Bloomsbury Law Online

Articles filed under Office technology

Businesswoman in Cubicle

Success in business

The ultimate marker of a successful business is the strength of its bottom line. Profitability is everything if you want to survive and thrive. The route to healthy profits is maximising income and minimising costs.

You don’t necessarily need us to tell you about maximising income. Revenue generation is your forte, achieved by good marketing to create new business opportunities in the first place, and even better legal service provision and client care thereafter to secure a stream of repeat and referral business.

Your legal software provider can assist in this area by offering solutions containing features such as automation to reduce your workload, application availability for greater uptime, intuitive time recording to capture more chargeable activity and advanced analytics to monitor performance, to name a few. But that’s not the main focus here. We’re concentrating on minimising costs.

a-to-z

In the last issue of this Newsletter, I wrote an article on the main suppliers of cloud based software for lawyers. I described the suppliers who have developed software for the cloud, from the ground up (no pun intended), with no option for in-house use; there were about 30 suppliers, and their offerings, described in that article.

This covered many of the newer suppliers who have seen an opportunity for developing easy-to-use legal software in the cloud, particularly for smaller users, as well as some of the older, and well established suppliers who have developed a completely new software system for cloud use.

sticker-giant2

There are a large number of companies offering legal software to lawyers – around 100 at my last count. The software section of my website www.venables.co.uk/software.htm lists and describes them all, A to Z.

As well as the A to Z sections, I now provide a section called “Cloud, Outsourcing and Hosted Systems” at www.venables.co.uk/outsourcing.htm. More and more new suppliers are developing their software specifically for online use and this is now quite a large section, with 30 suppliers.

google_for_work

In 2013 I wrote about Google Drive and Chromebooks for lawyers interested in adopting a more cloud-based approach. Since then, many businesses have turned to cloud solutions and Google has been actively promoting Google Apps for Work which includes a range of its products.

Mobile apps for lawyers

Software as a Service (SAAS) and apps are becoming increasingly popular among solicitors.

Legal practitioners have developed a clear preference for mobile-friendly applications that are directly available from the web.

DPS Software have developed secure SaaS solutions and apps which solve the issue of mobility without compromising data security.

Julian Bryan, Managing Director Quill Pinpoint

You can’t be an expert in all areas of your business so it’s important to focus on your strengths. And, even if you are an all-rounder, it’s impossible to do everything yourself within the limited hours of the working day.

Whether the issue is lack of direction or lack of time, there’s one easy solution to these age-old problems: outsourcing.

But, just as you wouldn’t employ a new member of staff without rigorous application and interviewing procedures, you shouldn’t engage an outsourcing provider without careful questioning and screening. Otherwise, how else will you know if suppliers possess the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to service your needs properly?

Our self-help guide poses 10 essential questions to ask before you outsource. These questions are intended to allow you to fully evaluate prospective outsourcing providers before you sign any contract(s).

laptop, tablet, smartphone

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers to the growing trend of employees using their personal laptops, smartphones and other communications devices in the workplace or elsewhere for work-related purposes. The related Bring Your Own App (BYOA) is essentially the software version of BYOD, where an employee uses personal (often cloud-based) software for work purposes, which could be something as simple as forwarding work-related emails to a personal Gmail address. According to recent research, more than half of UK workers have already adopted BYOD, and employers are increasingly asking their lawyers for advice on managing the employment law aspects. Both BYOD and BYOA throw up similar issues concerning security, privacy and ownership.

Richard Hugo-Hamman

Richard HugoHamman of LEAP Legal Software interviewed by Delia Venables

Angelo RilloBased in Enfield, AVRillo is a family-run practice specialising in Conveyancing. The firm, established in 1989, is still setting the standards within the legal sector with its multi award-winning services. In addition to being an Investors in Business winner and a Sunday Times Award winner, AVRillo’s reputation for quality and expertise has been rewarded by the Law Society, which has granted the company the prestigious “Quality Conveyancing” accreditation, as well as the “Legal Excellence” award.

Angelo Piccirillo, Partner and Co-founder of AVRillo, explains his choice of Practice Management Software.

Small law firms have a significant competitive advantage – you can get things done! Large law firms like any large organisation have complex systems and layers of management. They are complicated. Small firms are not.

Despite conventional wisdom, technology use in small law firms is typically more sophisticated than in large law firms for one reason; most large firms charge on a time basis with large corporate clients. Inefficiency is rewarded. Small law firms may and should charge on a time basis, but their clients are you and me. Hyper-price-sensitive people.

To do well, a large firm needs to record a lot of time.

To do well, a small firm needs to be super-efficient.

You need great technology.

Julian Bryan represents Quill Pinpoint

Some of the most successfully run practices are introducing outsourcing as a core component of their business strategy. In direct response to regulatory changes in the profession and competitive movements in the legal marketplace, law firms are increasingly adopting a businesslike management approach, resulting in offloading back office functions, such as cashiering and payroll, becoming increasingly popular amongst business-savvy service providers.

Through outsourcing, firms cease to perform the function in house with their own resources. Instead, they instruct an outsourcing company with notable expertise in the business area to perform the task on their behalf. Outsourced support is usually charged on a variable costs model (more on this later) which adjusts to the peaks and troughs in demand for services, which is proven to be the lowest cost option.

As overall profitability is ultimately a product of long-term healthy cash-flow, it is crucial within a law firm, as within any business, to be able to monitor this cash-flow accurately. At the same time, tracking your fee earners’ efficiency and assigning their time a financial value is equally important as it is their work that ultimately makes or breaks the business performance of any law firm.

But how do you ensure that you have the right mechanisms and systems in place to manage and monitor these critical factors? Legal accounting and case management software products are examples of solutions that can deliver this capability and these two are arguably the most important ones that a legal business should be taking advantage of.