ABA Techshow

Lawyers can better utilize practice management features that boost efficiency

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Techshow2021_Regina Edwards

Regina Edwards, owner of Edwards Family Law in Georgia, speaks virtually during the ABA Techshow 2021 on Wednesday.

Lawyers are overlooking some key features in their practice management software platforms that could help them greatly improve their efficiency, two speakers said during separate ABA Techshow 2021 sessions Wednesday.

Melanie Leonard, founder of streamlined.legal, pointed out that most cloud-based practice management platforms include document automation tools, yet many attorneys spend months exploring the market looking for a stand-alone automation tool.

“In the meantime, in those four to six months you have been thinking about it and haven’t done anything, this tool is likely sitting on your practice management software and you could very possibly have somebody on your team actually take the time to learn it and use it and save a ton of time,” Leonard said.

She said her own personal legal experience demonstrates that document automation tools can save lawyers 75% of their time on a document-drafting task.

Leonard, whose session was titled “WTH: Technology to Work Smarter and Not Work Too Hard,” also urged attorneys to utilize the project or task management features in their practice management software. One reason to do so, she said, is that 10 percent of every dollar is wasted because of poor project performance during a project’s life cycle.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the ABA Techshow 2021 here.

Techshow2021_Melanie Leonard

Melanie Leonard, founder of streamlined.legal, ​speaks virtually during the ABA Techshow 2021 on Wednesday.

“If we are talking about getting documents out to our estate planning clients or if we are talking about representing our clients during litigation, there is a lot of planning we can do in advance to make it a much smoother road and a much smoother project,” Leonard said.

Regina Edwards, owner of Edwards Family Law in Georgia, also vouched for the wisdom of lawyers using practice management systems to organize tasks and automate work.

During her session titled “Set It & Forget It: Virtual Workflow Automation,” she said attorneys should start the workflow process by reviewing all the different actions they will need to complete in each step of a client’s case. They should then try to identify where the bottlenecks are and how they could eliminate them.

Edwards said most of the practice management platforms have posted helpful videos about how to use their software to create virtual workflows. She also shared that users, including herself, often upload their own videos to assist others.

Additionally, Edwards encouraged attorneys to find ways to automate tasks they find themselves doing repeatedly. She said email is one area particularly ripe for automation.

“My general rule of thumb is: If you find yourself writing an email more than once, it needs to be a canned email,” Edwards said.

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