5 Ways Smartphones are Transforming the way Lawyers Work

Published by Richard Hugo-Hamman

5 Ways Smartphones are Transforming the way Lawyers Work

Smartphones are transforming the way lawyers work. Information that was previously inaccessible in in-house document management and accounting systems is now available to you as a modern lawyer where ever you go. With a great practice management system you can move out of the office (or even around it to a conference room perhaps) and still have all the practice management information available to you.

The connection between your desktop and access to information has finally been broken.

Enjoy practice more: convenience for you, the lawyer

One of the most common requests we came across whilst designing a legal Smartphone App, was that lawyers need to have access to all client information and contact numbers and be able to make important calls easily.

This might seem like a little thing, but it is a tremendously common requirement, and once solved, is a huge time saver.

You can go to almost any court on any day and you will be able to see and hear lawyers holding their Smartphone to their ear with their shoulders as they phone the office to get a phone number from the file or elsewhere. With a decent Smartphone app this problem is eliminated.

  • You can easily look up a phone number in your system.
  • You can easily arrange for someone to send you a number you don’t have.
  • To call you just tap the phone number.
  • You can optionally record the details of the call for time recording purposes to maintain your audit trail.

Impress clients: 21st century client service

The reality is that your clients have Smartphones and that sets the pace at which they work. Lawyers that choose not to match the pace at which their clients work will be replaced by the lawyers who do. If your practice management system does not have a great Smartphone App, you are at threat.

From a client service perspective, the simple fact that you have all your clients’ information, INCLUDING all documents and correspondence with you at all times will inevitably result in you providing clients with better service. And from a marketing point of view, you will impress them. The ability to review, send or even print emails and other documents from your phone will impress your clients.

Compare this to the quality of service you have to provide without a Smartphone – all your client information locked up on your in-house PMS or some of it in a paper file, somewhere. Lost attendances, mistakes and poor service have to result. You can change this.

Email and documents: accessible and useful wherever you are

Email is the most common form of written communication, and documents are shared using email. With a good system all your emails, attachments and documents relating to a matter are available to you.

When your email system is fully integrated into your practice management system you can send and receive emails directly from a matter. This makes collaborative work much easier as you will have all the emails and other correspondence about a matter in one place. It also means that modern technology can provide you with access to those documents IN THE MATTER from your Smartphone.

Smartphone technology allows you to read all the documents, forward them on, create a pdf of a word document and send that instead, and of course to create new emails from the matter, all of which instantly synchronise with the matter data back in the office.

It is worth me repeating; all your matter related documents are available to you on your Smartphone from anywhere in the world. This is a massive transformation. It no longer makes any difference where you are.

Time recording: accurate records on the move

You have a professional’s obligation to make contemporaneous notes; why not make time records at the same time? In the past, time recording has broken down when out of the office but the Smartphone has changed that.

It is now incredibly easy to record time against a matter whether you are out and about, in a conference room or even sitting on the sofa at home. (Our records indicate that Smartphone use spikes after dinner).

You can record the time and also make all the adjustments needed to the variable data such as billing rates either when you first record the time or at any time prior to billing. You select the task code and type or even dictate the billing description.

And best of all, every time slip that you make is instantly visible in your time sheet and against the matter ledger. You don’t have to remember to do anything and you don’t have to do anything twice.

When you accurately capture all time elegantly at the time of the attendance your bills are easy to create and are far more accurate than any other approach.

Accurate time records enable you to be accountable and transparent in your firm and to your clients. And this is achieved without having to remember details of out of office attendances and find the time to capture the information when you get back to the office.

Accounting

How many times have you been with a client and wished you had up to date accounting information to share with a client? The most common items are:

  • How much money is in trust?
  • How much does the client owe?
  • What is the value of unbilled WIP and Disbursements?

This information (and a whole lot more) is now instantly available to you and updates in real time. Because unbilled time records are available, you can even edit and prepare them for billing and then just ask your office to generate the bill.

You will always know the truth and can share information with your client with confidence. This reduces the stress involved in acting for a client when there is financial uncertainty and enables you to run a financially disciplined office wherever you are.

In summary, the Smartphone allows you to work smarter and this gives you more time to do what you enjoy and the client wants – exercise your legal skills.