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TECHNOLOGY

6 tips for choosing legal practice management software

By Diane Camacho There continues to be a tremendous push in the legal community from practice management software companies. This has evolved from the use of cloud-based software. What should practice management software do for you? Keep all your client information in one place. Keep all your information available to you on the go. Allow you to enter your information one time for all applications. Provide document automation. Provide document management. Efficiently track your time and produce bills. Either produce financial reports or sync with a financial management platform like QuickBooks. From my experience in the legal community and particularly working with small firms and solo practitioners, I’ve accumulated the following tips on legal practice management software. Tip 1 Each of these programs have a sweet spot. Some do billing… . . . read more

3 steps to determine what office help you need

By Diane Camacho When you are at the point where you know you have to get office help, take the time to determine what help you need.  Your neighbor’s brother-in-law may need a job, but he may not be the best bet. The following three step process can help you hire the right help.  Step 1 – Track your non-billable time Create a client/matter number for your non-billable time and track it just as if it were client billable. You are in effect paying for it, so track it. Don’t get too complicated. Simple entries that will remind you what type of task you did and how long it took are fine. Perhaps things like: Research new software File papers Type pleading forms Look for insurance brokers Make folders for client files… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Should a lawyer do administrative tasks to save money?

By Elizabeth M. Miller Should a lawyer do administrative tasks to save money? Of course, the answer is no. Struggling business owners will spend time to save money, whereas successful business owners will spend money to save time. Because you can always get more money⁠—you cannot get more time. So, you need to ensure the work you spend your time on makes the biggest impact. This is called leverage and leverage is the best kept secret of the rich. It works like this: If you spend five hours per week on administrative work at $400 per hour x 4.3 weeks per month it will cost you $8,600.00 per month of billable client hours. Over the course of a year that is $103,200.00 of billable time that you could be billing… . . . read more

STAFFING

Is it a recession or not? The answer may surprise you

By Lynne Curry My in-box filled with questions after I posted a Recession Fears Loom blog. Readers asked how I made sense of the different views voiced by economists and politicians. As a law office manager with responsibilities around staffing and profitability, you are probably watching to see which way the economy goes. Here’s the background, and my answer to “are we headed into a recession?”: Some say “yes.” Over 60 percent of the 750 CEOs surveyed by the business research firm Conference Board expect a recession in the next 12 to 18 months1. Another 15 percent of surveyed CEOs report their region is already in recession.1 The most recent gross domestic product report that tracks our overall economic health showed a second consecutive quarter of negative growth, the textbook… . . . read more

PRODUCTIVITY

Artificial intelligence can boost billable hours

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents one of the latest advances in legal technology. Rather than replacing attorneys and support staff, AI can help lawyers and other legal professionals do more to serve their clients with greater efficiency and less expense. Teaching computers to learn One significant advantage of employing AI is the ability of machines to learn tasks that previously required the time and effort of lawyers, according to a blog by SMI Aware, a social media evidence collection and preservation service. Likewise, AI enhances the ability of lawyers to extract pertinent case information by directly typing a query in a search field—or directing the machine to perform a given task. Of course, before computers can perform these tasks, they must be “taught” to do so by humans. Connecting various concepts, such as… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Enforce those billing and collection guidelines

Getting paid or not getting paid to a great extent depends on the firm’s billing and collection guidelines—and whether they are enforced. Without guidelines, the firm is asking for money loss. Billing is haphazard, collection work isn’t done regularly, personal clients aren’t always satisfied with their bills, and corporate clients may hold up payment or contest the bill. Guidelines will vary from firm to firm. They have to reflect the firm’s culture along with its clients and the type of work it does. But in general, best practice calls for traditional procedures. Here are the basics. First and last month up front Start with a retainer. With almost all clients, the firm takes an understood risk when it accepts work. The client may be a slow payer or a part… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

5 law firm billing practices for better cash flow

By Brenda Barnes It’s probably not a big surprise that if your firm does not have sound billing and collection practices, your cash flow will suffer. It also probably goes without saying that when cash flow suffers so does partner compensation. How can you tighten this up? First and foremost, you need to have solid billing policies that are agreed upon and followed! Enter your time daily. With today’s mobile technology, there is really no excuse for not entering time daily. Your practice management software should be so easy to use, so easy to access that there are really no excuses. Enter time from your desktop, laptop, iPad, cellular phone and dictate it directly to your software. If your software is not providing your attorneys this flexibility, make the investment now… . . . read more

RISK MANAGEMENT

4 bad financial habits that may increase your policy premiums and your malpractice risk

Ineffective billing and collections practices affect more than the bottom line. They ultimately may determine what the firm has to…


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INCREASING PROFITS

Keep your accounts receivable young

Collection work is something that can’t wait, because a dollar of receivables doesn’t stay a dollar…


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