Running a small or solo law firm is challenging. It’s a constant struggle to find new clients, handle administrative tasks, control costs, and manage increasing amounts of data.
Luckily, there are some convenient hacks and software tools to lighten your load, but not your wallet.
1. Get on the Cloud | Dropbox
Should you be storing your files and data on your servers?Or should you be on the Cloud?
As a small firm with limited resources, cloud-computing is your best option. And it’s been around for decades. The ‘cloud’ you’ll be using will be a group of high-end, secure servers maintained by a trusted third-party, and connected to each other and you via the internet.
Why is the Cloud better than servers on your premises?
1. It’s much more affordable: Your cloud provider sets up and maintains their servers, and a much larger user base borrows space on the same cloud, driving down costs for everyone.
2. It’s much faster: These are powerful servers with way more computing power than regular office machines.
3. It’s maintenance-free. Once your software is on a central server location, you don’t need to install it, update it, or worry about it crashing.
4. You can access your data from anywhere. Forgot that important file at work? Pull it up on your phone — from your living room, the airport, or the beach.
5. It’s very secure: Your cloud provider can afford more powerful security than most small/solo law firms can.
Dropbox is the perfect cloud-based file hosting service for your small firm.
2. Get a website | Namecheap & Wix
Haven’t yet established your online brand? Here’s how to get a website and customized email addresses. . .
1. Use Namecheap to register, host, and manage your domain name. It’s great value-for-money (prices start at just $9.88/year) and easy to use. Learn more about Namecheap.
2. Use Namecheap to host your business email (or use other sites like Zohomail, FastMail, etc.). Your email address should reflect your firm’s name, with a .com extension (e.g. email@example.com). If you’re more comfortable using Gmail, you can link your new email address to Gmail (your email provider will show you how). Learn more about Namecheap’s pricing for email hosting.
3. Use Wix to create your website to start off with, and later get a professional team to work on it. Wix is incredibly easy to use. Just pick a template, change anything you want, add your images, videos, text and more to get online instantly. Learn more about how to set up your website with Wix.
3. Find an e-discovery platform | GoldFynch
Your clients deal primarily with electronic documents, so you’ll need good electronic-discovery (or ediscovery) software.
GoldFynch is the only viable powerful-but-affordable e-discovery solution for small law firms.
● Signing up is fast and free (it takes just minutes), so you can get to work immediately.
● GoldFynch is very simple to use, so you won’t need training.
● Its pricing is transparent (no hidden fees or locked features), fixed, up-front, and 1/10th that of the industry standard.
4. Get the right law practice management software
Good practice management software helps you manage your clients, documents, billing, appointments, time tracking, and accounting.
Here are some cloud-based options to get you started. . .
Pricing (per user, per month)
● Starter: $39 , ● Boutique: $59, ● Elite: $99
● Free: 5 GB & 5-case limit
● Premium: $ 39
(Click the links, explore the sites, and see if your bar association gets a discount.)
Want more to explore? The American Bar Association compares 33 other options.
5. Get the right productivity software | Office 365
When it comes to getting things done, Office 365 is your best solution. You get…
● The Office Suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access.
● Customized email and calendar options: Sync emails, calendars, and contact information across your devices in real time; use your domain name with emails; share calendars quickly; and more.
● Online multi-party HD audio/video software: Meet and work with clients from anywhere.
● File sharing and online storage: Access your files across devices.
● Microsoft Planner: Lets your team create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, chat about what they’re working on, and get updates on progress.
● Office 365 Video: Lets your team upload, share, and playback video messages
And you can access all of this across multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, Android tablets, Android phones, iPads, and iPhones.
6. Create and edit PDFs | Adobe Acrobat
Portable Document Format (PDF) is the standard document format for most businesses and organizations. And with courts starting to adopt e-filing, its role will grow.
Adobe Acrobat lets you create, edit, manage and review PDFs.
7. Start using e-signatures | DocuSign
DocuSign helps you and your client’s access, sign electronically, and send relevant documents quickly and easily from the desk or on the road.
DocuSign collaborates with the services, applications, and devices you already use, like Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Apple, etc.
8. Accept online payments from clients | LawPay
LawPay lets your customers pay you online, using their credit card; and it allows you to collect payments in your office, through your website, or on the go.
LawPay is easy to integrate with the law practice management software we’ve covered above.
9. Get a virtual receptionist | Ruby Receptionists
Give your clients and prospects the best possible caller experience.
Ruby Receptionists are friendly and courteous, offer a personal touch, and are cost effective.
1. When a client or prospective client calls, your number rings through to Ruby.
2. A receptionist greets your caller, and based on your call-handling instructions will:
● Gather information
● Forward the call to your preferred line
● Take a message
● Or send the caller to voicemail
10. Set up a virtual phone system | Grasshopper
Don’t yet have an extensive phone system? But need one to maintain your professional image? Get Grasshopper.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system with no hardware to purchase or software to install. It’s perfect for your small law firm. Here’s how it works:
1. Get a toll-free or local number
2. Record the main greeting
3. Add extensions for departments and employees
Your team uses their existing numbers, but clients are routed to them through your new official one. Just like with a larger, established company.