Category Archives: Legal Document Automation

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time management

5 Tips to Make Your Law Firm More Efficient

As the old saying goes, “Time is money,” and that’s especially true for attorneys and billable hours. Making your practice more efficient will ultimately make it more profitable, so it’s worth setting aside a little of that precious time to think about where your inefficiencies lie and what you can do to change them. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Go Paperless
Or at least consider making do with less paper. This small change will not only reduce cost and clutter, it will make your practice more efficient. The potential benefits (reduced costs and labor, inexpensive and easily searchable document storage, improved client communication and storage) far outweigh the objections (hackers, computers crashing), especially when there are now solid solutions for these objections (back-up power, off-site data storage, firewalls and more). It may be tough to transition at first, but you’ll be glad you did.

2) Don’t Multi-task
Multi-tasking may seem efficient, but the reality is that it’s one of the least efficient things you can do. Dividing your attention between two or more tasks at one time ends up increasing the time it takes to complete each task. Try giving your undivided attention to one task at a time, and you’ll likely find that your remember things more clearly and that you spend less time searching for emails, tasks and pieces of paper (which you are using less of, right?).

3) Utilize Case Management Software
Case management software helps run processes and keeps workflow moving. Designed to help you manage client information, cases and business matters, case management software makes it easier to manage, protect and share information, as well as track and shape your cases to make them more manageable.

4) Track Your Time
Keep track of how you’re spending your time (whether it’s with a timekeeping program or with practice management software) and learn to recognize inefficiencies in your routine. Tracking and reviewing how you spend your time may seem like busy work, but ultimately the records will help you see where you’re wasting time, and hopefully galvanize you to take steps to weed out those inefficiencies.

5) Use Document Automation Software
Document automation software plays a critical role in providing legal services in an efficient and effective manner. By automating the creation of repeatedly used legal documents, you can avoid the hassle of finding the right form to use and stop cutting/pasting the same information over and over again. You save time, increase consistency across staff members and multiply your billable hours.

There’s no time like the present to start making your practice more efficient. Start with a free trial of JurisDOC’s document automation software.

JurisDOC makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. The software also tracks hours, generates invoices and tracks payments, so you can spend your time doing what you do best. Click here to get started.


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Why Good Legal Accounting Matters

I became a lawyer because I enjoy practicing law.

But, as many who have opened their own law firms know, running a business means wearing a few different hats. And, one of the most uncomfortable hats you might wear is one of an accountant.

Legal firms present unique challenges, even for professional accountants. One reason is the complicated nature of the law. Legal accounting requirements involve so much more than “money in, money out.” Client trust accounts, recovery of costs advanced, alternative fee arrangements, and other intricate law firm accounting standards can make some CPAs’ heads spin.

So unless you are independently wealthy and plan to work strictly pro bono, you must understand how to keep your business afloat. Good accounting practices are more than important – they will provide the life preserver your business will cling to in choppy waters.

All Dollars Are Not Created Equal
All funds received by your firm are not categorized the same way. As you may know, retainers and client trust accounts are legally not the property of the firm until work has been done, invoiced, and approved by the client.

Those monies should be kept separately from an account being used for general expenses and money paid on invoices. Personal injury settlements should also be kept isolated from funds belonging to the firm. Keeping everything discrete will avoid problems with compliance issues, as well as improve accounting clarity.

Timing Is Everything: Clock Your Hours
From research to client calls to contract negotiations – a lawyer’s time is a client’s money well spent. Or, at least it should be. Accurately capturing the billable hours of everyone in your office is more critical than ever as clients become increasingly educated on standard rates and competitive pricing across the industry.

Work-in-progress tracking requires a commitment from all lawyers and your team’s supporting staff. Without a clear view to differentiate billed hours versus what is documented in each invoice, your firm won’t know where earnings might be lost. Choose accounting software created especially for law firms to track hours and billing; it will distinguish between items like indirect and direct matter costs, reimbursements versus regular billings and alternative fee arrangements. And, this may go without saying, but good software will ensure client invoices are being paid timely and not languishing.

