According to a national survey of law firms and legal professionals by LexisNexis and the Law Society of South Africa, around 92 percent of respondents believe that improved use of technology is a priority for the growth of their businesses.
Two technologies, in particular, can help law firms to capture more revenues and reduce operating costs: automated disbursement recovery and digital content management solutions. Today’s tools integrate easily with the office scanning, printing, and faxing equipment, enabling legal firms to digitise more of their processes and transform the way they operate.
Automate disbursements and manage expenses
All too many law firms in South Africa have yet to automate disbursement recovery, with the result that they fail to recover some of the costs they should bill to clients. The impact on revenue is significant, since most firms put a markup on their expenses. Even worse, filing the paperwork for expenses such as email, telephone calls, copying, printing and faxing can consume time that could be used for billable work instead.
Disbursement management and recovery software automates processes so that lawyers, attorneys and their assistants can keep track of every transaction and file accurate cost reports for every case. That means that no cost will be forgotten because a legal professional meant to file it later—a quick win that translates into direct profits.
By putting an automated disbursement recovery solution in place, most law firms can improve recovery by at least 40%. Automated disbursement recovery solutions integrate with practice management solutions such as LegalSuite and GhostConvey to simplify the process of recording costs, allocating them to accounts or clients and recovering them. These solutions also provide reports and auditing information – enhancing cost control in the business.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software
Many corporate and public sector clients are now asking their legal firms to digitise their workflows and records to improve efficiencies and controls. Even without these demands from clients, law firms can benefit from putting software in place that helps them to store and manage electronic records (including paper documents, video and voice files) in a repository in the cloud or on a server.
These solutions mean that legal professionals can access legal documents remotely so they can work on a case from anywhere without dragging a box of files around. Several people can work on the same case file, no matter where they are, which omits delays in processing. They also make it simple to securely share information with clients or other parties involved in a case.
A good ECM platform will make it easy to locate records, rather than spending hours in a storeroom riffling through paper. One can quickly and easily access, add and update case file information, regardless of format. It’s also possible to secure sensitive information with blackout and whiteout redaction tools, annotate documents with working notes or search a long document for relevant information.
Don’t neglect operational efficiency
While an increasing number of practices are looking at how they can use opportunities such as social media to grow their businesses, many are neglecting how IT to can help them improve efficiencies and profits. Technologies such as ECM and automated disbursement recovery can deliver significant savings to the bottom-line while transforming the way law firms work.
By JP Lourens