For the roughly 900,000 attorneys serving in firms of ten attorneys or fewer, legal technology is the great equalizer. With the right technology, firms can run more efficiently, satisfy clients better, research cases faster, stay on top of tasks, and maintain an output that keeps them competitive with larger firms.
If you want to optimize your law firm, you’ve got to start by branching out beyond awkward spreadsheets, hand-scrawled notes, and reams of paper in favor of more efficient solutions.
But there exists an incredible amount of software to choose from—so below, we’ve outlined the legal technology solutions that will keep your law firm running like a well-oiled legal machine, wherever and however you work.
Office 365: For running your office
If you’re using any technology in your law firm, it’s likely office productivity software (OPS)—ABA survey results show 99 percent of law firms are using some variety of OPS. Encompassing word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, and email, productivity suites will provide—at the bare minimum—the functionality that you need to succeed in the world of business.
After years of running locally-installed versions of Office, a number of law firms are starting to embrace Office 365. It offers the same functionality as the original suite with the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud.
Lexicata: For managing your client relationships
In this day and age, managing relationships with a growing roster of clients and prospects is more complex than just maintaining a rolodex. As a result, an increasing number of solutions are cropping up to help firms manage the client journey.
Lexicata, designed specifically for solo and small firms, simplifies the process of tracking your client from the moment you meet them to the moment you retain them. With a robust form builder, lead tracker, integrated intake, and a document and email generator, Lexicata offers everything you need to effectively manage your prospective clients. And, as a bonus, it seamlessly integrates with everyone’s favorite practice management system.
Fastcase: For legal research
Fastcase represents the latest evolution of legal research. This area has progressed from physical law libraries, to searchable central databases, to intuitive, intelligent search (think Google for case law).
With an unrivaled scope of coverage, Fastcase puts the entire national law library on your desktop. You’ll have online access to cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and bar publications, right at your fingertips. Fastcase also includes data visualization and advanced search functions to help searchers identify the most authoritative results sooner. An integration with Clio means customers can automatically track time spent on case research, capturing every billable moment. With 500,000 customers and counting, Fastcase is quickly becoming the authority on legal authority.
Hotdocs: For legal document assembly
With both cloud and desktop options, Hotdocs offers a best-in-breed document automation option for law firms of any size. Covering everything from standard correspondence to complex wills, trusts, and contracts, HotDocs dramatically reduces the time it takes to generate documents. It also improves the quality of your legal documents by reducing the likelihood of human error.
Looking for an integrated solution for document generation? Clio also offers an integrated document generation feature that creates engagement letters, contracts, and more based on Merge Fields and uploaded templates.
Logikcull: For eDiscovery
In the information age, all document discovery is now eDiscovery. From social media, to the Internet of Things, to Word documents, to email, there exists an ever-expanding world of electronic data that must be indexed, sorted, searched, and reviewed. While large platforms like Relativity exist to serve the Biglaw market, Logikcull has emerged to provide small- to medium-sized law firms with a self-service, fully automated eDiscovery platform.
With bulk document uploading, search, download, and review functionalities available from a fully cloud-based interface, small firm attorneys will be able to make the dreaded document dump a thing of the past.
ScanSnap ix500: For scanning
As much as the business world in general—and the legal world in particular—swims towards going paperless, the fact remains: Into each law firm, some paper must fall. But, your firm doesn’t have to get buried in paperwork just because someone else doesn’t share your modern ideals.
To that end, the Fujitsu ix500 scanner will help you process paper without keeping it on hand. With it, you can scan any document in high resolution wirelessly to a Mac, PC, Android, or iPhone. And, with the ScanSnap/Clio integration, you can even scan documents and file them directly to the appropriate matter, all without ever touching a single cable.
Dragon Dictate: For dictation
Is typing really the most effective means of documenting your thoughts? Signs point to no: Consider that the average person only types between 38 and 40 words per minute on a laptop or desktop computer. Typing on a smartphones or tablets, where a growing share of work is being completed, clocks in at an average of only 20 words per minute.
When speaking, however, the output of words per minute jumps significantly—the average person speaks at approximately 100-130 WPM. If you’re focused on efficiency, using digital dictation software with voice recognition is absolutely the way to go. Dragon makes one of the most sophisticated, user-friendly solutions available on the market, with options available for PC, Mac, and mobile. There’s even a package tailored specifically for law firms. Pick one up—your wrists will thank you.
Xero: For law firm accounting
You’re a lawyer, not an accountant—but in order to manage a successful business, you still need to manage your finances efficiently and effectively. The latest generation of cloud accounting solutions provides all the features of a full-time accountant at a fraction of the cost, including payments, invoicing, bank reconciliation, cash flow management, and expense claims.
Xero is no exception. The fledgling accounting startup is so user (and wallet) friendly that it’s starting to take market share away from the massive incumbent Quickbooks. Xero also integrates directly with Clio, ensuring your invoices, contacts, and payments are automatically synced to your practice management system with no duplicate entry required.
