Workflows at law offices aren’t always simple, and they rarely follow a predictable path. Both lawyers and their paralegal and clerical support have to be able to access clear, concise data, and navigate complex client needs in order to generate value for their clients.
Under these conditions, establishing efficient workflows is challenging work. In order to properly advise clients and represent their interests in legal cases, legal firms need to adhere to strict regulations while responding to the demands of their environment.
In the end, lawyers often end up accruing a time-debt of non-billable hours that account for a broad range of high-volume, low-impact administrative work. This work can be anything from searching for a particular document to waiting for an approval or even hiring new employees.
As in any industry, clear processes are half the battle won. But without reputable third-party workflow solutions, legal professionals have to fight an uphill battle to enjoy the cost-saving benefits of workflow optimization.
Workflow Optimization in the Legal Field
There are two broad ways to implement workflow optimization for law offices. Either the legal firm assesses, develops, implements, and maintains its own workflow solutions, or it entrusts these tasks to a third-party vendor.
Between these two choices, managed service vendors with experience developing and deploying workflow software for law offices offer the better deal. This is because they are exclusively dedicated to workflow optimization for legal services.
On the other hand, legal firms generally don’t have the technical expertise to develop the robust infrastructure needed for workflow optimization on-hand. Hiring IT specialists for the job only makes sense if the law firm in question is certain that it will generate at least as much value as the new employees’ salary and benefits.
Since IT specialists enjoy an average salary of almost $55,000 per year, hiring one can be a daunting task. But the complexity of the legal field means that even a small law firm needs more than a single “IT Guy.” Finding IT specialists with experience working within the highly regulated environment of a law firm can make the hiring process challenging.
Fortunately, third-party managed service vendors can develop workflow solutions specifically suited to the needs of lawyers and legal firms. Customizing workflow optimization software to work within the legal framework is a valuable specialty service.
Automating Workflow Solutions for Law Offices
Automation is the key to reducing production bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the legal environment. If legal clerks have to read data on paper documents and manually enter them into a document management system, significant time-debt will accrue even in non-peak periods.
That time-debt is what leads to non-billable hours making their way into lawyers’ schedules. If a lawyer can’t find a document or has to wait for it to be entered into the firm’s system, every hour that elapses until the document makes its way to the lawyer’s desk is wasted, non-billable, non-productive time.
This is why it’s so important for legal professionals to track non-billable hours. Well-designed workflow optimization for legal services helps reduce the time spent on both billable and non-billable processes alike.
- Automated Data Entry. One of the prime benefits to entrusting a document management vendor for legal workflow solutions is automated data entry. Optical character recognition can seamlessly turn paper documents into editable digital ones instantly.
- Improved Security Processes. Centralized document management solutions can eliminate the risk of losing documents and mitigate security risks associated with paper documents. Legal security compliance can be built into any workflow solution, ensuring that expensive violations don’t occur.
- Robust Indexing. The ability to index legal documents according to keywords is a powerful efficiency booster. Modern workflow optimization software with optical character recognition can automatically generate these keywords by reading the document itself, streamlining document capture and indexing in the process.
- Personalized Workflow Profiles. It’s uncommon for every lawyer in a legal firm to operate according to the same workflow. More likely, each one has a unique set of processes that need to be mapped and automated. Personalized workflow profiles make this possible.
Integrate Workflow Solutions with Billing & Accounts Receivable
On its own, a document management solution is an attractive, valuable tool for any law office. But these benefits compound when law firms integrate their workflow optimization solution with their existing billing, financial, and process management tools.
This allows law firms to automatically generate and send comprehensive invoices to clients. Lawyers can have billable hours automatically assigned to their client account without manually entering time. Workflow solution integration vastly improves the efficiency of the law office when integrating throughout its business process model.
Is it time for your legal firm to streamline its processes, earn more, and waste less? Contact a legal workflow specialist at Zeno Solutions to discover how!