Decrease Overhead to Gain the Upper Hand
Most lawyers heading up small firms know that while revenue may be variable each month, expenses tend to be fixed. Rent and electricity are non-negotiable – even for the best lawyers! Working to keep overhead down and focusing on profitability rank high on the to-do lists of most law firms.

Maintain a central database system to allow you to keep accounting and practice management in one place. This can cut down on manual data entry and reduce discrepancies. Invest in technology to improve the efficacy of your office. Automate your legal documents with legal form software. Submit bills electronically and cut down on paper and ink.

Good accounting practices may not be the most exciting part of running a law firm, but if profitability is high on your priority list (and I assume it is), it’s a critical step towards your firm’s success.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how our automated document assembly software can make your law office more efficient and profitable, you should consider a free trial of JurisDOC. There’s no better way to see how quickly you can save time — and money!


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Legal Document Automation: What’s Stopping You?

I tend to repeat certain phrases when I talk to people about legal document assembly software. Increased productivity. Time and money savings. Overall profitability.

Because, after all the years I spent authoring and re-authoring pleadings and documents myself, the idea of using software is a no-brainer.

Many of my fellow lawyers agree. The 2015 American Bar Association Tech Reportsection on solo and small firms noted that 44%-50% of lawyers have access to document assembly software. The report also stated that almost 58% of respondents indicated that they budgeted for legal technology in 2015.

Of course, as the CEO and founder of JurisDOC, a legal document assembly software company, I’m a bit biased when it comes to the benefits of automation in the legal field.

That said, I sometimes hear legitimate concerns from other lawyers as they think about switching over from their tried-and-true method of manual document manipulation to software that does the job for them. Perhaps one of the following reasons for waiting is yours.

“It’s too expensive.”
Streamlining operating expenses is always a critical concern, especially for smaller firms. And, obviously, purchasing assembly software requires an upfront investment.

But, time, as they say, is money. Consider the amount of time you or your staff spend manually recreating or “cutting and pasting” words and phrases to generate legal documents for each new case.

Time that you could be using to, gee, I don’t know…find new clients, market your services, focus on research, play golf. You get the picture. Creating a new level of efficiency for your office will absolutely save you money, sooner than you think.

There are different priced tiers of software available, but unlike some software companies that nickel-and-dime you for customizable features, JurisDOC offers a flat monthly fee for unlimited use of all our software has to offer.

“Why would I want to cut down on billable client hours?”
Very few lawyers got into this business to run a charity, and the idea of being efficient at the risk of having to charge less overall can be a complicated issue.

Perhaps it’s time to reframe your thinking on the value you offer your client. A faster and improved level of service is a key benefit. One that can lead to more work, improved client relationships, more referrals, and ta da! More billable hours! The ability to convert part of your fee structure from hourly to flat can also improve customer satisfaction by eliminating hidden costs.

“I’m doing fine without it.”
Change can be challenging, especially within the sometimes traditional, conservative culture of the legal profession.

But, in his book “The End of Lawyers?“ Richard Susskind noted that document assembly software is one of 10 “disruptive technologies” that have radically altered the face of the legal profession.

The demand for faster and cheaper has led many would-be clients to seek out online services that have replaced the traditional role of lawyers. If you are not embracing this evolution of change, you’re going to lose business. Maybe not today, but definitely in the future.

“It will take too long for me and my team to learn it.”
Like every other technology, document automation has evolved from the old method of cutting and pasting from previously drafted forms to intelligently-merged document templates with existing data. Ease-of-use needs to be a critical selling point for any software provider.

JurisDOC provides a comprehensive collection of forms and pleadings that cover more than 10 keys areas of law including divorce, adoption, criminal defense, trusts, and wills. User-friendly, the software allows you to collect, edit, or add all the law forms you need to complete your casework.

