Doing More With Less

For many lawyers, the impacts of the Coronavirus crisis have created turbulence and stress. While each firm is feeling the impacts differently, things are probably tight at the moment and resources stretched. Now more than ever, you’re needing to do more with less.

That means leveraging what you have, being more resourceful and taking advantage of free and low-cost tools that can take your resources further. Here are some sure-fire ways to achieve this:

Collaborate better

With staff spread out across the city (perhaps even across the state) it’s important to make sure that you’re staying in touch with your team and keeping motivation and morale high. How are staff collaborating now that they aren’t in the office? How are supervisors providing feedback and making sure deadlines are met?

Cloud-based systems like Google Drive and Microsoft Teams are great ways to work together from a distance, with real-time group editing features, intelligent change tracking capabilities and automatic version control. These tools provide a virtual workspace that allows colleagues to work together, even when they are physically apart.

Create your own Intranet

You can also use Google Drive or Microsoft Teams to create your own “Intranet” – ie, a central repository of all important firm information. Use this to document as many of your firm’s practices and procedures as you can, so that, to the extent possible, any team member can perform any task simply by following the instructions. That way, your firm can remain operational and efficient even when your team is reduced or certain staff are unavailable.

Stop worrying about typos

When delegating work, maintaining quality control is a challenge at the best of times. Now, with staff working remotely and your attention turned to the impacts of COVID-19 on your firm, it can be easy for errors to slip through the cracks. For starters, you need someone (or something) else spotting typos, and for that you can try Grammarly, a free, AI-powered grammar checker that aims to not only spell check but also improve your writing. You can even download it as a browser extension so that it also checks your emails for grammatical errors and makes suggestions on improving your tone of voice.

Improve quality control processes

Take quality control to the next level and start exploring document automation – ie, streamlining your document drafting so that the risk of errors is reduced. If you have an existing bank of comprehensively prepared precedents, you can try tools like HotDocs and Contracts Express for automating your own content. That can be a time-consuming process. For an instant solution, Smarter Drafter has a range of prebuilt automated legal documents with technology that enables you to produce a highly customised result, even from an automated system. The Smarter Drafter platform also includes built-in guidance so that, if your team is stretched thin, you can delegate some of the ‘drafting’ work to graduates, paralegals and even legal secretaries without the need for that dreaded red pen.

Outsource your Knowledge Management

The law has never changed faster than it is now. Staying on top of legal updates is a full-time job, but most firms are spread too thinly to fully keep up. You can subscribe to paid services like LawLex and WestLaw, try to follow the news and access free legal updates through services such as LSJ Online but it’s a mammoth task. One of the advantages of using Smarter Drafter is that they keep their range of pre-built automated legal documents up-to-date for you, so you’re automating your drafting and outsourcing your Knowledge Management at the same time. It’s a paid service but you can explore the platform with a 30-day free trial.

Automate your client communications

The simple ability to trigger an action in one application when an event occurs in another can have powerful implications. That’s precisely what Zapier enables you to do. For example, you can automatically add the details of new client enquiries into a Google Sheet to keep track of them, and even queue a series of follow-up emails to be automatically sent to them. Lawyers need to get much better at engaging and nurturing potential clients and “drip-feeding” a series of pre-programmed emails to those who have expressed an interest in your services is an effective way to turn them into clients. In addition to Zapier, you can use tools like MailChimp and Active Campaign to automate and track your email marketing and client engagement emails.

Key actions you might like to take

Based on the above, here are our key recommended actions for you to take:

  1. Start using Google Drive – With its group editing capabilities and easy storage, it can double as both a virtual workspace for your team and an Intranet for documenting your firm’s practices and procedures.
  2. Give Grammarly a try – This spelling and grammar checker is a popular alternative and works in a web browser.
  3. Start a 30-day free trial with Smarter Drafter – Embracing this ready-made document automation platform will boost your productivity whilst tightening up quality control at the same time. It will also enable you to produce high-quality work across more practice areas.
  4. Explore Zapier – This platform for automating actions across multiple separate programs opens a world of automation possibilities and is surprisingly easy to use. They also have some fresh ideas for keeping things fun.