Technological advances mean that many of the tasks within a law firm that come under the umbrella of practice management and that were previously done manually can now be automated. Although investing in the practice management software and solutions can seem daunting, there are huge benefits both for the law firm and for clients. Here we look at what we mean by practice management software and how it can be of benefit to both clients and the firm itself.
What Is Practice Management Software?
Practice management software can be used by law firms that want to centralise systems as well as make themselves more efficient and cost-effective. Such systems can encompass many things, including case management, client billing, accounting and time recording. The use of a practice management system to do these tasks means that employees and fee earners are free to work on tasks that cannot be centralised or automated. This can in turn mean that a firm will increase its profitability and may also be able to provide services at a lower cost to clients as a result.
Benefits for Clients
The clients’ benefits of a law firm investing in a practice management system are mainly financial, although increased security could also be seen as a benefit. These systems can increase efficiency and therefore profitability within a law firm. Some firms may feel that it is in their long-term interests to pass on the benefit to clients in the form of savings on fees. From a security point of view, knowing that electronic versions of documents are stored in a ‘cloud’ that is off-site makes many clients feel more secure about their information and potential issues of confidentiality. This can also reduce fears over how firms might deal with documents that could be damaged or destroyed due to flooding or a fire.
The Law Firm’s Benefits
Most practice management solutions are capable of doing several things, so firms can pick and choose what it is that they want to use such a system for based on what it is that they are hoping to achieve. It can help to ensure that they are complying with regulatory requirements and can help a firm’s accounting team to put together the annual accounts by giving them an audit trail. It can also help with identifying financial risk within a firm as well as any financial irregularities. As most practice management systems include some legal accounting software, it is likely that the accounts department will be one of the main beneficiaries, as it can assist with monitoring outgoings and help with reconciliation. For the rest of the firm, such a system can be used for time recording, bill calculation and business reporting.
The business continuity benefits of practice management are fairly self-explanatory, but just as having documents stored off-site is beneficial for the client, the firm is also benefiting from this method of storage, meaning that it is better prepared in the event of some kind of disaster occurring. The fact that such a system can free up the time of a firm’s fee earners is also a benefit, as it will increase their earning potential and therefore the firm’s profitability.
The use of practice management systems by the legal profession can help them to become paperless and more environmentally friendly. While such systems may be perceived by some in the legal profession as ‘risky’, investing in security systems and systems that back up electronic storage can help to mitigate some of the risk. Although such systems require some significant financial investment, the benefits to be gained can more than justify this.