Plus, we train your team on how to use the forms. With a QuickStart package, we’ll convert forms for you, plus you get administrator training, user training, and technical support.

So, what’s holding YOU back? JurisDOC can help you operate with the efficiency and profitability of a much larger office, but I’ll let you be the judge. Click here to try JurisDOC for free.


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Civil Legal Aid…and Justice for Some

The term “justice” can be found within the first few words of the Constitution, but for the 80% of low income individuals facing civil legal issues threatening their homes, jobs or families, it’s a concept that might be out of reach.

Here’s a grim statistic: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 63 million people qualify for free legal assistance, and 50% of those seeking civil legal help are turned away for lack of resources. Folks who might be the most in need of quality legal assistance with civil matters – those living below the poverty line or close to it – can’t access it half of the time.

How did we get here?

If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, None Will Be Provided for You
As you and I know, unlike criminal legal aid which guarantees accused offenders free assistance, civil legal help is not a right. It’s provided by a variety of sources – from nonprofit organizations, state and other government-funded programs to small private foundations and pro-bono work.

A lot of that funding comes from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a government sanctioned non-profit organization set up in 1974 to support grantees that operate civil legal assistance programs at various government levels. However, there are limitations on whom the LSC can help. Financial eligibility and citizenship status can still prevent those in need from getting aid.

Sadly, three economic recessions since the 1980s have affected the accessibility of civil legal aid in two ways: through budget cuts to critical programs and an increase in unemployment, which in turn creates larger need for those very programs. A disheartening catch-22, to say the least.

What’s being done to dig civil legal aid out of this hole? I’m glad you asked.

LSC: Let’s Get with the Program
The current government administration has committed to expand civil legal aid on a federal level through increased funding to the LSC and the elimination of certain restrictions on whom it’s allowed to help.

Initiatives developed by the Justice Department like the Access to Justice Initiative and the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable help facilitate targeted federal grant programs. State funding is also increasing, as are more integrated systems across the country to support the delivery of help where it’s needed.

Technology: Advancing the Disadvantaged
Access to information about available legal help is becoming more obtainable than ever before through the internet and other technologies. Every state across the U.S. now has a website designed to provide community legal education information and resources for legal assistance.

Many even offer advanced functionalities like video conferencing to connect remote folks in need with local attorneys. In fact, just this past month, LSC announced a partnership with Microsoft and Pro Bono Net to create online statewide portals designed to provide a simple, “one-stop shop” for low income and vulnerable individuals searching for legal aid.

JurisDOC: Doing Our Part
In 2014, the LSC committed to providing “some form of assistance to 100% of persons otherwise unable to afford an attorney for dealing with essential legal needs.” Taking advantage of available technologies is a huge part of that mission, which includes creating automated forms and legal documents to support self-help and limited scope legal assistance – which is a big part of what we are all about here at JurisDOC.

We want to help deliver justice into the hands of those who need it. That’s why we’re offering JurisDOC software to nonprofit legal aid providers—at no cost. Please share this post with any attorneys you know who are working for a nonprofit to provide legal aid services. Not involved in legal aid? You can still try JurisDOC in a 7-day free trial.

If you’d like more information about a free trial, feel free to contact me and check out our website.


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Good Client Service vs. Firm Profitability . . . Why Not Both?

These days, clients are demanding better service for less. Providing good client service, however, does not have to come at the expense of your firm’s profitability. In fact, if approached properly, the two will go hand in hand. It’s all a matter ofmaking smart changes.

Value Pricing
You probably already know where I’m headed with this: alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). Clients want law firms to explore alternatives to hourly billing in order to obtain legal services at prices that reflect how they value these services, not just how the law firm values them.

That’s not to say that the clients are the only winners with this type of arrangement. Alternative billing should be based on what’s fair and reasonable to the client and the lawyer—that way you both come out on top.

