Technology is a source of stress and frustration for lawyers and law firms. A recent survey of attorneys found that fewer than half feel that their law firm is using tech tools effectively. This is unfortunate: When utilized properly, legal technology can save time and money.
You may be wondering: What are the top tech tools for attorneys? The answer depends, in large part, on your professional needs and goals. In this article, you will find an overview of some of the top tech tools for lawyers and law firms in 2022.
Category #1: Legal Research and Writing
While legal technology is changing the way that the law is practiced on a day-to-day basis, the traditional skills that make a great attorney are still as important as ever. Legal research and legal writing still make up a huge part of successfully practicing the law in the United States. There are some legal tech tools that lawyers and law firms can use to improve the research and writing process:
- Research: In decades past, legal research required combining through one of a several dozen large books. Legal tech has made the research process a lot more efficient. Of course, this includes long-standing research tools such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. Beyond that, there are new legal research tools coming out on a regular basis. One example is Fastcase, a company offering cloud-based research software for lawyers and law firms.
- Writing: Legal professionals are constantly drafting documents. It is crucial that you have the best available legal tech for your needs. It does not necessarily need to be something fancy. Word processing software, including Microsoft 365 and Google Docs, are still among the most popular. Lawyers can also benefit from more advanced writing tech, including things like Legal Citation Generator.
Category #2: Case Management
As a lawyer, you could draft the most compelling, well-reasoned legal documents in the world, but you are still going to run into serious problems if you have sloppy case management. Proper case management will ensure that everything is handled properly—from meeting deadlines to preserving key documents. Here are some key case management tech tools for 2022:
- Storage: Where are you storing relevant legal documents? Many law firms still keep paper copies of many documents on record—but you are also likely to have most (if not all) of your documents stored in an electronic format, as well. Many law firms can benefit from a state-of-the-art Scanner and/or the use of a scanning app such as Evernote. Few law firms want to store everything on their own hardware. Cloud-based platforms offer an effective storage solution.
- Project Management: Project management matters, especially when multiple parties are working together on the same legal matter. You can benefit from a number of different project management tools. First, software solutions such as ScheduleOnce, Clio, and others make it easier to collaborate and keep everyone on the same page. Other tools like Adobe E-sign can make it easier to finalize key documents without meeting face-to-face.
- Internal Communication: How do people within your law firm or legal organization communicate? Legal tech tools can help to simplify communication and make sure that everyone is up-to-date From video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to web chat services like Slack, tech can help to improve communication in the legal industry.
Category #3: Financial Tracking and Billing Solutions
At the end of the day, a law firm is a business. The numbers matter. Technology can help to make sure that financial tracking and billing are as efficient and effective as possible. Among other things, this includes:
- Time-Tracking: A significant percentage of attorneys work on the billable hour. In effect, this means that they need to carefully track the time and resources that they put into each piece of work. Some time-tracking tools such as Time Analytics, Desk Time, and MyHours can provide an answer.
- Billing and Payment Processing: How do clients pay their bills? You will want to make sure that billing and collection is as smooth, easy, and as possible for your clients. No matter what issue you are dealing with—from getting invoices out to dealing with disputes—your firm needs the right resources.
Category #4: Client Acquisition and Client Management
One of the primary benefits of new legal technology is that it can make client acquisition and client management easier. Some of the latest legal client acquisition and client management tools that your law firm can benefit from include:
- CRM Tools: Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the most important concepts (and tools) that many lawyers and law firm managers simply do not know enough about yet. Well-designed legal CRM software acts as your one-stop-shop for your entire relationship with a current or prospective client. CRM helps to facilitate everything from intake and scheduling to follow-up communication and revenue tracking. This tech is about making it easier to obtain and retain clients. CRM can be a game-changer for law firms looking to increase revenue and reduce expenses.
Productive Law Firms Know How to Utilize Legal Technology
The business world is changing—and the legal industry is certainly no exception. Technology is affecting virtually every aspect of our lives. The modern lawyer is becoming increasingly tech savvy. When utilized properly, legal tech can make law firms more productive. On the other hand, tech that is used poorly (or not well understood) can actually make things clunkier. It is crucial that law firms have the proper structures, systems, and technologies in place for their needs.
Of course, there is not just one way to practice as an attorney or manage a law firm. Legal technology should always be tailored to the individual needs of you and your staff. There are plenty of successful legal professionals who still use “old school” methods. At the same time, it is more efficient and cost effective to adopt and utilize legal technology. Your firm may be able to benefit from outsourcing certain tasks or certain tech to increase overall productivity.