Here’s one thing that you might not have learned in law school: how to be prepared for the vast amount of paperwork that a case creates outside of the courtroom. For those working at small legal firms, either as an attorney, paralegal or in an administrative role, you probably know this all too well. You have client schedules to manage, material to discover and loads of paperwork to file – all on tight and shifting deadlines. The good news is, some great technical tools have emerged in recent years to help you overcome this challenge. One example is what we call case management software, a tool that makes it easier to handle the increasingly complex business and management aspects of running a successful legal firm in today’s fast-paced, competitive and technologically demanding world.
A couple of weeks ago, N8 Solutions was pleased to attend the 2018 Smart Advocate User Conference in New York. The event brought together new and veteran users of SmartAdvocate®, a legal case management software platform with both server and cloud options. Attendees exchanged knowledge and ideas around what constitutes cutting-edge technology at this moment in the legal field. The N8 team went to the conference because we wanted to learn more about the benefits and nuances of best-in-class legal case management software. What we walked away with was a plethora of reasons why law firms like yours should absolutely be considering case management solutions right now, if you haven’t already.
What is case management software?
Put simply, case management software is an innovative platform that helps legal firms of all sizes work smarter and better. The multi-faceted software is designed to drive efficiency and productivity by streamlining nearly everything you do to run your legal practice. This might include document management like uploading, classifying and sharing information, or quickly searching for specific materials related to an ongoing case. Today, case management software can also help you with calendaring, capturing metadata on your correspondence like emails and phone calls and time-tracking for easier billing. Case management software automates many of these common activities to save you time and money and to reduce errors. It could also help improve the way you market your firm, which is a great value-add in today’s highly competitive legal marketplace.
Best yet, case management software comes in a range of sizes and functions to best fit the unique needs of your legal firm. In fact, the American Bar Association offers a helpful comparison chart on some different software providers. However, the chart was last updated in February 2017, so please be sure to check each providers’ website for the most up-to-date information.
Why should my firm adopt case management software?
Not quite convinced of the need to invest in a case management solution? Read on for a few more reasons to consider this software for your firm, as well as some tips and considerations for when you’re ready to do so.
Increased efficiency. The right case management software increases efficiency by facilitating the automation of many of your day-to-day or recurring operations. Gone will be the days of searching through physical stacks of paperwork. When your documents and data are migrated into a case management system, you’ll be able to search, download and share the information you want, at a moment’s notice. Further, automated time and billing entry functionality will keep your client files organized and accurate for a more streamlined invoicing and payments system.
Access files from anywhere. If remote access to your firm’s information is important, be sure to look for a software provider that offers a “cloud-based” service. This means that you can access the software platform from anywhere with an internet connection. SmartAdvocate®, for example, offers a server version as well as a cloud-based version that lets you access case files and information from anywhere and any device, including your mobile phone! So, whether you’re preparing for a case late at night at home or searching for critical information during a break in court, remote access will provide you flexibility in how and where you work as well as increased responsiveness to your clients. Cloud-based case management software will also help you collaborate in real-time with your colleagues who may be working in different offices, locations or even time zones.
Keep track of deadlines. Another key feature to look for in your case management software solution is a calendaring option. A good program will include a slick interface that helps you manage deadlines and case-related timelines so that you never miss important dates. If you’re still relying on a physical desktop calendar or even an online system like Google Calendar or Outlook, you’re likely wasting time and resources to sync information between these disparate systems with your case files and client communications. Today, case management software can even be automated to send you or your clients reminders when deadlines or activities are approaching.
Coordinate communication. Many of your cases might involve multiple parties. Look for a case management solution that helps you manage the contact information of participating parties and brings everything into one clear and accessible place. In this way, you’ll quickly find the contact information you need, when you need it, to save time and improve client communication. In fact, many platforms including SmartAdvocate® offer customized communications templates to keep your client up-to-date (and thus happy) at intervals or based on triggering events.
Measure your effectiveness. Data for decision making purposes is a growing necessity in nearly all industries, including the legal profession. Selecting a case management software platform with strong reporting capabilities will enable you to track and measure a wide range of metrics for continuous improvement. This might include managing the performance of your team and identifying areas for improvement or measuring the success of various marketing strategies for refinement or optimization.
Depending on the IT resources and comfort level of your legal firm, look for a case management software provider that will help you migrate your existing data to the new system, whether this exists in another software platform, a proprietary system like Excel spreadsheets or even in paper format. Also look for a provider that offers the training and troubleshooting you need to get you up and running.
At N8 Solutions, we understand that protecting the security of your firm’s data is critical. Many case management solutions give you an option to manage your own data security once the platform is installed. If that’s not in your wheelhouse, you have options. N8 Solutions is available to help with any SmartAdvocate® migration or installation, from set-up to long-term monitoring and support.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where cyberattacks against businesses like yours are growing more frequent and more damaging. That’s why we offer a range of network monitoring and support services designed to provide you with around-the-clock peace of mind. We can keep tabs on your network activity, apply patches, troubleshoot, and maintain desktops and servers, so you can focus on driving your legal business forward. If we spot a problem with your case management system or your information, we’ll work to fix it - before you’ve even realized there’s an issue.
Want to learn more? Ready to explore the right case management solutions and all of the benefits it has to offer? Great decision! Please get in touch with us today to talk through your needs and goals.