Of course, clients perceive value in a variety of ways. The key to pricing legal services effectively is to understand what your client values most in their engagement with you (reputation, speed, highly specialized expertise, etc.), and to establish pricing accordingly.

In addition to being a fairer way to price your services, AFAs demonstrate that you care about what the client values. Clients who feel valued become loyal clients, who are more likely to return and to recommend you to others.

Staffing
As you well know, much of what goes on in legal work does not actually require highly experienced attorneys, so there’s no need to require clients to pay exorbitant prices for work that can be done for less. Several staffing alternatives offer equivalent work product at better cost-efficiency to clients.

Legal process outsourcing firms (LPOs) can provide routine contracts, legal research, document review, discovery, and intellectual property (IP) services. Experienced, former “Big Law” attorneys and in-house lawyers can be contracted on a project-by-project basis and their services provided directly to clients.

You can also reduce the costs affiliated with associates who are on track to partnership by hiring flex-time, part-time and temporary associates as needed. Traditionally, these attorneys accept lower salaries and ask for fewer benefits than lawyers on a partner track.

Another way to contain staff costs is to decrease the ratio of legal assistants to lawyers. Savings can go straight to the bottom line, or put toward the addition of personnel in litigation support, IT, marketing, project management, pricing, or any other area where your firm needs more staffing.

Efficiency
One of the biggest struggles for law firms today is increasing efficiency in order to remain competitive. Clients are happy when you do your work efficiently and happy clients are the ones that keep you in business, so it’s in your best interest to find ways to improve practice management, accomplish more work in a given time, and to do a better job. One of best ways to do this is to embrace legal technology.

Case management software makes it easier to manage, protect, and share information, as well as track and shape your cases to make them more manageable. Timekeeping software or practice management software helps you maximize efficiency by tracking and analyzing how firm personnel—including you—spend work hours.

Document automation software saves time for you and your staff by helping to select proper forms and completing them to the extent possible. Your team works with a database of forms to customize documents and build templates that can be used for individual cases and across the firm—reducing time spent on assembling documents, hunting for forms, and correcting inconsistencies.

Excellent client service and firm profitability don’t have to be competing goals. While it may require a little more initial effort, adopting alternatives such as AFAs, new staffing models, and legal technology is worth the investment. Your clients will thank you, and so will your bottom line.

JurisDOC provides document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. The software also tabulates hours, prepares client invoices and tracks received payments. Learn more at our website or click here to download a free trial of the software now.


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Billable Hours Only Pay Off When You Actually Get Paid

One of the most frustrating experiences as an attorney is when your client refuses to pay. You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears (or at least a significant amount of brain power) into their work, and now you’re not going to reap the reward. While there’s no way to 100% ensure that you get paid for the work you do as an attorney, there are ways to improve your billing efficiency and make your clients feel more inclined to pay their bills, so you don’t end up getting stiffed.

#1 Set expectations ahead of time
It’s in everyone’s best interest to discuss the fee arrangement with the client before you start the case, and especially before you send any bills. Make sure your client has a complete understanding of what you will charge for your services, and put the fee agreement in writing, even if your jurisdiction does not require a written engagement agreement. You and the client both can refer to the document if there are ever misunderstandings about the bill.

#2 Provide clear & detailed invoices
Provide detail, but make it simple. The bill should be easy for the client to understand, but it should also adequately convey the legal services you performed. Don’t use shorthand or abbreviations that the client may not know or understand.

And the description areas for time entries exist for a reason – use them! Let the client know specifically what tasks were performed on their behalf. It may even be a good idea to walk your client through the first bill, so they fully understand what they are charged for. Explain each individual charge and the work that was completed, and make sure to answer any questions that arise.

#3 Keep fees reasonable
If your hourly fee is considered appropriate, but a lack of legal experience results in your spending an excessive amount of time on a routine task, the amount you ultimately bill will not be appropriate after all. Or if you worked on a document and then had to revise it because you discovered a fundamental error, clients won’t want to pay for that extra time.

