As a solo attorney or a small law firm, you don’t always have a lot of resources at your disposal to handle casework and growing your practice. Fortunately, there are now a wide range online tools and low-cost services to help law firms automate the day-to-day mundane and tedious administrative tasks required to run a profitable firm. Often these tools and services are integrated with law practice management systems. Automating your daily administrative tasks can save you time, money and even your sanity. After all, there is only so much that one person can do alone or even a small team can handle before burnout occurs; you didn’t start your practice to get burnt out. Here are a few areas of your practice that you can easily automate:

Scheduling

You can save a lot of time by using tools to automate the scheduling of your client phone calls or in-person meetings. Instead of sending an email asking when your client is available, an online scheduling tool can sync with your calendar and show available times for client meetings.  You then send a link to your calendar tool and clients can choose a time that works for them. Once they schedule the meeting, you both will receive a confirmation email and the meeting will be locked into your calendars.  With this system, the tool can also send reminder emails that the appointment is approaching so that you don’t forget. This removes the manual process of trying to find time on your calendar and then trying to remember your appointments.

Client Interview and Intake

Instead of having to meet physically with a client, you can discuss the case over the phone and have your client fill out an online intake form. This makes it easy for your clients who may not be able to drive across town or take off from work to meeting you in person at your office. If you want to meet with them in person, you can send them a link to a secure client intake questionnaire before they meet with you so that you have preliminary information about their case before you sit down to have a discussion with them.

Often times clients will have some information available immediately, but some information they may need more time to provide to you. With an automated intake process, they can add additional case information later on at their own convenience. This information can be stored on a secure server that is encrypted.  

Collecting Payments

Instead of requiring your client to send you a check in the mail or to hand over their credit card for you to swipe, you make this process a lot simpler by collecting payments online. You can create a payment plan that automatically bills them monthly for your retainer fee or you can create a custom payment schedule for clients.

Answering Calls

To truly automate your business, you have to take yourself out of the day to day tasks such as answering all of your own phone calls. One way to do this is to hire a virtual receptionist service. It’s a great way to project a professional image of your law firm when you are a solo attorney or have a very small team. By using a virtual receptionist service, you’ll be able to make sure that your incoming calls never go unanswered and that callers are treated with a high level of professionalism. You can even choose a script for the virtual receptionist to use each time they answer a call for you. These answering services are usually offered at a lower cost than hiring an in-house receptionist.

Document Sharing

To store your digital files and scanned documents, you should use a secure platform for sharing and storage. Dropbox is a great example of a cloud document storage tool you can use. You should also make sure that your practice management software integrates seamlessly with your document sharing storage tool.

Keeping in Touch With Clients

A great way to keep in touch with past clients and to attract new ones is to start your own email newsletter. Each month you can send helpful hints and tips related to legal topics that your potential clients may find useful. This can keep you top-of-mind to past clients an potential future clients who might not need your legal services right away but who may need your services in the future. This will also allow them to refer to their friends and family since you are sending them a regular newsletter each month which they can share with other people.

You can use a free email service provider like MailChimp to help you create newsletters with ease. It can help you market your legal services and grow your client base. Make sure you choose a practice management system that integrates with other email service providers. 

Automating your law practice will save you time and money. There are so many low-cost tools to help you streamline your systems and help you become more profitable.

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