providing practice management advisor (PMA) services to the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). 

He began writing articles for the ISBA through the PMA deal, helping guide Illinois lawyers in their tech decisions. With his own legal tech experience and access to Affinity’s wealth of industry tech experts, Jeff took over the program in 2019. 

“I like having the opportunity to take what I enjoy and what I know from experience and help bring that technology and efficiency to lawyers,” he said.”

Spreading the Lawyerist Healthy Firm Word

Now part of the Lawyerist team, Jeff will continue his PMA duties, but with a new twist: sharing Lawyerist’s mission and resources. “When I speak at a Bar Association event, for the most part, the folks in the audience are still solo and small firms,” he said. 

“If you’re a two-person firm and your issues are: how do I get clients, how do I manage my own time, how do I make use of a more modest technology budget for the best efficiency?” Jeff sees the potential to bridge the gap and introduce Lawyerist’s small firm-focused content to bar associations to help small law firm owners find the legal tech that best suits their needs. “It is a really good matchup,” he said. “It’s really exciting.” 

Visit Lawyerist’s About Us Page to learn more about Danielle and Jeff. If you’re ready to build a healthier, more efficient business, apply to Lawyerist Lab.

 

In this Economy? Technology for Economic Uncertainty

With the recent mass layoffs from the likes of Google, Amazon, and Twitter, it’s easy to imagine a looming (or existing) economic downturn. Some practices are relatively recession-proof. But, all firms would likely benefit from asking what they will do if the demand for legal services decreases. 

Somewhat counterintuitively, we’ve also seen a decreased appetite for outside investment in legal technology products. After a slew of acquisitions over the last few years, it appears that private investment is starting to dry up. Which makes some sense. On the whole, attorneys are likely going to spend less money in the near future. Meaning, they will likely spend less on their technology.

Yet, in order to compete in a recession, technology is just the thing lawyers should be doubling down on.

There are two ways to compete with other lawyers in an economic downturn. Lawyers either need to win the existing pool of potential new clients or expand the market they can serve. Legal technology, and technology as a whole, can help with this.

Enhancing Productivity

Most lawyers know that technology can help firms automate tasks and increase efficiency. Although they aren’t always implementing appropriate procedures, they are aware of the capabilities, nonetheless. Investing in technology that helps increase productivity lowers the cost of doing business. This, in turn, means that a law firm can either decrease its prices or increase its margins. 

Increasing Client Satisfaction

In addition to enhancing productivity, technology can help law firms increase their client satisfaction. Whether a firm attracts clients through referrals or Google reviews, happy clients generally lead to more clients. Using client relationship managers (CRMs) to track and delight current and potential new clients can easily be the edge one needs in a competitive market. 

Broadening the Market

Perhaps more subtly, technology can also help firms expand their market. No, we’re not talking about using Bankruptcy software to break into a new area of law (although that has value). Here, we mean providing value that current clients didn’t necessarily know a firm had. 

Many times, this means productizing current services, like, offering automated residential leases. This can act both as a source of a steady income and as a lead magnet. 

Other times, this can mean educating clients about what a law firm can really provide. Could a law office be a place where local businesses get together in Mastermind sessions?

No matter what approach a firm takes to prepare for economic uncertainty, one thing is clear—technology can help. We never recommend simply throwing money at software companies. But tightening the belt should not come at the expense of efficiency, productivity, or security. In fact, as one can see from above, this is the time to do more with technology, not less.

Next Steps

If you’d like to learn more about how to choose legal technology, check out our Field Guide to Buying Products and Services. There, you can learn about different types of legal tech, what they are used for, and which ones might be right for your practice.

Law Ruler Brings Softphones Directly to Your CRM

Lead management is a crucial aspect of any law firm’s operations. It helps to ensure that potential new clients (PNCs) are effectively tracked and followed up with in a timely manner. However, managing these leads can be a challenging task, especially for high volume law firms. Many law firms have turned to softphone applications for assistance. Increasingly, though, firms are finding integrated softphones to be their best bet. 

Softphones for Law Firms

Softphones, also known as “virtual phones” or “IP phones” are an alternative to traditional telephone hardware. A softphone system allows users to make and receive phone calls using their computer or mobile device. They allow lawyers to use their firm’s business number while away from their office or on the go.

Additionally, softphones can be used to integrate the functionality of a phone system directly into an application. Client relationship managers (CRM) with a built-in softphone can track and record calls, automate tasks, provide analytics, and increase productivity.This is done all within the same piece of software. Call information (duration, disposition, and participants) is stored in the same place as a PNC’s information (name, marketing sources, and case type). This makes tracking, automation, and reporting easier.

Automated Call Tracking and Management

One of the most important features of Law Ruler’s softphones is the ability to automatically track and manage all incoming and outgoing calls. Firms can assign calls to particular users and set up round-robin call distribution.  Firms can also create automations that make sure no PNC goes unnoticed. Managers see what users are doing in real time so they can more effectively distribute resources. Law Ruler’s softphones provide a complete record of all calls made to and from potential clients. This information can be used to track the progress of the lead and help identify improvements to the lead management process.

Automated Lead Management Tasks

Another key feature of Law Ruler’s softphones is the ability to automate lead management tasks. The software can automatically schedule follow-up calls and send email reminders to potential clients who have not yet responded to an initial call. This helps to ensure that leads are followed up with in a timely manner, and significantly increases the chances of converting them into clients. Law Ruler’s softphones also allow law firms to set up automated follow-up tasks. These can be customized to meet the specific needs of the firm, helping to ensure that no lead goes unresponded to.

Analytics and Reporting

Law Ruler’s softphones also offer a wide range of analytics and reporting tools that help law firms to better understand their leads. The software stores detailed information on the number and length of calls made and received, and the number of leads that have been converted into clients. This information can help identify areas where the firm can improve its lead management process. Firms can then focus on leads that have a higher likelihood of converting into clients. With Law Ruler’s softphones, law firms can access real-time data and analytics on their leads to make better-informed decisions and improve their lead conversion rate.

Direct Integration into the CRM

Law Ruler’s softphones fully integrate with a firm’s legal client relationship management software. Lawyers can manage all aspects of a case—leads, calls, tasks, and appointments— all in one place. This helps streamline the lead management process and make it more efficient.  This can save law firm’s time and resources.

Easy to Use

Law Ruler’s softphones are simple to use, and can be quickly adopted by law firms of all sizes. Accessible from any device, the software can be easily integrated with a firm’s other tools and software. With Law Ruler’s softphones, law firms can improve their lead management process without having to invest in expensive new hardware or software.

Law Ruler Softphone Demo

Recently, Zack sat down with Matthew Defrain to talk about the specifics of the Law Ruler softphones. They dig further into the automations, workflows, and general use of the Law Ruler softphones in the video below.

How to Get It

To see first-hand how Law Ruler can automate your marketing and get you more clients, schedule a free demo today! Law Ruler is much more than integrated softphones. As part of the ProfitSolv family, they can be used on their own or as part of a larger cohesive legal tech stack.