Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Final article in a series about technology & the legal profession published by Family Law attorney Janet Reed



Final article in a series about technology & the legal profession published by Family Law attorney Janet Reed

As technology is advancing, the legal profession must keep up with these technological and societal changes, explains Janet Reed in an article series.

Long gone are the days of paper routing slips, desktop inboxes and consecutive reviews by paralegals and attorneys during which papers and files are shuffled back and forth.

— Janet Reed, Attorney

In this final article in a series, Family Law attorney Janet Reed discusses the advancements and impact of technology upon the legal profession, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience in terms of satisfaction and customer service. As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the legal profession is no exception. 

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/

Incorporating technology into a law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations. Here are a few, simple-to-implement options.

Payment Services-Electronic Invoices

Payment by check is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Credit Card Payments are now commonplace, and even other forms of payment such as ACH, wire transfers, and Paypal are becoming more commonplace. While there are costs associated with taking credit card payments or Paypal, the ease of use and the increased speed of getting paid are often worth the fees. Many merchant account vendors now provide a Web portal to facilitate online payments. Google and Square (www.square.com) as well as Legal Software Systems (www.legalsoftwaresystems.com) provide technology to accept payments via smartphone. 

There are ethics opinions regarding Attorneys accepting credit cards for payments, thus one should consult the local ethics rules.

Confidentiality Protections

Maintaining the confidentiality of client information is an ethical foundation of the profession. Encryption tools may add extra security to electronic communications. Document efforts to keep their clients’ information safe and secure.

Signing Documents Electronically

Services like DocuSign (www.docusign.com), RightSignature (www.rightsignature.com) and e-Sign Live (www.esignlive.com) can save time and effort in cases where no wet signature is required and an electronic signature is sufficient.

On-line Calendaring and Scheduling

Scheduling meetings can be an enormous drag upon staff time and efficiency. This may cause delays and confusion, especially when the client or lawyer must re-schedule a previously scheduled meeting.

There are several options for simplifying scheduling. One of them is TimeTap (www.timetap.com). For example, potential clients can instantly schedule an appointment online. It also removes impediments from new clients to make contact with one’s Firm.

Online scheduling and appointment booking products such as TimeTap synchronize with your Outlook or Google calendar and display your free and busy times to your clients and prospects. 

Then, by simply clicking on a button from your Web site or using a secure portal, they can select one of your free times and can directly set up an appointment. Time Tap offers the ability to send out automated appointment reminders, and lets one reschedule and automatically send the rescheduling information. This added efficiency and flexibility means fewer demands on their overcrowded schedules. These services will contribute to improved quality, convenience and affordability.

Example of Technology Suite for a Small Law Firm

In case you wonder what technologies other law firms have, here is an actual real life example. This small law firm uses the following technologies:

• CosmoLex (online and App) – Law Practice Management Software
• LawPay (online and App) – Payment software for billing/invoicing.
• Google Suite (online and App) – Document creation/management.
• Dropbox (online and App) – Transfer/management of large files.
• Westlaw – Legal Research.
• Skype – Phones & video conferencing.
• Facetime – Client communications.

And since many law firms are gradually going “paperless,” a system for scanning documents and managing electronic files becomes indispensable.

Conclusion

Harnessing technology can greatly increase client satisfaction, save time and effort, and reduce the stress of practicing law in this fast-moving world. Undoubtedly, technology will continue to change the ways that legal teams serve their clients. My personal advice is to take it step-by-step: evaluate where is the greatest need in your office. Cooperating on documents? Scheduling appointments with clients? Making payments easier for clients? Then develop a strategy for best addressing those needs by implementing one of the numerous technological options and integrating it into the workflow of the office.


The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/


About Janet Pittman Reed, Attorney in North Carolina

Janet P. Reed is an attorney in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and handles Family Law cases such as Divorce & Separation, Personal Injury, Traffic, Criminal Law, Driver’s License Restoration Services, and Civil Litigation cases.


References:


*** Janet Pittman Reed has been licensed for 30 years and handles cases in Divorce & Separation. This attorney works in Jacksonville, NC and attended University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law. She was admitted in North Carolina in 1997.

