Starting a new law firm isn’t just about practicing law; it’s also about running a business. So preparing requires strategic planning, financial considerations, proper use of technology, and an assessment of your current effectiveness in using technology.
Below are the main considerations related to technology.
Case Management Software
Case management software helps law firms manage their cases, including details about clients, case information, documents, billing, and schedules. It improves efficiency and helps keep things organized.
Examples include Clio, MyCase, or PracticePanther. When selecting software, consider your firm’s specific needs, budget, ease of use, and compatibility with other systems.
Legal Research Tools
Platforms like Westlaw and LexisNexis are crucial for legal research. They provide access to case law, statutes, legal journals, and other resources. You’ll need to factor in the cost of these services.
This includes email, video conferencing tools (like Zoom or Microsoft Teams), and potentially a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system. Secure, encrypted email options might be necessary for confidential communications. Also, consider the use of email automation.
Software like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace will be necessary for creating and managing documents. You might also consider a document management system (DMS) like NetDocuments.
In addition, e-signature tools (like DocuSign) can facilitate the easy and legal signing of documents digitally.
Billing & Accounting
It’s essential to keep accurate and precise financial records. Software can assist with time tracking, issuing invoices, managing expenses, and overall financial reporting. QuickBooks and FreshBooks are popular choices.
Cloud Storage & Backup
Cloud storage solutions (like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive) are useful for storing and sharing documents. These tools often come with backup and recovery options, which can be crucial if data is lost or compromised.
Ensure any solution you use is secure and complies with legal confidentiality requirements.
Protecting client data is an ethical obligation for law firms. You’ll need antivirus software, firewalls, and password managers. Encrypted communication, secure Wi-Fi systems, and staff training on phishing and other common threats can also be part of a robust cybersecurity strategy.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), and tools like ChatGPT, are taking root in the legal profession. A.I. is increasingly used for tasks like legal research, contract analysis, and predicting the outcomes of legal decisions.
Such tools might offer competitive advantages but consider their cost, usefulness, and reliability.