Hello, My name is Alex Hutchinson.
I’m a freelance IT / Technology director for law firms, and I’m putting together some content around helping law firms with improving their case and practice management systems and some other topics.
One are I will be covering is putting together a guide to help law firms form a technology strategy, for small firms, and also I’m going to be putting together some content around how firms can get the best out of their existing case and practice management system that they’ve probably already invested fairly significantly in, in terms of the software and the licensing, and the time in terms of the people engaging with it and using it day to day. So it’s difficult to just go out and change it, or there’s bigger implications, just the numbers involved, of going to find a new case and practice management system. So unless it’s end of life, or there’s a problem around moving forward with the provider, you’re best to try and look to better leverage that existing system.
So I thought I’d try and share some short videos around getting the best out of a case practice management system. And one of the first tips that I wanted to raise, there’s hopefully a bit of insight across this single tip, is you’ve got to start with your people inside the firm. So one of the first things firms normally do is go to the case practice management provider and try and find out information about what the capabilities of the software are, because we don’t know what we don’t know, right? So the problem with that is that it’s not always the best direction.
I won’t explain detail as to why here, but you will capture that information as you are going along and what you need to know first, to touch on why it’s not a good direction, is there’ll be things going on day to day within the firm that are costing you time and money, frustrating your people, impacting client delivery and potentially have associated risk and compliance issues, and they need to be addressed first before you start looking at these other areas of we don’t know what we don’t know.
And as you go along trying to fix these problems, frustrations, challenges that are currently taking place, you’ll acquire a lot of information and knowledge about what the capabilities of the software are that can then be better deployed later and leveraged as you’re going along. So it can be a distraction to actually jump to that straight away.
So if you’re looking to speak to your people, some information on how best to go about doing that. You want somebody that is not responsible for or capable of fee earning to have a conversation. You want to split it or by area of practice, and you want to split it up by individual grades. You want to speak to a partner, fee earner, secretary, isolate an individual area of practice. Again, you would logically prioritize that either on higher volume, lower margin, biggest risk, capacity problems, whatever it may be. So sort the areas of practice. Sort the levels of individual.
Ask them who wants to take part in an improvement process, and also speak to the partner about a split of individuals to speak to. So you want to involve people that are pro-change, people that are resistant to change, and put together a short plan, very low numbers initially, for each area of practice of who you’re going to speak to. So you have one partner, pro and con fee earner, pro and con secretary, is a good place to start as a minimum. Then what you do is you speak to them about their current problems, frustrations, and challenges that they experience day-to-day when they’re engaging with the technology that’s currently in place.
And the individual that’s doing that should record that video, record the audio and record the screen of the partner, for example, who’s showing you what the problem or challenge is. So you do that once. You capture all that information, and it’s about extracting the detail. The interview with that individual cannot be about how to fix that problem. It’s about them sharing with you their problems and challenges. They’re not there to fix it. They just tell you what the problem is.
And you extract as much information as possible around that that’s efficient, and as you’re doing it, capture information around metrics. So let’s talk about weekly how much time is that costing you? How many units a week? What’s the opportunity available if we fix this or what’s the risk associated with it? Then that information can be taken offline and analysed, but you also capture in there, what would good look like? What do you need it to look like for it to work right for you?
And that’s a really essential first part of this process, because then all that can be taken away offline while that partner continues to work with clients and generate timely core chargeable hours whilst the person offline that’s dealing with the project can go through all that information, condense it into something that’s a report. They then come back to the partner that signed up to say, “This is what I took from the meeting. This is what I understand are your problems. This is what you want it to look like, and this is what the metrics are to fix it. Is that right?” Then you can go to the tech provider, find out solutions. I’ll come back to you how to do that. You’ll know which ones will deliver a clear ROI based on that information you have.
Alex Hutchinson is a Freelance IT / Technology Director who helps law firms deliver successful IT / Technology Projects.
If you are tired of not being able to make the progress you would like with your IT / Technology projects. If you don’t know where to start amongst all the noise, or if you have a rough idea of a good plan, but just don’t have the right person to “own the project” and make your plans happen then lets arrange a call.
I would love to hear what progress you want to make as a firm and provide some options on how I could help define a plan and then make it happen.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a productive week
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