Family Law Attorney Janet Reed publishes third article in a series about Technology & the Legal Profession






Family Law Attorney Janet Reed publishes third article in a series about Technology & the Legal Profession

As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the Family Law practitioner is not exempt, explains Janet Reed, Esq.

In fact, proactive communications with clients may be an effective marketing tool, such as an alert to a client about regulatory actions that are about to affect them, or changes in child support requirements.

In this third article in a series, attorney Janet Reed discusses the advancements and impact of technology upon the Family Law practitioner, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience in terms of satisfaction and customer service. As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the legal profession is no exception. 

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/

Technology is advancing, and the legal profession must keep up with these technological and societal changes. Many of us still remember when they first saw a personal computer, when cell phones became widely available, and when cell phones turned into smart phones that have become indispensable for many.

Incorporating technology into a law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations. Here are a few, simple-to-implement options.

Phone Systems

Phone systems have advanced greatly. A wealth of call forwarding technologies enable clients to call a central number to reach an attorney anywhere. Skype enables you to conduct video conference calls during which you can share a screen and exchange documents.

But with phone forwarding, you may even have a remote answering such as Ruby Receptionists (www.callruby.com), which then takes a message or forwards the call to a specified phone number. Other services with great flexibility include Ring Central (www.ringentral.com), Ooma (www.ooma.com) and Jive (www.jive.com).

Suddenly a physical office or geographical distance are less important. It has become almost normal for clients to work with law firms at a greater distance from their home or business location. Having an office close to your clients (or close to the courthouse) is suddenly not as critical.

Janet Reed notes that this also benefits clients, as they may decide to hire an attorney whose office is not nearby. It affords clients access to much greater legal talent and improved access to quality representation than was once available to them in smaller towns/markets. 

What used to be an in-person consultation can now be done by email or a video conference. Since the number of in-person meetings is reduced, the cost to clients is reduced as well.

Virtual Meetings

Getting together for face-to-face meetings with clients can sometimes be difficult, especially when it includes travel. Skype (www.skype.com) and EZ Talks (www.eztalks.com), www.GoToMeeting.com and other video systems allow you to offer the experience of a live meeting, which can be much more productive and stimulating than a simple phone call, since human beings communicate to large extent non-verbally, through gestures, facial expressions, etc. Numerous Web-conferencing tools provide such visual and human elements of a live meeting. They allow attendees to communicate, collaborate on documents and even give presentations in real time.

In fact, there are free (or almost free) services with a lot of functionality that are useful for sharing and discussing on-screen documents, giving a presentation, recording and chat capabilities.

Client Portals

Online Client Portals are an option especially for a high-volume practice such as bankruptcy or Family Law law. Instead of answering innumerable phone calls with questions such as “What is the status of my case?”, the firm offers access to a Portal where clients can see their exact case status in real time. In fact, password-protected portions of a law firm’s website may be a more secure alternative to email. Clients can access their case information day or night, comment on drafts and get updates on court dates. Examples include Practice Panther (www.practicepanther.com) and One Hub (www.onehub.com).

Still somewhat expensive due to the cost and complexity of implementation, client portals will undoubtedly proliferate further as the technology matures.

Social Media 

Whether you like it or not, Social Media has become inescapable. Review websites like Yelp! or Avvo list Attorneys regardless and allow anybody to post reviews and comments about one’s practice. Further, Facebook creates “inofficial” Facebook pages for professionals, which in effect may force them to set up actual Facebook pages and join their platform. In many cases, the best option for the legal practitioner may be to embrace Social Media and claim the profile to use and control it to their advantage.

Google Maps - Locations

In past, even small problems like “I cannot find your office” could interrupt a client relationship. No more. Today you can put “Directions” on your website to ensure that all clients can find your office easily when they have to. Google Maps can be customized for clients, and also shows the way to related locations to one’s Practice (i.e. Courthouse, Government Offices, etc.). Google Streetview also can show clients what your office building looks like from the outside.

Case Reminders

Everybody is busy. We all receive too many emails. Thus, many messages get lost in the shuffle. Providing communications or updates via email, text message, or voicemail can remind clients of upcoming appointments, deadlines, court dates, etc.

Sharing Information with Clients

Here at our law firm, at the commencement of services, we fully discuss communication preferences with clients. This includes discussing methods for exchanging confidential information and their preferences for receiving other, general communications.

