Guides

Start a Lean Law Firm and Keep It Lean

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Software for your law firm is now less expensive, more secure and easier to use.

If you’re in the process of setting up a new law firm or are thinking about doing so, I have a question for you: Do you know which software you’re going to use in order to maintain low overhead and high efficiency – to create a lean law firm? This is going to be one of the most crucial decisions you can make when you set up your law firm. The software mentioned below will not only create efficiencies and lower cost, but it will also make you more secure — truly essential software.

There are six core software systems that are easy to use, inexpensive and secure. And you only need three of them! They will set you up for a stable operation in your new law firm and enable you to practice lean. They are:

For Email:

Microsoft Outlook or Gmail (Google Apps For Work)

Both of these systems are secure, integrate with your calendar, documents and social media. By having your data in the cloud instead of on a server in your office, you are no longer responsible for the expense or maintenance of a server. Let the experts take care of the data. You will never know more about how to secure your data than Google or Microsoft. These tools both allow you to send email from your own domain (e.g., me@mylawfirm.com) – the professional way to go.

For Document Storage:

NetDocuments or Box.com

For security, cost and ease of use, you can’t go wrong with either of these tools. We’ve detailed some of the differences here, but if you’re still not sure which to choose, please contact us.

For Accounting and Timekeeping and Billing:

QuickBooks Online or Xero:

For accounting, these tools are top of the list for familiarity, ease of use, security and time savings. You can also use these tools for timekeeping and invoicing, but you might want to add a separate tool. Some lawyers like a speciality billing tool – we make one at LeanLaw but Ebillity and Bill4Time are also popular. Others like a full practice management tool like Clio, Rocket Matter or MyCase. Give me a ring if you want to talk about the pluses and minuses of each.

Of course, this is just part of setting up your new law firm, but it’s one of the most important. If you are just starting, you are in the best possible position because you have no bad habits or bad workflows to overcome.

And another thing:

Under the ABA model rules, adopted in about 20 states, you have three fundamental ethical duties with regard to technology. These duties are more than likely implicit in other states as well:

  1. Competence: You must understand the risks and benefits of technology. You have a legal obligation to understand the data management tools and how best to keep your clients’ data and communications secure.
  2. Confidentiality: You have a duty to undertake reasonable efforts to protect the confidentiality of client information, including electronic information.
  3. Third Parties: You have a duty to exercise reasonable efforts to ensure the confidentiality of client information shared with third parties, such as expert witnesses or data consultants.

Choosing the right software will not only create a lean law firm, but will also put you firmly on track with your ethical duties to regard to technology. Two birds, one stone.

Getting Started

If all of this sounds logical in theory but you still don’t know where to begin, give me a call or shoot me an email. I started LeanLaw with the mission that every lawyer should have a lean practice. We stand ready to help your solo practice or small firm get lean.

Join the LeanLaw Movement!

Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney, LeanLaw

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