For anyone who was unable to attend the Clio Cloud Conference, I hate to say it, but you missed out. Fortunately, I can give you a quick recap of my presentation and a few others’ I thought were extremely helpful to any practicing lawyer:
Clio CEO Jack Newton’s Keynote
$60 billon of legal bills run through Clio every year. Clio uses this data to provide insights to lawyers. Rest assured, they only use non-personally identifiable data (i.e. your client’s information and yours is safe and cannot be seen by Clio). They will publish their Legal Trends Report on October 17, but here are a few insights that lawyers may find useful:
- The Legal Trends Report can give lawyers information on the average hourly rate by practice area and state so they know how their practices is doing against local and national benchmarks
- Legal Trends Report will explain how the practice is evolving & how lawyers can use the trends to better their practice.
- Here are a few data points:
- For every 8 hours worked, 1.4 hours are collected by lawyers.
- Average collection rate for lawyers from Clio’s clients is 86% for the bills they send out.
- Utilization Rate for solo attorneys is the lowest at about 20%, which comes out to 2 hours per day. For every 8 hours you work, only 2 of those hours are actually billable. Only 1.4 of those hours are actually collected.
- The average lawyer is making less today than what they were in 2010.
Mastering the Intake Process by Lexicata
I’ve reviewed Lexicata before, and I can’t emphasize how important their software is. Lexicata helps with the intake process for your clients. I know it doesn’t seem that important and even my initial thought was, well I just input their info and I’m good to go. However, here are the key takeaways and realizations that I or you may not have had about the intake process:
The #1 place malpractice suits happen is during the intake process and it is what leads to the # 1 reasons clients complain about lawyers to the bar: communication.
If you miss a detail during the intake process that’s extremely relevant to your case, that will likely … how do I say this nicely… bite you in the rear down the line. So get your information at the onset of your relationship, and keep tabs on it with Lexicata. Also, keep in touch with your clients. If you forget to keep in touch, your clients will not be happy. Lexicata automates the communication with your client for you and makes it easy to stay in touch.
The intake process is where you lose your potential clients. Lexicata’s founder, Michael Chasin, talked about the Rule of 7: it takes 7 interactions with your potential clients to get a sale. The takeaway is: keep in touch with your leads!
You know that what I am about to say is true: Lawyers have a tough time following up with leads. We get caught up in our work, a week flies by like a minute, and we simply forget to email the potential client back and we lose their business. Lexicata automates this for you. It sends follow up emails and reminds you and your lead to keep in touch, to complete important intake forms and meet deadlines. Visit Lexicata for more information.
3 Reasons to be Excited about Technology
During my session, I spoke about 3 reasons to be excited about technology and mentioned several tools that lawyers can use to improve their practice of law and their work life balance so they don’t burn out (like I did).
Here are the 3 reasons and the tools that can help you:
I. Minimize Risk for Your Law Firm
A. Research. If you are relying on expensive and outdated tools (that shall not be named) to do your research, you pose a serious risk to your firm and your client. Technology is much easier, more comprehensive and more affordable today for a firm of any size.
Here are the tools you can use for research:
casetext – Caselaw, interpretation, blogs, and opinions (and it’s free!)
CARA from casetext – Upload your document to CARA and it automatically finds relevant case law & citations for you
Ravel Law – Know your judge and their decisions.
Lex Machina -Legal analytics, patterns in litigation & data, and information about judges, lawyers, parties and the subjects of the cases themselves.
B. Readymade Templates. Having ready-made templates can save you a ton of time and prevent you from re-inventing the wheel every time you draft a document. Here are a few resources you can use to get templates for your practice.
- LegalZoom / RocketLawyer
- Features: Ask your clients to complete their templates, and review them once they’re complete.
- Great for: All lawyers.
- Features: Provides templates for startups, everything from convertible notes, to founders’ agreements.
- Great for: Startup lawyers, entrepreneurs.
- Features: Find standard legal templates like leases, NDAs and more.
- Great for: All lawyers.
- Bar associations / Legal organizations (ACC)
- Features: Bar associations and legal organizations like the Association of Corporate Counsel provide templates for lawyers to use free of charge (if you are a member of course).
- Great for: Depends on the organization.
- Law Insider
- Features: Any and every clause you can imagine for a contract. Type what you’re looking for, and see several samples and versions.
- Great for: Contract managers, in-house counsels, corporate lawyers, startup lawyers.
