Why client portal software is the future for law firms
Legal software solutions are designed around features and functionality that benefit a firm. Fee earners are tasked with driving long term efficiencies, increasing billable hours and onboarding new clients, all to increase profits for the firm. This is why legal tech looks to reduce manual admin, increase productivity and introduce automations in order to help users maximise their time.
But often the most important part of the firm’s success is overlooked – the client. Increasing efficiencies to improve profitability is crucial for the success of a firm but without clients, there’s no one to deliver your efficient services to.
With practice management software solutions increasingly becoming the norm, as firms realise the traditional processes are costing them, it’s not the tech alone that will help you stand out from the crowd, but your client service. Quality client service will always be a key competitive advantage so focusing your strategy on being client-focused will help you stand above the crowd.
Implementing a client portal enables you to deliver client-centred services that also effects your bottom-line. This guide covers everything you need to know about why you should implement a client portal, the key features you need to look out for, and advice on implementing them into your firm.
Why your law firm should implement a client portal
Implementing a client portal benefits your client, your productivity and your firm’s profitability.
A web portal provides your clients with a self-service platform that enables them access to case updates, documents, and next stage tasks 24/7. Without needing to call or email their lawyer, they can log on securely and access or send the information they need without hassle. When all case details are centralised in one platform, your client can feel confident that they have all they need and that progressing the case will not require additional printing, posting, chasing or visiting the office.
A client portal enables you to offer your clients a convenient service that helps make legal processes and procedures easier to handle – the ultimate goal for all parties involved.
Firms are trusted with endless confidential documents and data which is stored securely in your case management solution. But when that data or documents are shared via email or in the post, you’re losing that security and relying on other infrastructures to ensure the safety of your files.
A secure web portal enables you, your client and third parties to upload, share and sign documents without those risks. The portal becomes an extension of your case management system so the encryptions, cyber security and data policies that secures your CMS are also protecting your web portal and the data you hold in there. This reduces risk of hackers or external parties accessing or using your information without permission.
A centralised location for documents, data, communications and updates makes accessing and collaborating much easier for all parties. Without needing to scroll back through endless emails, or physically visit the office, clients can view and comment on files from any device. This is not only easier but helps speed up case progression helping reduce the time from file open to file close.
Adaptability & scalability
Remote working and online services have increased the reach of your firm beyond your local town, helping you to win more business and attract the best talent from across the country. This means, your clients, and potentially your staff, are now less likely to be local to your office, so providing digital onboarding and client portal features helps you drive your firm forward. You no longer have to be restricted by your physical location or paper documents; client portals free up firms to manage cases and clients from any location.
Reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals are the lifeblood of any law firm. Providing a client-first, convenient service is going to be the reason why people recommend you and return. A client portal enables you to offer efficient and quality service that clients now expect. Logging into portals has become the norm for us in our personal lives; we access our bank, insurance, bills and much more online and so the expectation of legal processes are now the same. When you can offer a solution to your clients that makes their lives easier and you’ll be rewarded with referrals and positive reviews.
Key features of client portal software
To ensure your client portal is successful in enhancing your clients’ experience, make sure that your new client portal has the features listed here:
Document sharing & collaboration
The cornerstone of client portals is document sharing. They make it easy to share, view and locate documents, no matter their file type or date sent. The best client portals should also make it easy to collaborate on those documents. Clients can add comments, make amendments, and save new drafts, all whilst the document is ‘checked-out’ so others who have access to the same document know who is working on it.
When digitalising your client-facing legal processes you need an e-signature solution so agreements and contracts can be signed from anywhere, anytime. Client portals should enable that feature and integrate with platforms such as DocuSign to help increase the convenience for your clients. Watch your signed agreements be returned to you in minutes instead of days.
Just like sharing documents, sending confidential data via email is also a security risk. Client portal data capture forms protects clients and ensures a centralised location for all matter details. Plus, you gain improved visibility on what the client has or hasn’t provided yet, enabling you to easily chase or request additional information.
Case progression updates
The biggest inconvenience for both clients and lawyers is phone call chases. Imagine reducing your daily calls by even 1 per client, per day. Sharing updates straight from your case management solution into the client portal saves you time and effort and means your client has up to date, accurate information. The best client portal software also lets you schedule tasks and key date reminders, so clients know when they need to supply a document, a signature, their details or evidence.
Implementing a client portal on its own will allow you to provide a client-focused service but will negate the crucial efficiency and productivity boosting features your firms requires. Ensure your client portal is fully integrated with your case management solution so data is centralised, manual admin is reduced and communication between the two can be as simple as a click of a button.
A complete and future-proofed web portal solution provides access and collaboration tools for both clients and third parties. When there are multiple parties involved, a centralised portal for access to data and documents can help streamline and quicken progress. It can also aid accuracy and reduce mistakes or mislaid information. Your client portal should allow you to select the files, data, communications, and updates that you wish to share and publish only those to the portal. You should always be in control of what is and isn’t shared with other parties.
How do I successfully implement a client portal into my law firm?
Like all other technology solutions, simply having the portal won’t provide you with the outcome you require. Implementing a new process or platform requires planning and thought to ensure your maximising the use of your new client portal and both your firm and your clients are reaping the benefits.
Embed onto your website
If you don’t have a website yet, get one! It’s the virtual shop front for your firm and the only way, moving forward, that you’ll gain business and be competitive in the market. Ensure your client log-in portal is visible and clear on your website so clients can easily begin to work with you.
Without complete buy-in from your firm you won’t reap 100% of the benefits. By explaining the benefits and scheduling training you can help manage the change for your team. Enthusiasm and acceptance of new software solutions will help your firm move forward and your clients feel confident in your service.
Make it standard practice for staff and clients
If a client portal is seen as a backup plan or a passing trend, both your staff and clients will feel reluctant to use it. When fully implemented, make the process of sharing documents through the portal standard practice so expectations are set up front and everyone is consistent.
If clients and staff members are confident using the portal, they’ll utilise it’s features. When setting up clients on your web portal, communicate basic instructions and answer the most often asked questions. How will they change their password? Where can they view updates? How do they upload content? Clearly communicate this information early on and your clients will have a better experience using the portal. The same applies to the firm, ensure people are confident in using the client portal and can assist their clients in doing so.
Future-proof your law firm with client portal software
A client portal can enhance your quality of service and make you more efficient and profitable too.
As client expectations continue to grow higher, exceptional client-focused services is going to be the key decider in whether you’re chosen above the competition.
It’s your duty to ensure your clients data is secure and that you effectively communicate during the case. Implementing a client portal will make capturing data, sharing updates, and sending documents easier for you, but importantly, convenient for your clients.