Clients are paying for you to get it right, efficiently, the first time. With that in mind, include all of your work in the invoice (so that the client knows exactly what you have worked on), but make a note by any excessive time to let the client know that they won’t be charged for that time.

#4 Make getting paid easy with legal technology
As always (or at least, almost always), technology is your friend. Software specifically designed for lawyers will help streamline billing processes and make your life – and your clients’ lives – a lot easier.

We can’t strong-arm your clients into paying their bills, but we can provide you with simple and effective software for billing those clients. Start with a free trial of JurisDOC’s document automation and client invoicing software and start reaping the rewards today. Find your free trial at https://www.jurisdocpro.com/download.


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Build or Buy? How to Choose Legal Document Assembly Software

One reason some law firms hesitate to start using document assembly software is because they don’t fully understand how it works. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right?

The problem with this thinking is that you end up missing out on an easy way to save money and make your processes more efficient—and achieve the golden goose of fewer hours spent on paperwork, more hours spent on billable work. There’s a reason Richard Susskind named document assembly as one of ten disruptive technologies altering the face of the legal profession—it really works! Here’s how:

Created in the late 1970s, document assembly software has only recently really started catching on with lawyers. It automates the creation of legal documents that are used repeatedly, like wills, leases, contracts and letters. The goal is to replace the time-consuming and repetitive manual completing (read “copying and pasting”) of documents with a template-based system. After you select a template, the software asks a series of questions and uses your answers to populate the template and provide you with a finished document, thereby saving you time on document preparation.

Seth Rowland and Rose Rowland, of legal technology consultancy Basha Systems, LCC, divide document assembly software into two categories: Buy and Build.

With “buy” software, a system of pre-crafted legal documents gives you the ability to select a document, answer a series of questions, and produce a finished document in less than 15 minutes. These systems make document preparation about as fast and simple as it can get.

“Build” software offers a do-it-yourself approach. You build your own automated templates, using your own words, your own rules and your own intake forms. Some systems allow you to build templates on your desktop, while others are web-based solutions. Build systems require more time initially but offer an excellent option if you prefer to customize language in documents.

The kind of document assembly software that will work best for your firm depends on your preferences, but rest assured you will find software available that will work for you and can be customized to fit your exact needs.

If you’re interested in testing the waters before committing, start with a free trial of JurisDOC software, and see how it can be useful in your practice—saving time and turning that time into money. Find your free trial at https://www.jurisdocpro.com/download.


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5 Tips to Make Your Law Firm More Efficient

As the old saying goes, “Time is money,” and that’s especially true for attorneys and billable hours. Making your practice more efficient will ultimately make it more profitable, so it’s worth setting aside a little of that precious time to think about where your inefficiencies lie and what you can do to change them. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Go Paperless
Or at least consider making do with less paper. This small change will not only reduce cost and clutter, it will make your practice more efficient. The potential benefits (reduced costs and labor, inexpensive and easily searchable document storage, improved client communication and storage) far outweigh the objections (hackers, computers crashing), especially when there are now solid solutions for these objections (back-up power, off-site data storage, firewalls and more). It may be tough to transition at first, but you’ll be glad you did.

2) Don’t Multi-task
Multi-tasking may seem efficient, but the reality is that it’s one of the least efficient things you can do. Dividing your attention between two or more tasks at one time ends up increasing the time it takes to complete each task. Try giving your undivided attention to one task at a time, and you’ll likely find that your remember things more clearly and that you spend less time searching for emails, tasks and pieces of paper (which you are using less of, right?).

3) Utilize Case Management Software
Case management software helps run processes and keeps workflow moving. Designed to help you manage client information, cases and business matters, case management software makes it easier to manage, protect and share information, as well as track and shape your cases to make them more manageable.

