How Using Legal Search Tools Can Improve Your Practice ...


Use the following methods to get the most out of search tools in your legal practice:

1. Centralise your information
2. Store your documents correctly
3. Manage your knowledge 
4. Report your billable hours accurately

Category:
Search and Retrieval

Time is a hot commodity in legal practice, and convenience is close behind. In an age where everything is becoming digital, it is increasingly important that you're able to use your time well and provide convenient solutions, both for yourself and your clients. One of the greatest forms of waste is spending hours searching for the right documents, contacts and information related to your matters. In a firm filled with boxes of old papers and an email stuffed with thousands of old emails, seeking out the correct item can take frightening amounts of precious time.

With a system like that, you're wasting your time on useless searching that really should be focused on practicing law and providing your clients with brilliant service. Your billable hours are running away as you try to find what you need before you can record them. This could result in you working far more than you should each week just to get enough hours in. Your clients don't want that and you don't either. How do you solve the problem

Centralise your information

With a matter management system like LawMaster, you'll have everything you need right at your fingertips and every action is recorded against the corresponding matter. Any correspondence, documentation, or data will be readily available for you to search with our powerful search tools as well as integration with Infotrack, SAI Global and GlobalX. Not only will your data be logged, but it will be filed directly with time spent on each matter as well as all contact data or important dates. This intuitive organisation makes it easy for you to handle each matter as it comes up with no confusion or matter overlap.

Store your documents correctly

Once they're organised, your documents are easy to find. Search quickly and efficiently for the information you need, whether you are looking for a preview, the latest version, or all documents on a certain topic.

Manage your knowledge

Paperless Office

It's important to have all you need to know on a topic. Finding (or missing) even one detail in a case could be  crucial to your success. With the ability to organise and search by topic, you can ensure everything is accessible from one central location. Furthermore, the process should check not only the unique matter records, but also check all non-matter records to find any pertinent information. With that search function in place, you'll be able to effectively research and develop a full understanding on any topic.

 

Report your billable hours

Billable hours for a lawyer can be a challenge to record. Furthermore, once they have been recorded, what happens if you need to go back and check how much time you've given to a particular matter? If you're manually inputting hours onto physical forms, they can be easily lost and it will take time out of yours, or your assistants day combing through these records. Using an intelligent cloud-based system allows for reports for each staff member to be accessed, ensuring that everyone is working to their full potential and succeeding at their work.


Why correct storage of data is important and how it will improve your searches

Searching for documents is as much a part of being a lawyer as arguing cases in the courtroom. Even as we slowly phase out paper files and overstuffed cabinets, wading through unrelated clutter and irrelevant items continues to be a major issue. Whether you're physically sorting through your documents or searching the depths of your computer's folders for that one contract or notable matter or anything else, it works out to be you wasting tons of time.

While it may seem dramatic at first, you'd be astounded if you knew just how much time you spend looking for things on the job. According to the experts, it's roughly 19% of the total time in a work week. That's a massive amount of time to be wasting. Not only is it annoying, it's also cutting into the number of billable hours you can perform for your clients.

These facts alone should more than make the case for employing a search and organisation tool in your legal practice. These sorts of programs are a huge help for people in a variety of fields but especially law. As already mentioned, cutting down on the time you waste searching your files and correspondence allows you to spend more time on the things that matter like keeping your client up to date or meeting critical deadlines.

It goes beyond just saving time, though. To use the LawMaster software as an example, your enhanced search abilities are far more than just quickly searching for files. Using LawMaster, you can instantly search your files as well as the text contained in those files for different keywords and phrases. You'll also be able to search through correspondence with clients and your contacts list, effectively letting you look up just about anything kept on your computer without needing to fumble through directories or remember where you had an obscure piece of information tucked away. Everything you need is in one place providing you with one source of the truth.

 

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This is obviously a major increase in productivity and efficiency (up to 25% according to the previous source). That's only the start, though. Improved ability to search is great but you also need to manage the different digital aspects of your practice related to information. Computerising a mess makes a computerised mess, which makes searching difficult. You need to be able to do a range of tasks from being able to track the use of legal precedents in cases to human resources management features. On top of this you need to be able to manage client relationships and accurately store data relating to them so you can easily find it in the future.

Financial management is critical in the success of any legal practice. From cost accounting, billing services, payroll management, management reporting, accounting services, and more, you can't afford to be blindsided by any revelations about your practice's financial health. Keep your financial data clean, up to date and easily accessible for those who need it and you'll make your life a lot less stressful.

Finally, you should take advantage of several more basic but still important management options. This would include things like deadline and meeting date reminders, workflow and task management programs, and email integration. If your emails are automatically sorted in your practice management software when you send and receive them, you won't have to spend hour crawling through your inbox to find an attachment or a piece of correspondence.

While you might be able to get by using the low tech tools you've already got, why would you when you could be doing bigger and better things? Part of being a lawyer is always staying abreast of new developments in the law, so it's only fitting that your technology do the same. Taking all of this as a whole, it's not too radical to suggest tools with powerful search capabilities like LawMaster are essential to practising law in the modern era.

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