How to Use Law Firm Workflows for Maximum Impact
A study of UK law firms found that 56% prioritize investment in process automation technologies. That’s because workflow automation cuts the time and cost of completing tasks and processes by up to 80%. The same is true when it comes to using law firm workflows at your practice.
Whether you run a boutique or a big law firm, you need a centralized way of ensuring effective communication within your company and between you and your clients.
This guide covers workflow use cases and benefits, and how you can turn your internal processes into automated legal workflows for maximum impact.
What is a Law Firm Workflow?
A law firm workflow is a standardized process that dictates how a piece of work goes from start to finish to achieve a specific goal.
Legal workflow automation creates a system to trigger the next tasks or sequence of steps at your law firm, like who does what, when a document is created, which document templates to use, and when clients receive progress/status updates.
While you may have a workflow in your law firm, it may not necessarily be effective or efficient. Oftentimes, communication bottlenecks or missing steps can interrupt the process from running smoothly.
A typical law firm workflow involves administrative processes, such as:
- Receiving instructions from internal clients and delegating tasks to the right people based on their expertise and capacity
- Receiving, managing, and monitoring legal matters to their completion
- Conducting law firm briefings
- Performing regulatory and compliance checks
- Managing spend
- Sending out requests for proposals (RFPs)
While these are often manual processes, it’s becoming a best practice for law firms and legal departments to use a legal workflow software for structured, consistent workflow automations. These help lawyers create, enhance, and embed legal best practice principles into their processes for collaborative, error-free, accountable, and high-quality service delivery. Not to mention, assured compliance and signatures that are legally-binding.
Let’s review legal workflow use cases for your law firm, so you know where to implement automation technology and deliver better outcomes for your clients.
Workflow Use Cases Within the Legal Industry
Workflows have multiple applications in law firms. You can immediately implement workflows into your legal practice in low-hanging fruit processes, such as the client intake process, client communications, document automation, and billing.
Below are the main types of law firm workflows and how they can benefit your business.
Types of Law Firm Workflows
You can implement several types of law firm workflows to improve your operations. These workflows are categorized based on their function for most legal teams.
- Appointment workflow
- Cases workflow
- Time tracking workflow
- Task workflow
Once you open a new case or it reaches a particular stage in your workflow, the next step is to schedule it or set a deadline to put it into action. In most cases, you’ll need an assistant or paralegal to estimate the timings based on a specific deadline—a tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone manual process.
Many legal workflow software solutions have a built-in appointment booking feature to eliminate the manual internal scheduling problem.
You can create workflows to auto-set appointments based on specific triggers. For instance, instead of conducting a physical client intake, you can use legal workflow tools to automate the process and send out standard templates without needing a paralegal or lawyer to set up the appointment.
Appointment workflows eliminate the need to hold intake appointments for every client while saving time and reducing the need for excessive paperwork and email threads.
Case Management Workflow
Case management workflows involve managing a particular client or legal case lifecycle. This internal, often non-billable process deals with the admin aspects of the case rather than its implications for your firm’s larger business.
Automated case management workflows help law firms:
- Resolve case-related process issues, leading to better client service and benefits to your bottom line
- Become more efficient and responsive by organizing every piece of work and communication of each case in digital files
- Mitigate errors, delays, and compliance risks that come with manual data entry
- Improve client and employee participation and collaboration
- Enhance analytics, reporting, and management
Time Tracking Workflow
As you likely already know, legal professionals must track their time in meetings and other tasks for billing purposes. Traditionally, they’d have to start and stop various timers, often resulting in missed billable time opportunities.
With a time-tracking workflow, you no longer have to use a physical timer or clock. The workflow can send email updates or reminders to clients and your employees. And then auto-start the timer whenever a calendar event begins, so you can seamlessly track the time you or your team spend.
You can automate your team’s intake, appointment workflows, frequent tasks, and task assignments while saving valuable billable time.
When you assign tasks to multiple team members in charge of different aspects of your legal process, you need an organized way to keep everyone working together.
Task workflows keep everyone on task by providing reminders, due dates, and dependencies. These workflows:
- Auto-select tasks for certain matter types
- Add related tasks, dates, and forms
- Save the workflow for use at a later date
You can specify a legal workflow process for tasks meeting certain conditions using conditional logic. The workflow applies an approach to the task, requests approvals, notifies your team or clients, generates other tasks, and more.
The Benefits of Automation for Legal Teams
In today’s crowded and competitive legal marketplace, law firms must determine how to differentiate their approach and services from the competition.
