There’s a chance that even though you love legal tech and the occasional work from home day (or at least the idea that if you needed to do it, you could work from home), you had zero plans to become a virtual lawyer. And yet here you are, like it or not, at home (hopefully) working. Working from home isn’t necessarily easy, but implementing law office automation tactics could make it easier. If you’re not used to working from home on a regular basis, you’re learning how to work from the same space you live in. If you’re married or live with a significant other, have children, have pets, take care of elderly family members, or a mix of any of those, it becomes more than complex. Those complexities impact your work…and your motivation. And as someone who has exclusively worked from home since 2014 with three sons (two who are now grown and one who is now ten and who is autistic and will never leave home because of his delays) and being married, productivity isn’t always easy even for me, an extreme introvert. Oh, and we have three dogs, a cat, and a 60-gallon aquarium. We’ve also had a parakeet and a hamster. While I am not an attorney, I am a paralegal with over a decade of experience. I’ve worked with attorneys who shun legal technology. I know that legal technology can be terrifying.
However, now that the legal industry as a whole has been relegated to our living rooms and home offices (mine of which was once my now ten year old son’s bedroom and has a pretty sweet moon and stars theme happening), so many in our industry are struggling to make the adjustment. And it is an adjustment. This is not going to last forever. I know the end can’t come soon enough for the extroverts and those who enjoy the office environment. Until then, using simple law office automation tactics will hopefully help alleviate some of your stress.
The Oldest Law Office Automation Trick in the Book: Templates for Commonly Used Documents
That’s right…you know them, and maybe you do or don’t love them…but templates for your most commonly used documents are a very basic form of law office automation. If you’re terrified of legal tech, I’m not here to judge. You can use a Word template that allows you to literally just fill in the blanks. You don’t have to do anything fancy or scary…and you don’t need to spend time copying and pasting (or typing out) the entire document over and over again. Sure, you have time, but why not use that time to do something fun, instead?
If you don’t know enough about Word to create a template, talk to your colleagues. You can probably find someone who has a template set up and ready to use who will give you a copy for free. And if you’re giving your template away, scrub it first. If you cannot find anyone, hire someone to do it. There are a lot of talented virtual paralegals and virtual assistants who could do this job for you. Provide them with a copy of the document (remember to scrub it to remove any hidden information) and let them do their job.
Use a Chatbot to Complete Basic Forms
If you’re comfortable with legal tech, you’ll enjoy this law office automation tactic. You can use a chatbot to complete basic forms for you. Ideas of basic forms include, but aren’t limited to LLC documentation, client intake forms, and divorce petitions. For lawpreneurs who offer DIY services and forms without legal representation, chatbots could also be used to complete basic forms and return the finalized documents to the individual who purchased it. Depending on the form or forms that the chatbot is designed to complete, the chatbot could complete the form in as little as ten minutes. Of course, it would still be very important for you to review the form for accuracy.
Automate Social Media Posts
First, a little disclaimer: one mistake that many small business owners (including lawyers) make is to not be social on social media. They talk at others instead of being social and talking to others. Of course, it’s important for you to understand the ethics rules for your jurisdiction related to social media because you certainly don’t want to create the appearance of an attorney-client relationship or what could be perceived as such. You also don’t want to say or do anything you shouldn’t either from an ethical perspective or say or do anything that could tank your reputation. You can use social media to interact with potential clients and showcase your knowledge…but with only so many hours in a day and with the likelihood of less money coming in, how can you get it all done if you’re not sure you can really afford to hire someone to do it for you?
The answer is automation! Buffer offers a free account (and it offered this free account before COVID-19). If you don’t do a lot of social sharing and you plan to do your own social media, a free account will work for you just fine. You can connect it to your Twitter, Facebook business page, and your LinkedIn. If you want to use it for Instagram, you’ll need an Instagram business account. And a paid Buffer account. Buffer only allows so many social media accounts on their free plan. Also the other limitation on the free Buffer account is that you can only store a handful of posts to go out automatically and you get very little analytical information. We use a paid Buffer account here for LawDroid for better analytics. I personally use Zoho Social for their analytics. HootSuite is another option as well as CrowdFire. Between Tom and I, I feel like we’ve probably tried most of the major players. For the price and for one person, my professional opinion is to either use Buffer free or their first level paid account or Zoho Social’s paid account. And we get nothing for saying that (as you can see, there are no links).
Use Voice Assistance Made for Lawyers
If you’re using Clio, you can request access as a beta tester to LawDroid Voice. LawDroid Voice is a voice assistant designed with lawyers in mind. It can be used by you to verbally schedule your appointments and create tasks, read your schedule to you, and even enter data into Clio for you when you tell it to do so. It can even be used to control certain aspects of your law office.
Law Office Automation Helps Lighten Your Workload
Law office automation won’t make COVID-19 go away or make it to where you’ll get back into the office any sooner (or make the courts adopt legal tech…), but it might just help lighten your workload a bit and make life a little easier!
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- Why Legal Design Matters and What You Should Do About It With Tessa Manuello [LawDroid Podcast] - March 3, 2020
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