Key Software Areas for Legal Process Improvement

When it comes to barriers to efficiency, law firms often indicate that paper and a lack of technology slow down processes (see chart below). While law firms can’t necessarily control the kinds of tools clients have access to, they can bolster their own capabilities through new productivity software. This blog post will examine several areas of software that can benefit legal practices.

Please rate how you agree or disagree with “barriers” that can potentially slow down processes.

(Mean responses; 1 is completely disagree, 5 is completely agree)

Source: Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends primary research

Document management

With most law practices highly engaged with paperwork, it is important that these documents are handled and stored in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. This is where document management software comes into play. This software involves converting paper into electronic documents as well as routing, editing, classifying, storing, and sharing these documents effectively. This enables relevant parties to easily access, retrieve, and manipulate the files.

Transcription/voice recognition software

One common holdup in many practices is transcription. Many organizations still take notes by hand, and then enter these into a computer. Others, meanwhile, enter what is being said directly into a computer. These tend to be time-consuming and costly approaches, however, that often require dedicated staff to perform transcription and data entry. Fortunately, recent advances in speech-to-text/transcription technology have made it much more accurate. These capabilities vary from the simple Microsoft Word function, to more expensive dedicated voice recognition software packages.

Electronic research

Law practices were among the first workplaces to take advantage of digital research, first with CD and DVD services and then online. Today, research services are available for specialized law practices; more general services from vendors like LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters (which owns Westlaw and other services) are also in the market. While many practices currently incorporate electronic methods of research into their workflows, new features, functionality, and/or processes may be worth considering.

Leveraging the cloud

Organizations that are adding or replacing automated systems are encouraged to consider the cloud. Online applications are available for almost every area of practice; in some cases, they are the newest and most capable versions of the application. Furthermore, cloud-based applications tend to offer flexible contracts such as monthly subscriptions and billing.

Summary

Many law firms report that paper-based processes and a lack of automation are stifling productivity in their organizations. As such, it may be wise for them to consider investing in productivity software in areas like document management, note-taking, and research. These tools, including their cloud-based versions, can dramatically reduce the time it takes to perform tasks.