We have to admit it: things are changing fast around us, at a speed and in ways we would have liked to be either more predictable or easier to control. We are constantly adapting to reality, reacting to the new present and developing strategies to best estimate future changes. And, all throughout this process, we cling to anchors as steady as possible. Technology, as a tool to facilitate communication and optimize strategy, as well as productivity, is one of them.
The technology available today can help us a lot and make our work easier by managing specific activities so that we can take care of more important things. Although widely available, we often lack the full understanding of the impact that technological tools can have on our professional lives, or the discipline to use them.
In the legal profession, we rely mostly on personal interaction, intuition, and experience. At the same time, most of us have email addresses, digital calendars, social network accounts, but we often forget that a calendar synchronization, a virtual meeting with multiple features or a professional time management app can significantly change our professional and business performance. And even more, we don’t have to be IT experts for that, we just need to act like smart and intuitive lawyers. For example:
Whether I go to the office or work remotely, generally any working day starts with setting the work schedule and priorities. Anyone can nowadays access a digital calendar, on a computer or a phone, and once you start using it, daytime management will become more efficient. In addition to a calendar that we fill in by hand-in our agenda, the implementation of IT solutions can automate most of our activities. For example, we can include all court hearings – personal and the ones of our colleagues and automatically synchronize them. But not only that: by implementing a CRM / project management app, we can include details such as our clients’ birthdays, lead reminders, or various tasks. Thus, we can easily track the task management app in which tasks are performed or overdue, as well as the general workload of the team members.
A product that can be useful in this respect is KeyVision PRO, with Timesheet & Billing, Litigation, and CRM modules.
If before the pandemic many of the meetings were face to face or involved travel, now we are forced by circumstances to turn to virtual options.
Imagine the following scenery: you have a quick Zoom teleconference. Participants are you, from home, a colleague who is at a court hearing in Cluj, a potential client from the UK and his representative in Romania. Everything is online, does not require costs for travel or accommodation, you can record the meeting, you can use a whiteboard for explanations, you can present and edit a document together, share your screen or a specific app, and so on. There are already several solutions developed and functional on the market, among which the most popular at the moment are Skype (free), Google Meet (you need a Google account), Microsoft Teams (you need an Office 365 account), Zoom (free version limited to meetings of up to 40 minutes), Webex or GoToMeeting.
It is very important to have a good and hot coffee at hand, which will add flavor and inspiration to the discussion and arguments.
The UK potential client confirms the start of the project and the conclusion of the legal assistance contract. You have the option to search through the old contract templates concluded with other clients and start from one of those. But, to draft the contract even more efficiently, you can use a document automation solution in which you already have different templates and clauses. You can use the global fee or the hourly fee template, the English or the Romanian version. If you only have a template in Romanian, you can automatically translate it into English. Solutions, such as Koala Docs, can help with all of these. For a simpler version, you can use the feature “Generate new document from template”, available in KeyVision PRO Timesheet & Billing module, which automatically generates the contract based on the data already available in the system.
Negotiating contractual terms is easy and efficient in the virtual environment: we send the legal assistance contract via e-mail, it comes back with changes, we negotiate again by phone or in another teleconference and agree upon the final version. Technology provides us with the opportunity to give up the printed version of the contract, sent by courier, and use the electronic signature. There is also the option to use an online contract application, such as DealSign or ContractBook, to negotiate and sign the contract. These apps allow you to accept, reject or amend clauses in real-time and include qualified electronic signature features.
Of course, technology is very useful, but a break to disconnect from the virtual environment and reconnect with yourself is always welcomed. Lunch is ideal for re-evaluating priorities, setting action directions, as well as the steps and tools required to implement them. Moreover, the company of a colleague or a friend or even a delicious dessert will always be a good source of inspiration and energy.
The client from the UK sends the signed legal assistance contract and the documents relevant to the project. Once we have received all these from the client, the first step is to save them in our document management system. Such a system allows the document classification, according to the type of document, client, deal or practice, for easy and fast identification later on. When the documents are delivered in physical format, they can be scanned and even transformed into editable text, using OCR technology (which some document management systems include by default).
