The tech world is growing fast; legal technology and law firm marketing technology are no exception to this trend. The number of companies offering valuable products and services that help your law firm grow is ever-expanding. Technology for attorneys, such as legal customer relationship management (CRM) software, streamlines and automates mundane tasks, making it easier to outsource certain administrative functions. From marketing to client intake, case management, staff performance tracking and beyond, the legal tech world has solutions that help you focus on the work you do best. Let’s take a look at some of the products, tools and services that you can use to grow your law firm and simplify your work life.
When it comes to keeping your law firm organized, having a reliable and safe law firm CRM is necessary. Choosing a provider specifically designed for law firms’ needs can make the process smoother and more efficient.
What Is a Law Firm CRM/CMS?
There can be some confusion when it comes to the acronyms CRM and CMS because they have different meanings in legal tech as compared to other tech platforms. On a more generic business and marketing CMS platform, such as Hubspot, CMS stands for “Customer Management Software.”
Legal-focused platforms use the acronym CMS, which means “Case Management System.” A legal CMS helps organize back-of-house tasks that relate to ongoing legal cases and clients. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and can be used by law offices to organize front-of-house tasks, such as getting information on and tracking leads before they become clients.
The terms CRM/CMS are often used together or interchangeably as an umbrella term for platforms that provide both types of services. CRM software for legal services that offer both types of functions will often use proprietary names for their CRM/CMS offerings, as you will see in the examples below for the best CRM software for legal services.
Clio’s CRM product, Clio Grow, offers an automated intake process, a streamlined scheduler that also accepts payments, and automation of tasks such as emails and data entry. Its CMS product is Clio Manage, which provides real-time case and document updates, document management and tools to check regulatory compliance. Clio Suite is the company’s all-in-one product that offers all the features of Clio Grow and Clio Manage combined.
CASEpeer is structured as a single CRM/CMS product with three pricing tiers based on the number of users. This makes it one of the best CRMs for small law firms on a budget. It provides law firms with a single platform to manage intake and cases, as well as integrated calendars and organized document management. It also boasts communication tools such as email correspondence tracking and in-platform text messaging to make it easier to quickly communicate with clients without legal staff needing to use their personal phones.
Captorra’s CRM software is called Intake. The software provides intake scripts and automation to help manage leads and quickly respond to interested clients. It claims law firms will see a 27 percent increase in new business by using its tools to quickly follow-up with new clients. Captorra Case is its CMS product that provides client acquisition tools and control of scheduling and deadlines, as well as business analytics and a real-time settlement calculator. The platform also offers IT support for its cloud-based technology.
Regardless of the provider, a reliable online CRM/CMS helps law firms grow by having all contact and case information in one place, making intake, tracking and follow-up more organized, streamlined and accessible across locations for all legal staff. With the tools and data tracking provided by a CRM/CMS, your law firm can get a clearer picture of the inner workings of day-to-day processes to help cut redundancies and craft a smoother workflow.
Digital and Online Appointment Scheduling
While some CRM/CMS platforms often have their own digital calendars, there are plenty of stand-alone digital calendar options as well, some of which can be integrated with a CRM/CMS. Not only do digital calendars offer a simple way to sync schedules and book appointments, but many also perform additional tasks such as sending reminder emails, accepting payments and tracking analytics.
As client needs and preferences change, online calendars grow and adapt to meet these needs so that there are fewer barriers between potential clients and booking an appointment with your law firm.
Acuity Scheduling offers customizable availability that auto-adjusts time zones so that clients can schedule their own appointments, as well as fill out any necessary intake forms. Other features include integration with popular online payment platforms such as Stripe, Square and PayPal.
Calendly allows clients to book available slots and integrates with other calendars such as Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud. It also allows users to set buffer time between appointments and automate tasks with other apps such as Salesforce or Zapier.
When a law firm uses an online calendar, it minimizes the chance of double-booking and other scheduling snafus that may turn off potential clients or cause frustration for current ones. Furthermore, the fewer hurdles a client has to jump over to book an appointment, the better. With a simple and clear appointment scheduling system, your law firm can avoid missing out on clients that may hesitate to pick-up the phone or that would otherwise go to another, easier-to-contact firm.
A great legal call center service will do more than just answer phone calls; it will support your law firm with professionalism and care. Oftentimes, a legal call center might be a potential client’s first impression of your firm, so it’s important to choose the right service—one intimately familiar with, and specifically trained for, the needs of law firms and their clients.
Benefits Of Working With A Legal-Only Call Center
At Alert Communications we offer 24/7/365 phone services specifically for law offices and legal marketing agencies in English and Spanish. Services include new client intake, virtual receptionist services, appointment scheduling, responding to web form leads, and facilitating the sending and signing of e-retainer forms to qualifying clients.
