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3 workflow processes lawyers can automate

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Admit it: sometimes the practice of law can be tedious. The truth is that on a day-to-day basis, being a lawyer isn’t always nearly as glamorous as it seemed to be in the movies that lured many of us to apply to law school. Sure some parts of practicing law are exciting, but the reality is that the grunt work of law – the constant document drafting and review, combined with the monotony of repetitive tasks – can take its toll over time.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the repetition and automate the more mundane aspects of your daily routine as a lawyer. Often these tools are built into law practice management software, but you can also use standalone software. No matter how you go about it, the good news is that by streamlining your firm’s processes using readily available technology, you’ll have more time to focus on the aspects of being a lawyer that you enjoy the most. To get you started, here are 3 of the most impactful steps you can take to automate your law firm.

Automate billing and get paid more quickly

Getting paid for your work is important, but as you know, billing, invoicing, and collecting payments takes time. The more you can automate your firm’s billing processes, the more quickly you’ll reap the benefits of your hard work.

For starters, make sure to capture all of your billable time by using a time-tracking tool. Time tracking features are often built right into law practice management software and include the ability to enter your billable time using mobile devices. So no matter where you are, you can easily enter your billable time on your mobile phone immediately after appearing in court, taking a call with a client, or responding to a text. Capture your billable hours as they occur so you don’t have to re-create them from memory (or lack thereof!) at the end of the day.

Invoicing can also be streamlined, saving you both time and money. After you’ve entered billable time using your law practice management software, the billed hours will automatically be associated with the correct matter, making it a simple task to create and edit an invoice. Then send it off to your client with the click of a button, and offer multiple ways to pay the invoice, including credit card payments online. And if your client forgets to pay, quickly and easily send an invoice reminder. With all of this automation built into your firm’s payment processes, you’ll get paid before you know it!

Automate tasks and never miss a deadline

Deadlines are an inescapable fact of life in the business world. But for lawyers, a missed deadline can sometimes have major implications for a client’s case, even resulting in an outright dismissal. That’s why it’s so it’s important for lawyers to stay on top of their deadlines and tasks.

Of course tracking deadlines can, in and of itself, be a time-consuming task, which is why automating the process of creating and tracking deadlines can save you time and mental energy. Knowing that your deadlines are automatically and accurately calendared can reduce your mental load and let you focus on practicing law, rather than administrative tasks.

One of the easiest ways to automate your tasks and deadlines is to use practice management software. The days of using old school paper tickler systems will be long gone, replaced by convenient, automated workflows that you create at the start of a case that will allow you to assign tasks to your assistants and track their progress. Workflows can be created to track court and statutory deadlines by automating client intake so that task templates are automatically created for important dates that relate to specific types of cases or trials. When you customize todos at the start of each matter, you’ll rest easy knowing that you’ll never lose track of tasks and important deadlines.

Automate document assembly and free up your time

One final way to save time through automation is to streamline your firm’s document creation processes. Use document assembly tools to create templates for frequently-used documents, including intake questionnaires, engagement letters, pleadings, and more. Do a little bit of work up front to create a document template for each type of frequently-used form, and then your document automation software will do the rest, by auto-populating documents with information pulled from your law practice management software. Relevant data, such as case numbers, client information, party names, and necessary dates are automatically input right in the document, saving you time and increasing your firm’s productivity.

These are just a few ideas to get you on your way to a more streamlined, efficient law practice. Are you using any of these automation tools in your law firm? If not, why not? Start automating routine tasks today and get rid of the tedium of law practice for good!

Nicole Black will be speaking on “Practicing with the Machines” at The Future Is Now Conference on May 2. The third annual conference sponsored by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism features 10 speakers from across the country discussing the practicality of artificial intelligence, legal research algorithms, retaining diverse talent, the ethical obligations of data analytics, equal justice as a bi-partisan issue, criminal justice reform, and much more. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at VenueSix10 in Chicago. Young attorneys, there are 5 hours of CLE up for grabs, including 0.5 hours of diversity and inclusion CLE. 

This post originally appeared on the MyCase blog.

Nicole Black Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive legal practice management software for solo and small firm lawyers. She is also the author of the ABA book “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” co-authors the ABA book “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” and co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson Reuters treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology.