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Businesses should constantly strive to improve efficiency and reputation- it's an integral part of the journey to growth and success. But in the legal profession where sensitive client data and large amounts of money are often at stake, it is even more important.

Thanks to developments in technology, improving processes, future-proofing and portraying professionalism can be achieved by all law firms in three simple steps.

1) Ensure all billable time is recorded

Just as staff can sometimes over exaggerate how much time they have spent speaking to clients, drafting emails or writing letters, it can also be the case that time goes forgotten and therefore under billed, resulting in a financial loss for your firm.

In fact, one study reveals that lawyers lose an average of 30 minutes of unbilled time a day due to missed recordings. It’s completely understandable that time goes unaccounted for- when you’re rushing from one client meeting to another it’s easy to lose track of how long you’ve spent on a certain case and inevitably, billable time will go astray. But that time adds up and before the week is out, you could be looking at £450 worth of unbilled time per employee. So what can you do to change this? There are, of course, simple remedies such as setting automated reminders or keeping a notepad on you at all times. However, realistically the solution needs to be more sophisticated and less reliant on human nature.

That’s where call monitoring comes into play. Many modern telephone systems, especially hosted VoIP handsets, come with a range of added features, such as the ability to monitor call usage and even record calls. This gives you important insight, including the exact time to bill your clients for, therefore removing the opportunity for errors to creep in. It also enables you to justify your billing, should the length of time spent on a phone call be called into question, as recordings can be sent to clients.

2) Make the move to a paperless office

A paperless law firm- surely not? Well, while it may seem inconceivable as you sit at your desk surrounded by files and strewn documents, with the steady hum of the overworked printer in the background, for some law firms the paperless dream is already a reality and you too could join your future-ready counterparts. Not only does paperwork cost your business a lot of money in printing costs alone, it also takes up valuable space. Filing cabinets and intrays, are bulky and inconvenient, not to mention unsecure and outmoded.  According to Daisy research, just a third of law firms are  currently taking advantage of the cloud for storing data.

While certain documents understandably need to be printed for legal reasons, cutting your paper usage is easier than you may think. Simply by adopting cloud computing, you can cut down on the amount of documents you have to print and store, saving money, freeing up space and ensuring that all client information is stored securely in one central space.

messy desk

3) Ensure your connectivity can cope

We’ve all experienced the dreaded spinning wheel that signals the internet is ‘procrastinating’. But when you’ve got a serious deadline, downtime is more than just annoying. In fact, it’s a remarkably underrated issue that results in the loss of hours of lost productivity equating to thousands of pounds per month. It can also potentially damage your firm’s reputation, either as being a ‘difficult place to work’ making recruitment much harder, or for failing to meet deadlines and letting clients down.

One in five law firms in the UK is affected by poor connectivity at least once a day, yet 30 per cent of those responsible for running the UK’s firms admit they don’t monitor how often staff experience problems.

Downtime can be caused by a number of factors, but more often than not, it occurs when the network is overloaded with traffic. This can result in a lost connection and periods of complete inactivity- all of which can be reduced by choosing an appropriate connectivity solution for your business.

You need to consider how often your firm uses the internet, and in particular, what tasks are conducted. Think about how you communicate with staff and customers, whether you are using cloud-based software applications, how often you partake in video conferencing, the size of average files you upload and download and if you need to support remote workers.

Inevitably, most firms need to do more than just send emails and browse the internet, so solutions like Ethernet, with its sophisticated security measures and fast upload/download speeds, can in the long-term be an incredibly cost-effective investment.

Once you’ve chosen a connectivity solution, it doesn’t stop there, however. It’s important to review your connectivity in line with business expansion and change, to ensure that it can still cope. Despite 84 per cent of law firms stating that they can’t work without a reliable internet connection, a quarter wrongly believe it should only be reviewed once staff start complaining about slow speeds.

Unlike a standard utility, such as electricity, you cannot simply install your internet connection, pay the bills and forget about it.  Your connectivity is effectively your business’ lifeline, try to do too much with too little and you risk it choking as a result.

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About Andrew Frost

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