Whether yours is a smaller solicitors’ practice or barristers’ chamber or one with hundreds of partners and staff spread across a number of different offices, the current coronavirus crisis has greatly and adversely affected everything.
In our experience, leaders within the legal sector are particularly risk-averse and, given the sensitive nature of the work you handle and the need to protect it at all costs, that aversion to risk is of great benefit to clients. A consequence of having this mindset means that the legal sector heads try to prepare their businesses as best as possible for all eventualities so that their firms are robust enough to continue to trade in any economic climate.
The coronavirus crisis is something very different and something very few of us prepared for. For directors and business owners in Britain and further afield, adapting to this temporary new reality has been difficult but not impossible because of how connected people and businesses are now.
In this article, Sprout IT examines the best technology for legal firms to use under the current movement restrictions in the UK so that they can continue to serve client. We’ll consider:
- cloud-based practice management software
- how to share documents with clients not on your cloud
- team-working tools for your colleagues
- remote document signing
Cloud-based practice management software
Given the complex nature of workflow on individual cases, there has been a shift towards the use of practice management software in recent times with the goals of:
- improving profitability,
- more accurate client billing,
- providing a central database of template precedent letters and legal forms,
- better intra-company information management; and
- the automation of tedious and traditionally labour intensive tasks.
Many of these services have now migrated to the cloud so that partners and staff can work remotely or from home if required. You may wish to consider investigating the many options out there currently if you don’t already use one using Sprout IT’s legal cloud to host the software on your behalf.
Sharing documents with clients not on your cloud
Email is particularly susceptible to hacking from bad faith actors – the technology behind it has not really improved in the 50-or-more years since its initial release. In addition, many email servers limit the sizes of documents which can be transferred to 10Mb – often, that’s nowhere near enough for legal documentation particularly if that documentation has been scanned and converted into a PDF.
If your practice management software does not allow clients to log in to a ring-fenced secure area to download documentation, you may wish to consider using one of the filesharing platforms for better, faster, more secure, and more reliable filesharing with clients instead.
With most services, you can set up ring-fenced areas only accessible via a unique web address and password-protected. The costs of these services start from a few pounds a month and offer significant storage capabilities suitable for busy practices and chambers.
Sprout recommends – SproutCloud
For many of us, work is an escape and we need a separation between the place where we live and the place where we work. Your colleagues will still need to interact with each other for work purposes and to relieve the growing frustrations of being confined to the place they live.
In addition to maintaining strong working relationships, teamworking tools will allow your colleagues to collaborate more effectively and in real time compared to sending emails back and forth. You can group colleagues into departments for macro-management of workflow or onto particular project groups for micro-management.
Teamworking tools are designed to mimic the functionality of social media platforms and apps so the training required for your staff to use them will be minimal or non-existent.
Sprout recommends – Microsoft Teams
Remote document signing
You will still need to send proposals and documents to clients for consideration prior to their engaging you for the work.
However, because of movement restrictions, getting a physical signature is going to be impossible and, during a time of depressed economic turnover, no firm will want their colleague to wait for weeks for their client to sign. If a case is particularly urgent, the high likelihood is also that your client will want to engage your services as quickly as possible so that you can get to work on their behalf.
There are multiple firms competing providing remote document signing services to solicitors, barristers, and other professional services businesses.
Flexibility built into your practice or chambers to work from wherever
Although the current situation will not continue forever and all of us are excited for its end, the flexibility and the willingness to adapt to the current situation has been evident in recent weeks among the firms we provide services to.
What’s happening right now has given leaders of businesses in general as well as in the legal sector pause and room for thought about the efficacy of any disaster or continuity planning they may have done in the past.
If you wish to speak with an IT and cybersecurity professional about using technology so that you’re still able to carry out work for clients during unexpected and unwanted times such as the one we’re living in now, please call Sprout IT today on 020 7036 8530 or email us.