Even if you already have an in-house receptionist, we offer back-up services for overflow and after-hours coverage. We also provide live transfer and call routing, so there is one less step between clients and lawyers/legal staff when a client needs to get in touch with a specific team member.
Alert can accommodate most CRM/CMS platforms. This allows you to choose the right CRM/CMS platform for your law firm without worrying if it matches up with our services.
Using a legal call center like Alert can give you the phone coverage you need so that you never miss a lead and your client base can continue to grow, even when you’re out of the office. And because our legal intake specialists are specifically trained to meet the needs of clients seeking legal guidance, you can rest assured they have the skills and empathy necessary to ease client stress and concerns.
As the world becomes increasingly fast-paced and paperless, digital documents are becoming the go-to for law firms to share important documents and contracts with clients. In most cases, it’s no longer necessary now, as it was in the past, for clients to come to an office in person or wait for days to receive documents in the mail. Digital contracts can be sent via email or text and signed at any time that’s convenient for your clients. Digital agreements can even be signed while clients remain on the phone receiving guidance and instructions.
DocuSign offers a variety of products, including its flagship, The Agreement Cloud. It offers a large array of document signing services with more than 350 possible integrations via platforms such as Google and Salesforce. It can also verify signer identity with ID verification, knowledge-based authentication or SMS authentication. DocuSign can track the lifecycle of a document and search and analyze documents in its database.
AdobeSign offers PDFs and e-signatures all in a single app. Some additional features include bulk sending documents that need to be signed by multiple parties, document tracking and the ability to turn PDFs into web and digital forms. AdobeSign also integrates with other applications such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
HelloSign allows users to upload documents and create fields where signatures and dates are needed, and then sends an encrypted document out to be signed. Templates can be easily created with branding and logos added to documents. HelloSign allows for integration with G Suite, Dropbox, and other apps and platforms.
Digital contracts are another integral legal technology that will help you streamline and grow your clientele and ease existing clients’ legal processes. Frequently, clients seeking legal services are already stressed and overwhelmed. Removing the need to travel or wait for long periods of time just to sign documents will greatly ease their stress—and yours.
Digital Reporting Tools
Digital reporting tools can help your law firm track a number of different important metrics so you know what is working and what is not. Often called reports, insights or analytics, digital reporting tools capture data and present it in a way that is easy to view and understand. Data can include information on leads and marketing such as lead capture rate and the average cost per lead, as well as more general firm performance and revenue tracking.
The above mentioned CRM/CMS platforms also have digital reporting tools as part of their package offerings. Let’s take a closer look at that aspect of these products specifically.
On Clio, digital reporting tools can be found on what is called the Law Firm Insights Dashboard. The dashboard uses pie and bar charts to show a number of different metrics to track law firm performance. Key metrics include utilization rate, realization rate and collection rate.
The utilization rate tracks the number of billable hours compared to the number of work hours in the day. The realization rate displays the number of billable hours invoiced, compared to the number of billable hours worked. And, finally, collection rate tracks the number of billable hours that have been paid.
CASEpeer offers a suite of reports and management tools to help track metrics from the start of client acquisition through the full case process. There are tools for tracking referral sources, dropped cases, the firm’s legal team’s performance and data on contracts, insurance companies and more.
Captorra refers to its digital reporting tools as business analytics. Its business analytics range from tracking staff member workloads and comparing case value estimates with the real world outcome to which client types are handled most efficiently and tools to help spot revenue trends. It also offers tools to help track return on investment for leads as well as cost per sign-up.
In the days before legal technology, it may have been much more difficult, tedious and time-consuming to track each of these metrics by hand. Now with the advances in legal tech, digital reporting tools give your law firm all of this data with the click of a button. This gives you a birds-eye view of the inner workings of your firm, so that you can have the vital information you need to make important decisions as your firm grows and takes on new ventures.
Law Firm Technology is the Wave of the Future
How will technology impact law firms in the future? Only time will tell, but the current legal tech already available is encouraging. New technology for law firms is constantly being developed and updated. The law firms that utilize the various forms of the available legal tech and jump on new products and services will have a marked advantage over those that don’t.
Law firm CRM systems and other forms of legal tech will make your firm more competitive and adaptable to the ever-changing needs of clients. While transitioning to new legal tech and ways of operating can sometimes feel a bit daunting at first, it will pay off in the long run and make your firm run more smoothly and efficiently for years to come.
Want to learn more about the tools you can use to increase client intake? Download our “6 Technologies/Tools Every Law Firm Needs to Elevate Their Client Intake” eBook.