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In the legal world, time is money. Most law offices determine their fees through billable hours, the amount of time that the legal team spent on different tasks for a client. However, many of the logistical tasks that run the office do not make money for the firm. For example, you cannot bill clients for the time the office staff spends on the billing process itself. By automating some of these tasks with dedicated law firm software, your law office can free up more time for meaningful client services.
Law office billing is a critical but time-consuming task. Legal professionals are mandated to observe reasonable billing practices. Like medical offices, many law firms use standardized billing codes such as the Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard. These codes are only effective if the office staff members enter information correctly. Errors in billing can lead to client disputes that take even more time, delay payments and can even lead to lawsuits against the firm.
Well-designed legal software uses algorithms that learn the patterns of legal work and assign codes properly. Such AI-empowered software will streamline the entire billing process. Importantly, these programs can also point out charges that a client is likely to dispute. For example, online access to case law has made legal research a much simpler process. If a legal team is spending too much time on such research, a warning from the billing software will either prepare the team to justify the extra time or encourage them to improve their research practices.
A great deal of a law firm's work happens outside the drama of a courtroom. Depending on the type of practice, a lawyer may spend most of his or her time drafting contracts, wills and divorce agreements. All of these documents require careful attention to detail. A small mistake can lead to a contested will or a broken contract down the line.
In the past, lawyers had to spend hours reading and rereading documents looking for errors or other points of disputation. Advances in machine learning make it possible to minimize the amount of time it takes to examine these documents. With the right information, law firm software can learn how to find the portions of a contract that deserve a second look. For the lawyer, this means less time going over boilerplate language and more time spent on meaningful tasks. For the law firm, it increases the number of document-based tasks that the legal team can handle.
Using machine learning can also improve the difficult task of splitting assets in a divorce. This legal function is always fraught with emotion. When an AI program receives the list of assets, it can produce several different fair, reasonable ways to make the division. These scenarios can also take into account the priorities of the parties involved. For example, if one spouse wants to try to leave his or her pension funds untouched, the program will automatically change the distribution of assets.
When drafting wills and contracts, a fair amount of time is spent in fact-checking. The assets mentioned in one document need to match the record of assets in other financial documents. Because a computer program can sift through mountains of information quickly, a task that would have taken hours can be done in a few minutes. The program can search the relevant documents and return any discrepancies.
Cloud-based computing is having an impact on every industry. Any competent legal software development team will take advantage of this technology. In a law firm, there are several important ways that a cloud-based solution will benefit the legal team.
Cloud-based computing makes it easy to share documents, pictures and other files. For a legal team, this means that everyone will have access to the same information at the same time. The team can even edit documents cooperatively. This allows for a level of version control that is not available when the office is making physical copies of documents. With a cloud-computing platform, you will know that your whole team is looking at the latest version.
Some larger legal firms cover a large geographic area or work with clients in different parts of the country and world. Cloud-based legal firm solutions mean that your staff members can retrieve information wherever they may be. A forgotten file does not have to be a crisis.
In the middle of a trial, lawyers take notes as they listen to testimony and consider how to design an effective strategy. A cloud-based notetaking application allows these notes to live online for review at any time. If other team members have access to the notes, they can start doing the research to develop a strategy while the trial is in session.
Every case a law firm handles has its own set of supporting documents, contact information and scheduled tasks. Since a law firm will address several cases at once, it can be difficult to keep everything in order. Online case management will make it easy to find all the information you need on your computer, phone or tablet.
Just as you can streamline the billing process with software designed for law firms, you can also make the payment process simpler for your clients. With a cloud-based online payment system, your clients do not have to wait until the office is open to pay you for your services. This will help your law firm shorten the turnaround time for revenue.
Legal software development is a challenging task. A team that creates software for legal professionals must develop programs that combine the best organizational practices with the unique needs of the legal world. The right law firm software solution will enable your practice to serve more clients in an efficient way.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
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