Automation gives your law firm a strategic edge by delivering:
Legal workflow automation eliminates manual tasks, opening the door to greater efficiencies across your business.
In many cases, workflow automation tools integrate with your existing system and tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software to enter data automatically or Salesforce to auto-relay the data to your sales pipeline simultaneously.
When your legal team can focus more on high-value work and less on repetitive tasks, their productivity increases. They’re also less likely to experience brain drain from doing mind-numbing, mundane work, driving them to work harder on more strategic tasks that require more attention.
Automation results in fewer human errors, less wasted time, and ultimately lowers operating costs. Plus, your important files will always be where they need to be, so your team won’t waste time searching for paperwork or misplaced folders.
As your employees focus on more revenue-generating activities, they save more time and money. By adopting workflow automation tools, you also rely less on expensive legacy systems your team needs to complete manual tasks.
With all these benefits comes an increase in compliance, which reduces the costs spent on fixing mistakes and dealing with regulatory issues.
Workflow automation also promotes collaboration and connectivity. It provides employees clarity about doing their work successfully, leaving them feeling more empowered and driven to work.
They’ll have a structure to follow, which alleviates confusion on who should do what, where, when, and how.
Instead of multiple email threads, tools, project boards, and chats, they can collaborate in a single organized workflow system while tracking everything in one place. They’ll also work in a coordinated fashion and use existing resources efficiently.
Assigning tasks, submitting and reviewing documents, and making decisions in an organized workflow is faster and easier.
When your team follows best practices regarding legal document creation and management, there’s better compliance with company policies and regulatory requirements.
Automated workflows have built-in safeguards that mitigate risk, ensuring all provisions are included in relevant documents, so your team can remain compliant every time.
Greater Client Satisfaction
Manual processes are often riddled with errors, which may delay vendor contracts and payments, lower customer service scores, or even compromise your company’s sales opportunities.
While the impact of manual workflows may take time to be visible, you’re likely to miss out on positive reviews by not automating your workflows.
Speed, responsiveness, and accuracy are critical to a good and satisfying client experience.
Workflow automation streamlines and connects all your customer interactions, from client intake to matter management, billing, and account settlement. Your clients will enjoy a seamless, consistent, and organized experience rather than being frustrated by inconsistent performance and walking over to your competitors for better services.
How to Turn Internal Processes into Automated Workflows
1. Identify Routine Tasks or Recurring Projects
Evaluate your current workflow and gather data on non-automated processes to find potential bottlenecks, areas for improvement, and tasks you can optimize or eliminate.
Once you document the workflow, select which parts of each process you want automated.
2. Outline Each Step Within Your List of Tasks and Projects
Describe which operations are required for each process and map out an interim workflow with clearly outlined steps. For instance, you may include steps like data collection and storage, proposal drafts, stakeholder management, and quality analysis.
Outline the processes you want automated, things you need done, and the software or human involvement required.
3. Choose a Tool That Can Streamline Those Processes
In this step, select the law practice management software you want to use to implement your legal workflows. The tool you pick is key to ensuring a smooth workflow for you and your clients, so check that it has the right features.
For instance, Docubee’s legal workflow automation solution offers features like:
- Easy digital screening forms for client intake
- Legal workflow templates
- Commercial document automation
- Document generation
- Digital release waivers
- Integration with thousands of apps, without the need for third-party plug-ins
- Standard security and compliant features (ESIGN Act 2000, HIPAA, 24/7 system monitoring)
4. Create The Workflows
Create the workflow in your automation tool, ensuring you include the new processes in your existing workflow to improve business outcomes. Add the required legal templates and benchmarks to ensure all necessary subtasks are accomplished appropriately. Train your employees on the workflow so they’re on the same page about the new changes and how to implement them smoothly.
5. Review and Adapt
Automation doesn’t end at creating the workflow—it’s a continuous improvement project of digitally transforming your law firm. As you automate your processes, review and iterate constantly and tweak any that need improvement.
Implementing Docubee Workflow Software into Your Organization
Workflow automation elevates your team’s productivity and the quality of work your firm produces. This creates improvements and consistency in how work gets done and overall client service.
It all starts with finding the right workflow automation tool. Docubee offers everything you need to streamline your firm’s workflow and reach your goals faster.
Our fully customizable yet simple-to-implement software integrates seamlessly with your existing processes, optimizes your processes, and streamlines your data storage. That way, you can practice law more efficiently.
Ready to implement legal workflow automation in your practice? Try Docubee free today.