Now that you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, whether you are more or less busy than usual, it is the perfect time to automate your law firm. If you’re more busy than usual, this is important to help you save time and money and bill more of the hours that you are working. If you are less busy than usual, this is the perfect time to dedicate time to making your transition back to the office easier! Pro tip: You can also use this downtime to really hone in on your marketing and automate that, too!
Why You Should Automate Your Law Firm
To some, automation sounds scary and gives the impression that you are taking the personal touch out of everything in your firm. However, our favorite definition of automation is the creation of a system that takes repetitive work off of your plate and allows things to happen seamlessly without you thinking about them. This can absolutely mean that another human does the task for you! Whether you automate tasks that your assistant handles or you outsource tasks completely, you don’t have to take the personal touches out of your law firm. And frankly, you shouldn’t!
Automation provides time freedom and ensures that you don’t need to be working on things that aren’t billable. Once you set up a system, it should be able to run over and over again with only your initial hours invested. Can you imagine how much time and money this saves you?! No need, because we found the facts and figures for you:
According to the Clio Legal Trends Report, attorneys spend an average of only 2.5 hours on billable work per day and only actually collect payment for 86% of those hours. In addition, there is data to suggest that you could save up to 9 work weeks each year by automating the repetitive and non-billable tasks. Imagine the number of billable hours you could fit into 9 work weeks!
Can you picture how much simpler and enriching your workday would be if you could set up processes one time and focus solely on your billable work afterward? You signed up to be an attorney. You’re good at being an attorney. You shouldn’t be wasting time each day sending invoices or answering the phone for solicitors or sending marketing emails. Heck, you really shouldn’t even be spending time intaking new clients!
How Automation Will Help You to Work From Home
Whether you are super busy or pretty slow during this pandemic, you are likely juggling work with family. Not to mention, you’re trying to do it all in the same place with no breaks. You can’t really automate your family but you can absolutely automate your work to make the juggle a little easier.
Consider this. Your phone is ringing but you’re in the middle of typing up a client agreement and your child needs help figuring out a math problem and your spouse is asking what you’d like for dinner and your clients are blowing up your inbox with questions. Wouldn’t this scenario be so much less stressful if your phone was being answered by someone else and you know that your client agreement is already typed up and sends when triggered by the previous task and your email has messages drafted and ready to go that cover most of your client FAQs, you just have to hit send? Phew! That run-on sentence was exactly how chaotic this series of events feels when you’re not automating your firm.
Now you can focus on quality time and the client questions that are only applicable to their case. You can spend more working hours on billable work and research. You can focus on helping out with math problems and cooking dinner. Your phone isn’t ringing off the hook and your clients are taken care of in the background. What a dream!
What You Can Automate in Your Law Firm
This is not an all-inclusive list, but it is a great start! Keep in mind that you can automate just about anything you want to; automation can just be another human doing a task for you. Get creative! Is there anything you absolutely dread doing or that takes up a ton of your time? There is likely a way to automate it.
Managing your leads and clients and all of their questions, matters, case notes, etc. can be really tough. There is so much to keep straight! When you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, things get a whole lot easier. If there is a certain process that happens during client intake or after their first call, CRM makes it really easy to automate it. You can set up tasks that trigger based on certain criteria. Say that you have a new client call: You enter their information which triggers an automated email thanking them for their call and informing them of next steps. Then a task triggers to your assistant to reach out and ask follow up questions. Once those answers are input, another task triggers that informs you of what you need to do for their case. The limit of possibilities does not exist! Not to mention, every step is documented so you can easily see what has been done, what emails have been sent, and what still needs to be done.
Make payment processing easy and painless by triggering invoices to be sent after certain tasks are closed or deadlines are met. You can easily draft common and customized invoices for different items or billable hours and link them to your client management so that they send at the proper times. Some payment processing systems will even send reminders when due dates are approaching or pass by, helping to ensure you don’t miss out on getting paid for your hard work.
There are two great ways to automate your scheduling and client intake. We believe that it is best to implement both!
The first is to have a scheduling link on your website that allows clients to put themselves on your calendar. You can set up a thorough intake process that asks all of the pertinent questions and delivers them to your inbox without anyone having to speak to the client to get it. Ease of access is a big selling point for busy clients so the easier you make things on them, the easier things can be on you!
The second is to have someone else schedule appointments and intake new clients for you. There is nothing billable about grabbing information from a PNC and clients are not expecting to get through to the attorney the first time they call. The smart thing to do is to pay someone else to field those calls and ask all of the pertinent questions, then schedule the caller on your calendar under the appropriate appointment type. This one leads right into our next automation.
Answering your own phone calls is for the birds. How many times does someone call you over and over again when you can’t (or just don’t want to) answer? What is the number of calls you miss when you’re in a meeting or having a Zoom appointment with a client? What happens when someone calls while you’re eating lunch and just took a huge bite of your sandwich? How often are your kids screaming or your dog barking in the background while you’re trying to be professional on the phone?
Even if you don’t automate anything else while working from home, this one is a must. Having someone to screen your calls and speak to your clients while relaying the important stuff to you is invaluable and saves more time than you could imagine. Whether this person is an answering service (psst, we’d love to help!) or a full-time receptionist, this automation is the number one thing you can do to make more money while also increasing your productivity. Remember – you’re not getting paid to answer the phone for a telemarketer. At the same time, not answering every time is the quickest way to lose a client.
You may be wondering how you can automate your emails when your inbox is overflowing daily. The answer is easy: Set up templates that answer FAQs. You can use a template as an easy jumping off point if more information needs to be added. However, this is a speedy way to quickly answer those frequently asked questions with the click of a button.
Another option would be to hire a Virtual Assistant to monitor your inbox and reply to those FAQs or to screen your messages. This is really helpful when you get an array of emails and need help keeping them straight. We offer this to our clients who are on our Platinum plan and have heard nothing but raving reviews as to how helpful it is.
Social Media Posting
Social media can be frustrating and time-consuming. One thing that really helps to make social media less difficult is to plan ahead. Schedule your posts ahead of time for the month with different tools like Facebook’s Publishing Tools or Hootsuite. This not only saves you daily frustration, but it saves you the time of switching tasks. When you’re on the spot each day, it can take twice as long to actually make a post. Then you have to consider the time spent refocusing on your important tasks at hand.
Automating your marketing is a huge time saver and one of the top things you need to automate first. Since marketing is what brings you clients in the first place, it just makes sense to spend the time setting it up to run automatically. Make money when you sleep, baby!
The first step is to ask yourself a few questions. What’s already working in your marketing? Do you have a fantastic lead magnet? Are there marketing emails that have gotten great response in the past? Take all of that and create systems so that everything runs seamlessly without your touch. This takes some time but it is hands down so worth it! And if you’re less busy than usual right now, what better to do than set up some money-making systems?
Set up workflows through your CRM to send email sequences to leads, target your traffic through pixels on your website, and never stop using ads that are working. You can also create a monthly campaign calendar that you recycle each year. This helps to keep your marketing fresh without spending too much time on it every month. Simply create your monthly offers and gimmicks for the year once, then reuse what works.
Relish in Your Newfound Time
We hope this helps offer some insight into how you can automate your law firm and make your day-to-day life so much easier! Use that freed up time to hang out with your family or use it to bill more hours, but whatever you do, quit doing the repetitive tasks yourself. Automation is truly the best thing you can do for your law firm in terms of growth (and keeping your sanity).
If you’d like to chat about how we can help with your phones, please give us a call at (800)958-8591.