4) Track Your Time
Keep track of how you’re spending your time (whether it’s with a timekeeping program or with practice management software) and learn to recognize inefficiencies in your routine. Tracking and reviewing how you spend your time may seem like busy work, but ultimately the records will help you see where you’re wasting time, and hopefully galvanize you to take steps to weed out those inefficiencies.

5) Use Document Automation Software
Document automation software plays a critical role in providing legalservices in an efficient and effective manner. By automating the creation of repeatedly used legal documents, you can avoid the hassle of finding the right form to use and stop cutting/pasting the same information over and over again. You save time, increase consistency across staff members and multiply your billable hours.

There’s no time like the present to start making your practice more efficient. Start with a free trial of JurisDOC’s document automation software.

JurisDOC makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. The software also tracks hours, generates invoices and tracks payments, so you can spend your time doing what you do best. Find your free trial at https://www.jurisdocpro.com/download.


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Apps & Automation: Is Your Law Firm Taking Advantage of Tech Trends

To remain competitive in today’s business environment, law firms need to be aware of the technology trends impacting the field and understand how to leverage these trends to maximize their productivity and profits. These are some of the current trends in the field:

E-Discovery: Predictive Coding
Predictive coding is changing e-discovery document review by making it easier than ever to identify relevant and privileged documents. Combining e-discovery software with artificial intelligence (AI), predictive coding finds and ranks relevant documents, so you save time on manual review and substantially decrease the amount of money spent on e-discovery.

Digital Legal Libraries
Most legal books will soon be available as apps, which are available at lower prices. With legal book apps, you no longer have to worry about compatibility or download another e-book viewer. You can rent these books from online stores or from the publisher’s site for a specific price and period of time (after which, it will expire). Many legal publishers are already taking steps toward this model, and its popularity and availability is expected to increase.

Cloud Computing
Cloud based computing is becoming the norm. Cloud providers are strengthening their security measures and providing specialized protections for sensitive information, so you can let go of your regulatory worries and concerns about data security. It’s time to embrace the cloud.

Social Media
As social media marketing continues its upward trajectory in the legal world, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon if you haven’t already. If you think that social media is only for teens and “friends,” reconsider: You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other social media to demonstrate expertise, build a following, develop relationships, and generate more exposure for your business.

Document Automation Software
Document automation software plays a critical role in providing legal services in an efficient and effective manner. By automating the creation of legal documents that are used repeatedly, you can avoid the hassle of finding the right form to use and cutting/pasting the same information over and over again. You save time, increase consistency across staff members, and increase your billable hours.

Taking advantage of the legal technology that’s out there will help ensure your business’ success. JurisDOC can help your practice run more smoothly with our legal document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents.

Now is the time to invest in document automation. Start with free use of JurisDOC, and see how it can be useful in your practice—saving time and turning that time into money. Find your free trial at https://www.jurisdocpro.com/download.


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The ROI of Document Automation

Ever heard the saying sometimes you have to spend money in order to make money? In the case of document software, this couldn’t be more accurate. Yes, you’ll have to spend some money on the software, but what you end up saving as a result makes the software worth more than its weight in gold.

When used consistently, document assembly software can save an attorney 15-30 minutes, or more, each day. Time that could be spent on work that you can bill your client. Those minutes may not sound like much, but 30 minutes per day—every day—start to add up. Consider:

30 minutes/day x 5 days/week= 150 minutes per
150 minutes/week x 48 weeks/year= 120 hours per year

Let’s say you’ve got an attorney making $200/hr.

120 hours/year x $200/hr= $24,000 per year

$24,000 per year! And that’s just one attorney. Think about how much money your firm makes if every attorney in your office saves that much money each year! You have the potential to generate the equivalent of one or two full-time staff members. Isn’t that worth it?

Now is the time to invest in document automation. Start with free use of JurisDOC software, and see how it can be useful in your practice—saving time and turning that time into money. Find your free trial at https://www.jurisdocpro.com/download.


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