C. Document automation. Automating your client intake process, management of your case files and billing is another way to minimize risk. You’ll never have to use another client’s file as a template, you’ll have “smart” contracts that you customized to your practice that you and your team can use risk free, and you will have all your files in one place, keeping them secure and handy whether you’re at home, in the office or in court. Try these tools to automate your documents:
- Features: Clio offers all you need to run a law practice from intake to invoice, with powerful features to manage cases, clients, documents, bills, appointments, time-tracking, reporting, and accounting.
- Great for: Solos to mid-sized law firms.
- Features: Cloud-based law practice management software that works seamlessly across all your mobile devices and lets you pick up right where you left off. Integrates with Microsoft Word and your email systems, has time tracking and billing capabilities all in one place. Also great customer support, document automation and seamless on-boarding.
- Great for: Solos to mid-sized, multi-office firms. Workers’ Comp, SSA/Disability, Bankruptcy, Family, Personal Injury, and more. MerusCase works for you and the specific needs of your firm.
- Features: Easy-to-use case management software. Every matter you work on is created as a digital file, with the important details saved as you go. From within the file, you can see all correspondence related to the matter, access the contact details of relevant parties, and create documents and emails in a flash. Also tracks time for you every time you open a client’s file and has great ready-made fillable templates for various practice areas.
- Great for: Solos to mid-sized firms.
- Features: Law practice management allows you to manage operations across your entire firm and make key decisions with a comprehensive, agile and user-friendly financial and practice management system. Includes business intelligence allowing you to analyze and act on real-time performance information. Case management allows you to centralize your case information including documents, financials and contact.
- Great for: Mid-sized to big-law firms.
- Features: Contract management platform that allows you to build your own templates and automate the contract negotiation process.
- Great for: Contract manager, startup-lawyeres, in-house lawyers.
- Features: Review contracts to find missing, redundant, or problematic clauses. Their Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) technology reads, reviews and understands your contracts and provides a plain English report that lets you know exactly what you’re signing.
- Great for: In-House Lawyers, corporate lawyers, contract managers, personal use to review agreements.
II. Work Less, Bill More
While I used data from various bar associations, Clio had the raw data to show that for every 8 hours a lawyer works, only 1.4 of those hours are actually billed. So where does your time go and how can you recover it and bill for it?
A. Law Practice / Client Relationship Management
- Business Intelligence. Use your CRMs and LPMs to keep track of your billable and analyze them to determine what are your most profitable cases and tasks, whether you’re giving too many discounts, and what your most profitable days are. Use this data to make informed business decisions on how to allocate your time, predict your budget for the year, and tailor your practice to generate more revenue.
- Billing & Tracking Your Time – In addition to analyzing your billables to make informed business decisions, your CRMs and LPMs allow you automate the billing process. You can send out invoices automatically, get paid through your CRMs, and track all your activities. Some even track your time for you every time you open a client’s file or email (see Smokeball and MerusCase).
B. Communication Automation
- Google Voice – It is difficult to track every single phone call, especially when you are on the go. Opening a separate app to enter the time you spent on the phone with your client is a hassle, but Google voice can help. Google Voice allows you to have a separate phone number for your firm that redirects to your personal phone. No more separate lines or separate phones! You can even set when your clients can or cannot reach you, see transcribed voicemails that you can reply to by text, and best of all have every phone call tracked including the time and the length of the call. You can even add the Google Voice widget to your firm’s web site and have clients call you directly from your site. And… it’s free!
C. Get More Clients. The data has spoken: only 7% of people seek legal assistance. Of those people who do seek legal assistance, 69% will talk to you ONLY if you are on social media. That is a huge loss in potential clients if you do not have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile.
Here’s how to get clients and how to keep them through technology:
- Get on social media – It seems simple because it is. A recent New York Times article said that a person spends 50 minutes per day on average on Facebook. If you are already on there, build a page for your firm and get all your friends to like it. It’s a great way to get your name out there, and it will get you that 69% of the potential client base that you would otherwise be missing.
Here are the quick instructions on how to build your Facebook page: https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-create-manage-facebook-business-page
2. Build a web site. Only 45% of lawyers have a web site. This is a 2015 statistic, but I doubt it has increased drastically. If you do not have a web site for your firm, how do people know how to contact you, what your practice areas are, or who the lawyers in your firm are? This is the bare minimum information you should have on your site, and it is extremely easy and affordable to build one these days.
Here are 3 easy-to-use platforms for building web sites without knowing a single line of code:
Also, if you need a step-by-step plan on building your site, visit my previous post on building your firm’s site here.
As always, I do not endorse any of these products. Use at your own risk please. For my full disclaimer, click here.