In fact, proactive communications with clients may be an effective marketing tool, such as an alert to a client about regulatory actions that are about to affect their business.

To be continued.

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/

*NOTE: The inclusion of a technology or app in this article does not mean an endorsement or approval. The listed technologies are just for illustrative purposes. None of these particular technologies are endorsed or recommended by this author.


About Janet Pittman Reed, Attorney in North Carolina

Janet P. Reed is an attorney in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and handles Family Law cases such as Divorce & Separation, Personal Injury, Traffic, Criminal Law, Driver’s License Restoration Services, and Civil Litigation cases.


References:



*** Janet Pittman Reed has been licensed for 30 years and handles cases in Divorce & Separation. This attorney works in Jacksonville, NC and attended University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law. She was admitted in North Carolina in 1997.

Family Law Attorney Janet Reed publishes second article in a series about technology & Family Law practice




Family Law Attorney Janet Reed publishes second article in a series about technology & Family Law practice

Experienced Family Law lawyer reviews the advancements of technology upon the Family Law practitioner, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience.

Incorporating technology into a Family Law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations
— Janet Reed, Attorney

In her second published article in a series, North Carolina-based Family Law attorney Janet Reed discusses the advancements and impact of technology upon the Family Law practice, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience in terms of satisfaction and customer service. As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the Family Law practitioner profession is no exception. 

This article focuses on Family Law research and document management. The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/

As technology is advancing, the legal profession is not exempt. Incorporating technology into a law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations. Here are a few, simple-to-implement options.

Research Efficiency

The internet has placed all of society’s information at one’s fingertips, and again the legal profession is not exempt. The speed of research has dramatically increased. An attorney can analyze a legal matter much more quickly without even leaving the desk. However, that is what clients expect nowadays - instant results.

There are a few tools that can make your job easier. For example, many cases and articles are available for free on Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/) or on Findlaw (https://www.Findlaw.com). Most courts post their forms and cases on the Web, reducing search time to minutes and saving you a walk to the courthouse.

Coming back to smart phones, many attorneys today use them even for legal work. A 2016 survey conducted by the American Bar Association found that 88 percent of respondents used smart phones for law-related work. A fifth of them were using research apps, and those numbers have undoubtedly surged since. 

e-Subscriptions

To make your law practice more efficient, subscribing to multiple industry-related blogs and news outlets may deliver relevant information right to your email inbox. In turn, you may be able to tailor valuable information to specific clients and send them a proactive communication.

The Cloud/On-Line Repositories

There are many ways to incorporate a secure document repository in your practice. Online document management providers offer some limited client document sharing and also offer full-scale extranets as an add-on. There are many options and price points for achieving the logical benefit of client document repositories.

Web-based software enables a firm’s documents to be securely stored in “the cloud” and provide accessibility from nearly any location. The safety of such storage systems has increased greatly, and allows you to have remote access while on the road or working from home.

For example, you can set up a system whereby the lawyer uploads the documents he/she wants to share with the client and the client accesses them via a secure log-in. 

Janet Reed concludes that the benefit to the client includes having all the documents for a matter in a single repository, accessible at his convenience, with the lawyer taking responsibility for document management. One can update or replace the documents as needed, thus eliminating concerns over versions. Popular examples include www.litigationservices.com and www.alphareporting.com 

To be continued. - The complete articles will be published on the blog of Ms. Reed at https://janetreedesq.blogspot.com/

*NOTE: The inclusion of a technology or app in this article does not mean an endorsement or approval. The listed technologies are just for illustrative purposes. None of these particular technologies are endorsed or recommended by this author.


About Janet Pittman Reed, Attorney in North Carolina

Janet P. Reed is an attorney in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and handles Family Law cases such as Divorce & Separation, Personal Injury, Traffic, Criminal Law, Driver’s License Restoration Services, and Civil Litigation cases.


References:

  *** Janet Pittman Reed has been licensed for 30 years and handles cases in Divorce & Separation. This attorney works in Jacksonville, NC and attended University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law. She was admitted in North Carolina in 1997.

Final article in a series about technology & the legal profession published by Family Law attorney Janet Reed

Final article in a series about technology & the legal profession published by Family Law attorney Janet Reed As technology i...