How Admin and Marketing Automation Can Increase Your Net Profit
Are you having trouble growing your firm and increasing your margins? I get calls from attorneys daily who are frustrated with their net margins, and they are all looking for some secret formula to help them break out of the hole they have been stuck in for a long time. If your firm is stuck or you are trying to increase your bottom line, there is hope. Technology is one way you can take work off your desk and spend more time on billable tasks. Take a look at the outline below and give us a call if you would like to learn more about how we can help you increase your bottom line without spending more time in the office.
Using Technology to Improve Your Net Margins
The majority of attorneys spend as little as a quarter of their working hours on billable tasks, according to a study by Clio. Solo practitioners have an even higher percentage of nonbillable time. Technology can help solve this problem. But with all of the options out there, how do you know which tasks should be automated? How can you and your firm achieve success with technology?
Using Process Mapping to Determine Which Tasks Should Be Automated
The easiest way to determine which of your frequently performed tasks can and should be automated is process mapping. Process mapping requires you to invest a small amount of time in evaluating which of your daily, weekly, and monthly processes can be boiled down into simple tasks. This will save you a significant amount of time later.
Breaking Down Tasks Through Process Mapping
Process mapping also requires you to evaluate every step you take, from the time a lead is generated to the time you close a case. Each step can be separated into tasks. Tasks can be split into three categories:
- or substantive
Repetitive Tasks – Require No Analysis or Decision-Making
Repetitive tasks are those that you do over and over again, and which don’t really involve analysis or decision-making. Since these tasks don’t require any thought processes, they can be automated easily. You can use technology to complete these repetitive tasks.
Examples of repetitive tasks include:
- Client intake
- Transfer of information
- Creation of templated documents
- Identifying case law and precedent in common case types
- Invoicing clients
- Collecting payments
Administrative Tasks – Require Minimal Analysis
Administrative tasks are a bit more complicated than repetitive tasks, but they only require minimal analysis. They don’t involve complex legal issues. And while they do require human input with minor interpretation, an assistant, such as a paralegal or legal assistant, can usually perform these tasks with little to no supervision. And in many cases, such tasks can be automated.
Examples of administrative tasks include:
- Checking existing cases relevant to your issue
- Collecting necessary documents from clients
- Reviewing information gathered from clients
- Completing legal transactions online
- Updating the client’s information
Substantive Tasks – Require Your Legal Knowledge and Make You Money
Substantive tasks are more involved than repetitive and administrative tasks. They require in-depth analysis and critical thinking. They may also need legal knowledge to be completed appropriately.
As an attorney, your time is best spent on these higher-level processes. This is why automation is so imperative to a growing firm. The more time you can spend on billable tasks (as opposed to repetitive or administrative tasks), the more revenue your firm will generate.
Examples of substantive tasks include:
- Determining the client’s legal needs
- Deciding the next steps in a case
- Analyzing which information is relevant to a case
- Discussing next steps with the client
At each step in your business process, there will be repetitive, administrative, and substantive tasks that need to be handled. Using technology throughout each stage can save you time, as well as that of of your assistants.
How to Use Technology in Your Business Process
By breaking down your process into different types of tasks, you can properly utilize technology, your assistants, and your own time throughout a case. Here’s an example of each task type throughout the legal case process.
When Beginning a Case
When you begin a case and need to gather client information, the process may involve interviewing a client as well as collecting documents. Because this is a repetitive task, much of it can be automated.
You can use software like Agile CRM or Lawmatics to obtain basic information from the client, including signatures on necessary documents. These programs can also create standard letters for engagement and obtain a retainer. Electronic data collection will also allow you to analyze information about your clients in an easy and streamlined manner.
After data has been gathered using automated systems, the next steps will likely involve some administrative tasks. These may include checking for client conflicts and making sure all key information has been gathered. An assistant or paralegal can easily take care of these tasks.
The only substantive tasks an attorney would need to complete in the initial stage of a case is determining next steps and conveying that analysis to the client. The client will want to speak with someone with legal expertise to feel secure about their case. An attorney should reserve their time for these billable tasks.
When Working on a Case
The many repetitive tasks you will encounter while a case is ongoing can be completed with automation software. For example, you can use Agile CRM to create document templates and drafts involving necessary information from the client. You can even use Case text’s CARA to obtain research and case law relevant to your case. Creating a document template with applicable case law can save hours of time for an attorney or paralegal.
Administrative tasks, such as obtaining additional information from clients, can be completed by an assistant. If you need specific samples from a client, an assistant can also perform this task.
More substantive tasks arise during the work phase than any other time in the case process. An attorney will have to review client intake information and finalize any documents containing legal information. Client communication is also a substantive task at this phase of the case since clients often need the reassurance of legal information.
When Closing a Case
Technology can also help you complete repetitive tasks when finalizing and closing out a case. Clio and MyCase can store client information as well as generate invoices. Automation software can also update clients about work and collect payment.
Any documents that need analyzing before an assistant can manage storage as an administrative task. An assistant can also handle any documents that need filing with government offices.
The only substantive task left for an attorney is the communication of next steps with the client. Drafting of final documents may also be a substantive task.
Take Work Off Your Desk and Free Up Your Time for Billable Tasks
Although many attorneys take a hands-on approach to working on a case through each of its stages, it’s just not a good use of time for a legal professional to be handling repetitive tasks. Free up your time by automating this lower-level work, and spend your energy on more substantive, billable tasks. Of course, you may need the help of an assistant to complete administrative jobs. But the bottom line is, the more work you can get off your desk and the more time you have to work on your cases, the more revenue you will be able to generate for your firm.
At James Attorney Marketing, we work with small to mid-sized firms, and we treat each client individually. We provide a custom approach to make the most of our clients’ resources and time. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your firm, schedule your appointment, now!
Looking forward to talking to you soon.