With this year’s deadline for the American Legal Technology Awards nominations just around the corner (July 31, 2022), it’s a great time to discuss legal technology solution basics. There are still so many law firms, enterprises with legal departments, courts, access to justice projects, and solo practitioners out there who could benefit from legal technology and aren’t sure where to start. Why don’t they know where to start? Because, if we put ourselves into their shoes, it’s clear: there’s a lot of information and options out there…and gaining clarity on what everything does is, at best, mind-numbing.
So, my purpose here is singular: legal technology solutions basics in ten minutes (or less…the “or less” is if you decide to pick and choose your way through the sub-headers to read only what you wish to learn).
Legal Technology Solutions That Operate “on” the Cloud
Simply put, the legal tech you’re using, whatever it does (and we will get to that), doesn’t install all or many files to your computer. It’s all stored online. No, not on Google Drive, DropBox, or ClickUp. If you’re using a service designed specifically for lawyers, such as Clio, it’s more secure, and you are then more likely to fully ensure that you’re compliant with the ethical standards in the jurisdictions in which you’re admitted.
You can download specific files from the cloud to your computer, laptop, or maybe even your phone, depending on the file. However, the cloud acts as a central storage and access location. It helps ensure that any changes made to a client’s document, for example, are done in one location. Then, you don’t have 12 copies of the same document floating around on 12 different computers or in 12 separate folders that no one knows about. That is, of course, a very simple example, but it serves the purpose of explaining one purpose of the cloud well. (You could also access all the changes, a history of those changes, and restrict who can make changes, but that’s an article for another time, friends.)
Simple Legal Technology Solutions You Can Start With (And What They Do)
So, legal technology can be purchased separately. You can also find one or more legal tech providers offering pre-packaged solutions that fit your needs (hopefully).
Legal chatbots. You probably have a general idea of what a legal chatbot is based on the name. But what does it really do? AND IS IT COMING FOR YOUR JOB? Let me start with the second answer…no, it’s not coming for your job. But it can make your job easier. You’ve probably used a chatbot dozens of times…happily or not so much. When done correctly, chatbots are amazing. When they’re not done well, chatbots, regardless of industry are annoying.
A legal chatbot can answer basic questions from website visitors. So, think about the common questions people call you or your receptionist and ask. Sure, you’ll still get a few calls because some people prefer the phone. Still, for the rest of the world who prefer the instant gratification provided by the internet, your chatbot could offer suggestions of questions, or it could ask basic questions such as, “What can I do for you?” It could then accept basic inquiries and return suggestions for answers, such as your practice pages or specific FAQ answers along with, “Did this help answer your question?”
A legal chatbot can also be used to collect a website visitor’s information. From newsletters to consultation scheduling, you can make the information collecting process more personal for the visitor. Forms are cold. Working with a chatbot has a warmer feeling.
Chatbots are less expensive than live operators. Live operators are excellent, but AI is the way to go if you’re on a budget and still want to give that 24/7/365 feel for collecting information and answering questions that the internet generation now wants. You can purchase it separately or as part of a package of legal technology solutions.
Related: LawDroid Lesson: AI and Chatbots 101
Legal chatbots can help deliver answers to the most commonly asked questions for access to justice entities and even courts with self-help options. It can also help by taking a client or pro se petitioner or defendant’s information, entering it into forms chosen by this person, and delivering the information back to the person using the chatbot. This can save the access to justice entity or the court time and money since it helps negate the need to hire additional people.
Law Firm Automation: What Is It? How Does It Work
In its simplest form, law firm automation means having some kind of legal technology solution that automatically does whatever it is supposed to do. Here’s a simple example of automation. Have you ever set a recurring event on your calendar? Maybe it was a monthly or even a yearly recurrence. My calendar includes monthly recurrences, yearly recurrences (birthdays, for example), and even weekly recurrences.
When you have a recurrence on your calendar, that’s automation. You don’t have to reschedule it over and over again. It pops up. It reminds you (if you set the reminder). Do you have to move it or cancel it manually? Yes.
Many billing and invoicing programs also have automation features, but you must set them up. Imagine getting a report weekly or monthly on outstanding invoices automatically generated and delivered to the appropriate person in your law firm. What if your recurring expenses could populate themselves? Those are simple examples of automation. And many legal technology solutions, such as Clio’s billing and payments system, offer these automations and many others. I want to keep it simple.
Client intake is another very popular area that is often automated with legal tech. Client intake can be automated in several ways. It can be done with full automation, such as using a client intake platform, or you can use an online intake form that requires the client to complete their intake (saving you or your team time) and provide you with a digital signature. You can also integrate your legal technology platform with a service that provides only online client intake. Before using this final option, make sure they pair with your provider. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing something you think will work well only to find out from your law firm management platform that you can’t use it.
Legal document automation is a huge interest for many lawyers. The catch is deciding what legal document automation means for you. Is it the completion of documents? If so, which documents? Does this include automating legal research? Do you want to include automated document review?
For legal document automation, many documents are fair game…but you should consider starting with just one or two types while you get the hang of it. You could consider letters, agreements, invoices, motions, or practically any sort of document your office produces.
Look at the features if you’ve already chosen a legal technology solutions provider that helps you manage your practice. Does it already include document automation, or can you activate this feature? If the answer is yes, watch the tutorials or reach out to the company for a training session. Never treat your clients or your official firm documents as a testing ground.
Learn More with LawDroid
Legal technology solutions don’t have to be complicated. At LawDroid, we aim to make it easy. That’s why we offer no code options. Learn more about LawDroid now by scheduling your free demo.
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