Still apprehensive about managing your accounting internally? Full-service Xero partners like Kahuna Accounting have a roster of helpful accountants and a solo and small firm pedigree to take your financial management to the next level.
Todoist: For legal task management
Using task management software is sometimes a task to manage in and of itself—but this is not the case with Todoist, a deceptively simple task planner app. With recurring tasks, subtasks, and calendaring, Todoist offers everything a law firm needs to stay on top of deadlines and requirements. And with a Gmail plugin, Chrome plugin, and mobile app, adding tasks is always just a click or a tap away.
As an added bonus, Todoist supports natural language entries (i.e., ‘Pick up dry cleaning next Monday’), meaning you won’t have to keep referring to a calendar when trying to schedule.
LawPay: For payment processing
Is your law firm still using check-based payments? Consumer behavior is tipping in favor of the convenience and speed of credit card payments. In fact, in 2016, check payments made up less than 12 percent of total non-cash payments processed in the U.S., while the number of credit card payments processed both online and in-house has grown 8 percent annually each year since 2012.
But not all payment processors are created equally—law firms in particular must remain cognizant of compliance issues around handling trust payments and fund separation.
LawPay, built specifically for the legal industry (the name is a dead giveaway), ensures you remain compliant with IOLTA guidelines and the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct. It offers payment solutions in-house, via an online portal, and through a mobile card swiper, making it effortless for clients to pay you for your hard work—all at industry-low processing rates.
LawPay also provides the functionality behind Clio Payments, the integrated payment processor built right into Clio. Using Clio Payments, shared invoices can be paid with one click, and trust and operating payments are tracked automatically. The best part of Clio Payments? It’s included free of charge as part of your Boutique subscription.
Accepting credit cards can shorten time-to-pay by up to seven days for law firms. Stop locking up your cash flow in checks and start accepting credit cards today.
Lastpass: For password management
With great technology comes great responsibility a lot of passwords. And, if you’re adhering to password best practices, you’re using a unique password for each of the solutions suggested here … right?
To keep track of your logins, you’ll probably want a password manager, and Lastpass is definitely the way to go. With a browser extension and mobile app, you can easily and automatically sign into apps or websites. You can store payment information, personal notes, and more—all fully encrypted and completely inaccessible to anyone other than the account administrator. Lastpass also offers a security audit tool that measures the security of your stored passwords and master password, and then compares these to the security of all Lastpass users.
If you’re concerned about maintaining security for all of your online solutions (and you should be), a password manager is an absolutely necessity. Lastpass checks all the boxes and then some. Also, it’s free.
Vonage Business: For telephone
In the era of tweets, texts, snaps, emails, and Facebook messages, sometimes the best way to communicate with someone is still through a good, old-fashioned phone call. Vonage for Business offers the functionality of landlines, with 40 other useful features including a virtual receptionist, automatic call forwarding, conference calling, and more. Also, the cloud-connected functionality means you can access your unique work phone line anywhere you have an internet connection.
Bonus: Vonage integrates with Clio, meaning calls to your law firm line are automatically logged against Clio contacts with a matching phone number. Time entries can even be generated based on billing rates for those clients. Never forget to bill a phone call again!
Ruby Receptionists: For client service
Solo attorneys frequently mired in both legal and administrative work may not always be able to give incoming calls the attention they deserve. Staff may help, but many small firms may not have the workload or budget to hire a full-time receptionist. This is where quirky answering service Ruby comes in.
Ruby’s professional and friendly staff will manage inbound and outbound calls, provide detailed call records and messages, and take care of client intake. From your end, you can monitor everything from a slick mobile app.
Stop missing calls and losing opportunities, and put Ruby to work for your law firm today. You may never need to hire a full-time receptionist again.
Zapier: For tying it all together
Like the staff in your firm, your software functions better when it works together. This is where Zapier comes in. Using Zapier, law firms can automate repetitive tasks by ensuring that the apps they use in their day-to-day workflow exchange relevant information.
You don’t need a computer engineering degree to make this work either: Simply create a Zapier account, select the apps you use in your firm from a list of over 400 (and growing), and Zapier will present a list of Actions and Triggers for each relevant application.
Want to create a new task in Todoist whenever you receive an email from a specific client? Zapier can do that for you. Maybe you’d like a new time entry created in Clio when you create a calendar entry in Outlook? Zapier can do that too. The possibilities are endless and setup is painless. You’ll be able to brag to your friends about your programming prowess after automating your way through some of the more time-consuming tasks that tie your firm down.
Clio: For full-featured practice management
Behind every great law practice is a powerful practice management solution. If you’re looking for the best, Clio is the obvious choice. With cloud and mobile functionality, Clio gives you secure access to your firm’s information and management tools—anywhere, anytime. You’ll spend less time on administrative tasks like time tracking, matter management, and invoicing, leaving you more time to spend on billable work.
Also, Clio integrates with many of the other apps on this list (we have over 50 integration partners in total), which means you’ll be able to run your entire practice from one place. If your law firm is a body, Clio is the nervous system, simplifying and streamlining the multiple moving parts that make today’s law firm successful.