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Practice Management Software Is Now Table Stakes for Law Firms

Accounting & ReportingLaw Firm Operations
poker chips and playing cards
 
The shift to remote work and the increasingly sophisticated demands of clients have upped the ante on practice management software.
 

In poker, table stakes are the money or chips a player needs to lay on the table to be part of the game. Similarly, in a law practice, your ability to compete in legal services increasingly depends on the tools you have available to deliver excellent service to clients.

In recent years, the shift to remote work and the increasingly sophisticated demands of clients have upped the ante on practice management software. Standard practice management software features have shifted from nice to have to must-have.

The ABA 2021 Tech Report validates that idea, reporting that law firms were forced to really evaluate the necessity of the technology they use in their firm and what potential technology is missing that could be useful. Firms are facing the reality that adopting new technology might be “more of a necessity for their firm, rather than a luxury.”

 
A group of industry experts on law practice management met recently for a podcast discussion on practice management as table stakes. Above the Law hosted the discussion (download or listen here).
 

Though the participants all work for legal practice management software providers – and compete on some level – they agreed on several trends related to law firm adoption of practice management software:

  • Most firms are using some type of practice management software today. Most LPM software implementations are the result of a client decision to switch to software that better meets their needs. Legacy Software: Is it Time for Your Firm to Move On?
  • Most clients want a remote-only law firm. The client company in many cases has moved to a remote or hybrid work model. Traveling to a law office is no longer important or necessary. Clients expect law firms to be in the cloud and to have videoconferencing and other remote collaboration tools.
  • Most firms – by one account as high as 79% – store at least some firm data in the cloud. The ABA Tech Report 2021 Survey shares that cloud usage is up, with small and medium-size firms reporting the highest use at 65%.
  • Workflow features providing client intake, online payments and a portal site are valued as having a high return on investment for law firms.

Pocket Aces

A starting hand with two aces is, in most forms of poker, the best possible option. Whether your firm is moving from a server to the cloud, from a legacy practice management system to one that offers greater capability or from Outlook and Excel to your first professional practice management system, start with the best possible hand. Tomas Suros offers advice on features to look for:

  • Automation: Identify standard workstreams and information flows in your firm. Automated tasks, reminders and calendars can save time and track status of tasks. Look for dashboards and reports to give remote staff and attorneys the visibility they need with fewer meetings.
  • Payments Processing: Business clients often expect the convenience of online payments, but some firms hesitate unnecessarily. Digital payment options have been available for a long time, but they were not always cleanly integrated or easy to use. Today you’ll see payments processing fully integrated within the practice management system, quite easy to get started and very secure. With APX in AbacusNext platforms, firms are finding that turnaround times for invoicing and payment tracking are drastically shortened.

Beyond Time and Billing

Time and billing are important to firm management, but today’s practice management technology is so much more. Practice management includes every aspect of the client experience and the firm operations, from lead management and client onboarding to communications, client services and final billing.

Practice management software for law firms is moving away from a looser, less integrated set of tools to a more complete, more tightly integrated, end-to-end work environment. The team of experts agreed that this is an exciting time in legal technology, and both law firms and their clients will benefit from innovations in practice management.

Get Matched with the Best Solution for Your Firm

Your firm has unique needs. Zola Suite provides end-to-end practice management, including
matter and email management, complete billing and accounting and robust reporting that keeps you in touch with clients, projects and firm financials.

Test drive Zola Suite today – get hands-on with a free 10-day trial.

Do you prefer a guided tour? Schedule a personal demo today.

Questions? Chat with a practice management expert. Call (877) 851-2750.

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