Business continuity for a hybrid law firm
First published in the Law Society Gazette
Using the right IT products may not provide the magic bullet but will allow a proactive approach to achieving success and managing risks. As events progress we are getting clearer indications as to how the new working routines will shape up for lawyers. Some will be concerned that a rush back to the office will heighten risks of increased infection rates both in terms of the office environment and in using public transport whilst we have seen in many European countries that easing of restrictions has resulted in infection spikes. The return of schools will surely act as a catalyst to getting back to the office.
Many Lawyers have coped well with working through the pandemic with their files and their working processes being situated online in the cloud and we at Osprey have seen a considerably increased take up of our focused automated workflows in many areas of the law.
Whilst the rationale for using cloud-based CMS is at present fairly obvious it’s worth running through the arguments and comparing them to how your firm has coped and will cope.
Implement digital tools than enables business flexibility
You should be just as efficient when working from home, the office, or even on public transport as you travel. Nothing from the file should be unavailable wherever you are and issues of availability should not impact on your decision to locate at home or the office or to stagger your attendance and travel times.
Precedents, form filling, and key dates should form part of your workflows and key stages along with both client and stakeholder communications should be published and carried out online through your client-facing portal.
No secure client information should be carried around on vulnerable laptops or memory sticks or left on insecure (often shared) home computers.
You should be able to maximise billable hours with time recording on any device including your phone and tablet when you travel. Maximise client enquiries turning into instructions with a good website, client-facing apps and e-signing of engagement letters.
Increase your hourly billing rates on fixed fee work with well-structured workflows and appropriate automation of tasks. Increase your billing potential on all matters with real-time time recording and workflows that make sure nothing is missed.
Use high functioning workflows in your CMS to reduce your dependence on support staff so you can complete your work on your own, or successfully delegate much of the work to more junior staff while maintaining effective oversight.
If you are already doing all of this then the next few months should prove highly productive as you compete for clients business.
Remember that suggesting that all the software products are the same will lead you to make compromises that will reduce your income and allow rival firms to attract your clients.
Take a first practical step and view the Osprey Approach.
Cloud-based software has made effective home working far more achievable – ‘the cloud’ means that data is stored on the internet and can be accessed securely by the team anywhere with an internet connection.