For instance, M-Files provides you with all these features, plus many more (full document traceability, saving document versions, access and activity history, limited and secure access options, eDiscovery, Content Management Hub for all document storage locations, automatic classification based on AI, etc.).
Once uploaded to the document management system, everyone involved in the legal case can access those documents, from their desktop app, internet browser or phone. Thus, your colleague from Cluj can immediately start drafting the summons.
Standard writing means using Word. However, there are multiple technologies on the market that can help us write faster and more efficiently.
First of all, there are solutions based on templates and we don’t have to start from scratch. You can now fill in the company’s data automatically, using the information from the Ministry of Finance website. There are also solutions on the market that can generate documents based on dynamic templates, depending on the user’s input, such as Koala Docs – no matter if you want a suspension request, to invoke legal principles, jurisprudence, and so on. We can also use a database or clauses and arguments templates, which can be inserted directly into the document.
In addition, Google Docs or Office 365 are allowing online writing, simultaneously, for several lawyers. This way, you can work on one end of the application, while your colleague deals with the other end. You can even allow customer access in order to complete the technical information.
The previously completed application is electronically signed and sent to the court, along with another 200 pages of documents attached. With the electronic signature, everything is much simpler now, without stress and hundreds of printed and stamped pages. In addition, we can pay the stamp fee online, through the new system provided by Digital Just Tax.
The news from the court is sent by e-mail and phone, through automatic notifications for our legal cases – new court hearings, the resolution from yesterday’s court hearing, or the fact that new legal cases have been opened for our clients. Everything is automatic and the new court hearings are already in the digital calendar I mentioned at the beginning, so there’s no need to waste time by checking the portal once every 5 minutes. We can use this time to check the news online or to post about the success of the legal case on Facebook or Linkedin.
KeyVision PRO can help us quickly and easily in this area, as it is synchronized with ECRIS, ICCJ, and the Insolvency Bulletin.
All the lawyers who worked on the project add their timesheets in an online system, which allows us to know exactly how much work was done and how much we have to bill. For example, if we negotiated with the client an hourly fee, per seniority, a time tracking system automatically calculates how much we have to bill and whether or not we fit into the initially proposed budget. We also can easily review those timesheets, revise them where appropriate and then issue the invoice. KeyVision PRO offers you all these features at only a click away. In addition, you can quickly see who didn’t add their timesheet, how much work was done or billed on a certain legal case and the workload of each lawyer.
Later, you can send the invoice directly by e-mail to the customer and he can pay it online, with his credit card or by bank transfer.
Law is a profession of the soul. But we also know, that time is money. And each timesheet added in your own system is the basis for the invoices sent to the customers. Furthermore, apps that allow invoice issuing based on timesheets can offer us much more information. For example, we can have a precise record of debtors, whom we can contact and write down ideas from our conversation or paying promises directly linked to the respective invoices. Some apps can show us in detail the revenue per client, project or lawyer, as well as the recovery rate, effort or profitability. We can thus identify projects which involve significant effort and costs but are not at all profitable. Moreover, we can also identify the causes for this situation: it may be the weak performance of a team member, inappropriate priority setting or excessively reducing billing hours, in the review process.
KeyVision PRO offers all these features and, more importantly, an overview of the business. There is, for example, the possibility to set and track a monthly budget or a performance analysis for each client or lawyer, in order to have the most accurate and comprehensive picture of the financial performance.
In the end, each daily choice becomes a step towards the certainty that today’s decisions shape the future of our business and the pace at which we adopt and manage technological trends will dictate our professional and personal performance.
“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future” said Seneca.
Adopted gradually, correctly understood, and used, technology means an efficient and adequate time and business requirement management. So, at the end of the day, we can enjoy the humanity within us, towards a more predictable and sustainable future.
KeyVision is the work management platform legal teams use to run an efficient and profitable business