Running a law firm in today’s competitive legal market is no simple task. Most firms face similar challenges regardless of their practice areas. Firms often experiment with different techniques and tools to address three of the most common challenges every law firm faces:
- Increasing revenue
- Improving productivity and efficiency
- Controlling costs
So, how do you address these issues? The key is to work smarter, not harder, and one important tool that allows you to do this is document assembly. For 30 years, HotDocs technology has been used by law firms worldwide to improve their document production processes. Listed below are several best practices gained from thousands of small law firms that use HotDocs each day.
Increasing revenue depends on both finding and retaining clients. Once you have hard-won clients, it’s essential to provide them with the best service possible. So, how can you use document assembly to increase revenue?
First, automated forms from publishers allow you to broaden the services you provide to your clients. Professionally made templates such as those available through HotDocs Market allow you to tap into the legal expertise of publishers that have worked hard to provide you with a broad range of legal documents and forms that make it possible to tap into practice areas such as estate planning, business formations, elder law, or family law. Having a broader range of services allows you to reach a much larger customer base. Without automated forms, firms may be confined to a narrower set of services.
Second, document assembly enables you to provide enhanced services to your existing customer base. For example, you can provide client-facing forms on your website or via email. These online methods make it easier for your clients to provide essential information in a convenient and flexible way. Once your client’s information is gathered, it can be synced with a practice management system — such as Amicus Attorney or Abacus Law — to automatically generate first drafts or even finalized documentation that meets your client’s needs. You spend less time on routine data collection and document drafting, freeing up your time for more complex client work.
Third, document assembly tools make it easier to provide free services that help attract new clients. For example, one firm that uses HotDocs embedded free business startup forms within its website. New tech startups can then input data through a web form, which automatically generates the appropriate business documents. Very little time is needed by the law firm’s staff to review the documents and the firm’s costs are practically nothing, yet the value to the business startups is high.
Improving Productivity and Efficiency
No matter which practice areas you focus on, your firm almost certainly generates legal documents nearly every day. Whether you produce lengthy and complex contracts or short and simple documents, your firm can benefit from document assembly. This technology helps to drastically reduce the time required to draft, review, and finalize legal documentation. Whether you use your own internally designed templates or you subscribe to fully automated form sets from legal publishers, document assembly can help you be more productive.
For three decades, document assembly has been used within the legal industry. It’s a proven technology that enables legal professionals to quickly generate error-free documents in the most efficient way possible. It’s common to hear of attorneys reducing their document production time from days or hours down to mere minutes. Yet, even though the time is reduced, the quality doesn’t suffer. In fact, the overall document quality increases with the use of document assembly.
Fully integrating document assembly with practice management and document management systems helps firms be even more productive. This creates a very efficient workflow. It also helps reduce the pain that comes from staff turnover. Document assembly forms capture the expertise and language needed for your legal documents and make it possible for new hires to immediately achieve productivity while generating error-free legal documents as efficiently and accurately as experienced staff.
Controlling costs is another big challenge for law firms and the ability to reduce costs is essential to achieving profitability. The legal industry has changed dramatically in recent years and clients are putting pressure on firms to move to Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) to reduce billable hours and costs. So, how do you cut costs and even pass those savings on to your clients, while still maintaining profitability? Document assembly is ideally suited to address this challenge. Law firms that use document assembly can dramatically reduce the time and costs involved in generating legal documentation for clients. When a fixed-fee service is offered, the only way to increase profitability is to reduce time spent on routine work. Document assembly allows you to do this. Firms that incorporate document assembly drastically reduce the time and effort needed to create high-quality legal documents and the benefits are significant.
Document assembly technology is a powerful tool that enables law firms to overcome challenges such as increasing revenue, improving productivity, and controlling costs. To see a very practical application of document assembly within a small law firm, read this short case study about H. Edwin Detlie, an attorney with two offices in Iowa. He has incorporated both fully automated templates from legal publishers as well as his own internally designed forms to run a successful legal practice.
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