Click here to read Part 1 of this column with the results of the MyCase 2021 legal industry report.
Legal software improves productivity
One of the biggest hurdles respondents surveyed reported facing their firms is the efficiency of law firms, which is a problem for 86% of law firms. The good news is that these reports show for many lawyers that the software tools I reviewed in this column help significantly improve the performance of their firms.
For example, I wrote about document automation in February 2021, and 54% of respondents shared that their firms enjoy the benefits of this type of software. Of these, 35% saved more than 15 minutes each time a document was created. Another 16% saved 11-15 minutes, 29% saved 6-10 minutes and 20% saved 1-5 minutes.
The document management software I wrote about in this article also saves time for law firms: 66% of respondents reported that their firms have document management software. Of the firms that relied on document management software, 94% felt that the result was somewhat or much easier to find documents.
Secure and well-established communication is also important for law firms, and as I explain here, law firms are increasingly using client portals to improve communication with clients. As you might have predicted, the main method of communication chosen by the surveyed legal professionals were online customer portals, used by 68% of companies. Portals saved 14% of firms more than 10 hours each month. Another 19% saved 6-10 hours each month, and almost a third (29%) saved 1-5 hours each month.
The introduction of technology increases profitability
Next – the finances of the law firm. According to 80% of surveyed lawyers, another major problem faced by cloud software firms is the profitability of law firms, and for 74% the growth of law firms is also a key obstacle for their firms. Given these statistics, it should be noted that the survey results provided convincing evidence that the adoption of legal technologies can significantly improve the financial frictions faced by law firms.
I’ve written about the benefits of time tracking software earlier in a pandemic, and survey results provide further evidence that this type of software helps improve the profits of law firms. The survey results show that the vast majority of law firms use time tracking software (81%), and this pays off: 9% used more than 15 hours each month using time tracking tools. Another 8% captured 11-15 hours, 17% tracked an additional 6-10 hours, and 21% added 1-5 hours.
As I explain in this article, legal billing software is necessary for most businesses. This is because, as respondents shared in the survey, the legal billing process can take an unreasonably long time. The main problems with the exhibition of invoices identified in the survey are 1) the creation of invoices (52%) and 2) difficulties with the verification of trust accounts (47%). Due to the many problems with invoicing that arise, 87% of firms use legal billing software, and each month saves time significantly: 8% of respondents saved more than 15 hours each month, 9% saved 11-15 hours , 21% saved 6-10 hours and 26% saved 1-5 hours.
Another problem with billing faced by law firms is payment, so I also wrote about payment tools online. The survey found that the vast majority of law firms (77%) solve this problem by allowing customers to pay online using ACH or credit cards. According to lawyers surveyed, this led to an increase in fees: more than half (61%) of respondents said their firms raised more money because of online payment processing software, with a breakdown showing that 36% raised “slightly more money” and 25% raised “much more money”.
Adoption of the software stimulates the growth of the law firm
The results of the survey also showed that another major problem faced by law firms is the acquisition of clients, and the majority of legal professionals (68%) consider this to be the main obstacle. The good news is that the legal CRM or customer relationship management software I wrote about here simplifies this process.
Respondents were asked about a number of different features of CRM software and the time savings that led to the use of these tools. The use of molds to gather leads was considered: 42% reported that their firms used online tools to produce lead. Respondents said that online forms for receiving potential customers increased the number of monthly potential customers: 35% attracted 1-10 more customers each month, 13% – 11-20, and 6% – more than 20.
Another popular feature of CRM was tracking leads: more than half (53%) of firms use lead management software. Of these respondents, 20% reported that as a result their firms saved 6 or more hours each month, and another 32% saved 1 to 5 hours each month.
ESignature software has also increased due to the demands of social pandemic distancing, and as a result, 79% of lawyers surveyed reported that their firms used eSignature tools. Of these firms, 67% saved time as a result, and 28% saved 6 or more hours each month.
The future looks promising
Another area in the report was whether law firms ’investments in software are worth the time, effort and expense. Notably, the majority of respondents shared that their investment in cloud-based remote work software was profitable, with 73% showing that the remote work tools their firms invested in increased productivity. Another 80% reported that remote work tools are part of their firm’s long-term business continuity strategy. Finally, respondents reported a favorable outlook for the future: more than half (59%) expect their firms ’revenues to increase in 2021.
If you are preparing your firm for the year, you will need to take into account the long-term effects of the pandemic and make sure you strengthen the resilience of your law firm. This way your firm will be able to survive and thrive no matter what the year brings. In other words, there is no better time than now to build a foundation for long-term success by investing in key software tools that will ensure business continuity during the pandemic and beyond.
Nicole Black is a lawyer, author and journalist from Rochester, New York, and she is an evangelist of legal technology at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is a nationally recognized author Cloud computing for lawyers and is a co-author Social networks for lawyers: the next frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She is also a co-author Criminal Law in New York, a treatise by Thomson Reuters. She leads regular columns for ABAJournal.com and Above the Law, is the author of hundreds of articles for other publications and regularly speaks at conferences on the intersection of law and new technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblackor you can contact her at [email protected].
This column reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ABA Journal or the American Bar Association.