Advertising and marketing costs more than money. It costs your time. Additionally, lawyers have to work harder and more efficiently to earn the same legal fees of years ago.
Advertising efforts can be delegated to an advertising agency but you still need to spend your time overseeing your advertising campaign. If you have no idea what you’re agency is doing you’re doomed for failure.
With TV advertising becoming more difficult, marketing becomes even more important. Although less expensive than advertising, marketing costs a lot more of your time. With increased marketing, you’ll get more cases and need more time. It’s a vicious circle.
Fortunately, there are a lot of new services for law firms which can free up a lot of time. For instance, my law firm frequently signs up clients by e-mail which saves many hours. We use Adobe Echosign, but there are several companies providing online contract signing services.
We use ChoiceLegal to obtain medical records which saves a lot of time. Even if we had a paralegal to stay on top of it, we would rather have the paralegal spend the time with our marketing efforts. We also outsource summarizing medical records to doctors and paralegal work to various services both here and Lexvia in India.
Many lawyers still don’t use online legal research or opt to save money by using one of the less expensive services but Lexis or Westlaw, which we use, is worth the extra money because it saves a lot of time.
Google Maps saves hours by letting us take a screen capture giving us a photo of the street where the accident occurred so we often don’t have to go there.
I have been using SAGA personal injury case management software for many years which saved thousands of hours and the cost of several secretaries or paralegals. Recently, my software company advised that they will no longer support their software and I spent months trying to figure out which software to switch to.
I need software that can do literally everything, yet be easy to use, require less time to use, and less time to learn how to use. After reviewing a number of programs developed for personal injury and other practice areas, there were two that met my criteria of saving the most time and being easy to use.
There are two which met that criteria for us, SmartAdvocate® and Prevail. We bought SmartAdvocate because it has more features; more merge codes; my partner is not very computer literate and felt it is easier to use; and it will save us more time. SmartAdvocate is designed for the needs of large law firms but is also a great choice for small law firms like ours.
SmartAdvocate isn’t lacking any feature or report. But if you find one missing, just let them know. I submitted several suggestions and they were implemented within a day! They have seven in house programmers and because the software is built with modules, they are able to implement a good suggestion quickly.
Since we advertise 1-800-HURT-911, I also liked the many features designed for lawyers who advertise. One of interesting features is a map showing the location of your clients and callers. The map can show the entire US or just a local region so you can visually see how your advertising is working.
SmartAdvocate is smartly designed to be intuitive and save the user’s time. For instance, there are check boxes to enter information instead of having to retype the same information again in another field. There are pop-ups to show contact information without having to drill down. It probably has more merge codes than any other program and the merge codes are intuitive.
One of the most important features is that template documents can easily be saved simply by choosing from a drop-down window and clicking save. This one feature is the most important time saver and I will not consider any software that doesn’t allow the user to easily save a template document. Other software requires dozens of separate complicated, time-consuming steps to save a template document.
Prevail is also worth investigating and the only other software I like, if your budget doesn’t permit SmartAdvocate. Prevail has the important features of other applications but it gets my vote over the others because it is the only other practice management software I found, other than SmartAdvocate, that allows saving a template document by simply clicking on save.
See a comprehensive list of personal injury case management software.
What should you do with the extra time? We spend our time with various marketing efforts including going out to meet potential clients. In fact, we’re giving out marketing materials at an event tonight. We even go to stores which do business with our potential clients.
The next article will provide marketing ideas including a time-saving method for lawyers to automatically send holiday cards and birthday cards in the US mail. Your time should be spent efficiently, even with marketing.