Time Optimisation in Legal Firms

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Time Optimisation in Legal Firms.

When time carries a dollar value that is ultimately converted to your client’s invoice, it is vital that you use your time well, concentrating on tasks that can be billed to your client and not spending as much time on routine administrative chores that add to your cost of doing business. Optimising your internal document processing and management is a great way to start. You can significantly add to your bottom line by reducing the time your paralegals and support staff spend on routine tasks, by giving them useful tools that will support their daily duties.

Most firms have some form of engagement letter or agreement that new clients are given when they come in for their initial interview. It is a simple form for the client to read and complete—the first opportunity to gather their personal details and give them an idea of what they can expect, and what they are liable for, as a client.


Have a think about your Customer Engagement Process and read on to see how a simple change can reduce the time it takes to enter your clients’ information into your database, freeing up your staff for other, more meaningful duties.


So, what’s your client’s experience? Let’s have a look…

“Hello, how can I help you?” The receptionist has a welcoming smile and is a delight to talk to, making you, the client, feel relaxed and increasingly comfortable with your choice of law firm. But you came here for a reason; a serious one, and there are lots of facts and terms spinning around in your head. Perhaps you’re a little nervous—you’ve never engaged a lawyer before and feel a bit intimidated; not sure what to expect when your name is called and it’s your turn to step into the mysterious legal world.


The receptionist hands you a printed application form to complete. It’s long enough to need staples and there’s so much to it that straight away you start to worry that you’re going to miss something. There are questions that don’t really apply to you so you just fill out the form to the best of your ability, perhaps skipping an answer here and there, and hand it back to the smiling figure behind the desk.


Keyboard clicks echo through the waiting room as the receptionist transfers your written answers into the firm’s database.


So how was it for you? Let’s see…


This is the first time you’re meeting this client. You want to provide the best service you can and it all comes down to information—getting the information you need and imparting the information your client needs, with the least fuss. The more you know right from the start, the more targeted your approach can be. Your client may not even realise what they’re looking for, until you ask the right question.


But how many questions can you reasonably ask and how many terms and conditions can you reasonably explain, on a wad of paper that your client must balance on a clipboard on their lap in the few minutes that they have before their first appointment?


The technology to slash the time spent on administrative duties already exists and it’s simple to apply. You can free up your staff, tailor your service and generate new leads by making just one change within your practice.


Ditch the printer and develop a digital form that your receptionist can give to your client on an iPad or Windows Surface Tablet. Your client will think it’s totally cool and likelier be happier to play with the gadget than develop writer’s cramp completing a generic interrogation form. With a digital format, you can ask more targeted questions than on paper, perhaps with extra questions automatically inserted into the questionnaire based upon the answer your client gives to an earlier question.


Imagine your client signing a signature box on the final page then pressing a “Submit” button, which immediately transfers the form to your receptionist’s screen, ready to have a legal consultant assigned. With the client’s information now securely stored on your database, the appointment time is automatically entered into the newly assigned lawyer’s calendar. The legal representative counter-signs the form electronically and emails it to the client, and now your client has a copy of their agreement signed by both parties, and they haven’t even left reception yet.


How much time and rigmarole could be saved in your office by investing in this one technology? Your initial appointments could run shorter or be more productive, since you’ve already got so much information from the application, and your office support staff can spend less time typing and filing and more time completing meaningful duties. Your client is impressed by your firm’s sophisticated methods, which instils confidence, which leads to word-of-mouth referrals—more business for you; more money for you.


Stay tuned for future articles about how you can expand on this digital method of collecting information and further simplify your office processes.


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