Specialised software solutions to increase the productivity and efficiency of law firms are only slowly being adopted here in Australia, despite a number of software solutions already being present within the market. Concerningly, there are only a few pieces of law firm management software that can be accessed on both mobile phones and tablets here in Australia. More and more law firms are becoming progressive in the adoption of digital technology and this lack of cross-platform integration is very disappointing.
If you are looking for software to streamline your law firm’s day to day business processes, I highly recommend that you use a cloud-based solution if possible. The great thing about cloud-based software is, no matter whether you are in the office, working from home or set up at a cafe, you have all your data available at your fingertips and not just stored on a single system located within your office.
My recommendation for cloud-based software comes from when I was still practising law. I had the personal pleasure of using a piece of all-in-one software called LEAP within my practice. Whilst the cost of LEAP might make some lawyers wince, I found that the long-term value provided outstripped the purchase cost significantly. The all-in-one capabilities and efficiencies of LEAP helped me become incredibly productive with my time. I am still very impressed with it to this day, even though I have now moved on to the fantastic world of digital marketing.
In this article, we will explore all the great capabilities of LEAP and how it will help vastly improve your law firm’s process efficiency. Whilst I highly praise and recommend the use of LEAP software for law firms, Marketlytics and myself are in no way affiliated with Leap Legal Software Pty Ltd. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Important Criteria When Choosing The Best Software For a Small Law Firm
Here is my set of five criteria you should consider before purchasing software for your law firm.
- The software should be widely adopted
- The software should not be overly customisable
- The software should be cloud-based
- The software should have automation capabilities
- The software should provide good value for money
The Software Should Be Widely Adopted
Any software you choose to use should have a wide adoption rate amongst the legal community. Lesser known and niche software systems are just not going to have the integrations that you will inevitably need later down the track. Adopting a popular platform will also make it easier for you to access helpful materials when you get stuck or have technical issues.
On the off chance that has the ability to create your own software system from scratch, we recommend that you focus on servicing clients instead and let the full-time software developers do what they do best.
The Software Should Not Be Overly Customisable
Software that is highly customisable seems like a great idea at first, but we are informed that most options out there are prohibitively expensive and well beyond the advertised initial cost. The reality is, a well thought out and developed software is going to do you very well and save you a good amount of money whilst you’re at it.
The Software Should Be Cloud-Based
Preferably, the software you choose should be cloud-based, as it will allow for greater accessibility to you and your team. Traditional software solutions take up valuable server or computer space, typically require manual updates and limit your ability to work remotely.
The Software Should Have Automation Capabilities
A software solution in this day and age is not complete without automation. No matter whether it is accounting, practice management or other law firm management software, automation is a key reason to use the platform within your law practice. It greatly reduces manual entry and vastly improves productivity.
The Software Should Provide Good Value For Money
No matter how useful the software you choose is, it must bring value for money. Our advice within this article takes this into consideration. Whilst it is nice to have all these bells and whistles, there is no point in burning money on software that goes beyond your needs.
The Best Time & Billing Software Solution For Small Law Firms
Keeping records of your time and billing is very important. Thankfully, LEAP has a great system to help you keep track of it all. An integration with Microsoft Word and a feature called “Time Save & Close” allows for seamless automatic recording as soon as a document is opened on your computer.
Time Save & Close feature within Microsoft Word, accessed under the LEAP integrated toolbar.
“Time Save & Close” creates a new time entry that records both billing rates and time in one easy location. This feature allows for different billing rates to be associated to the time recorded, making it quick and easy for any staff member to use. Simply select the rate from the dropdown box, add any additional notes and then you are done, easy as that.
New Time Entry Dialogue Box displays the time attributed to a client and the billing rate associated with them.
Billing Rate dropdown box within New Time Entry which allows you to select a different billing rate.
The Best Practice Management Software Solution For Small Law Firms
LEAP is fantastic for all your Practice Management needs. It has everything you could ever want in one place and allows for easy access no matter where you go, thanks to its cloud-based platform. I find that the drafting tools within LEAP are far superior to those of its competitors. In my opinion, this advantage has been in many thanks to LEAP’s early adoption of cloud-based technology around 2006 and the continual improvements made to the software up until this day.
One great feature is the automatic updating of Legal Rates based on your location. LEAP makes sure that you always have the most accurate and latest rates available to you, which usually means more money can be collected and your ROI will improve.
Legal Rates dialogue box showing the rates for various legal processes.
Another great feature is Guides & Precedents, which is contributed by By Lawyers. This feature provides up to date information on the area of law you are representing. These guides and precedents are regularly kept up to date and can come in handy when laws change. Think of this as your personal legal Wikipedia.
Guides & Precedents Dialogue Box outlining the offence of drink/drug driving.
Within Guides & Precedents, you also have access to Alerts and Commentary, these two helpful additions to Guides & Precedents are regularly kept up to date, based on the area of law that you are practising.
Alerts and Commentary within the Guides & Precedents Dialogue Box.
LEAP and By Lawyers employ two legal professionals within each specialty of law to cross-reference and pioneer the content provided within LEAP software. For example, a divorce lawyer will do most of the hard work putting together the resource, whilst another divorce lawyer proofreads their work. Before the resource is uploaded to LEAP, an internal audit on the work is conducted to ensure the accuracy of the information provided.
There are guides, templates and precedents for nearly every area of law, making it easier than ever for small law firms. Automation processes allow for the automatic input of information into documents, speeding up the process further.
Updating is simple, just press the bell in the top corner of the software. LEAP does not charge for updates and offers unlimited support to its customers through a help desk. When an update is made available, it is as easy as a quick push of a button. No matter where you use LEAP software, support will be there for you.
Notification dropdown with no new notifications or updates.
In Australia, it is hard to find good Legal Practice Management software, which is both detailed and easy to use. LEAP is a great all-in-one case management solution and shouldn’t be ignored.
The Best Accounting Software Solution For Small Law Firms
LEAP integrates seamlessly into Xero Accounting Software, making it easier than ever for you and your law firm to keep track of its finances. Law specific automation and workflows have been incorporated to help you manage everything yourself. This integration to Xero is particularly attractive to small law firms that do not have the capacity to use an external accountant. Xero acts as an excellent small business payroll software and is widely adopted by many small businesses around the world.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the interface is very straightforward and you have access to everything you need to productively manage your firm’s accounting needs. You will save money and find it incredibly easy to use, as it is tailored for specific use within a law office.
The interface of LEAP’s accounting integration.
Don’t be at the mercy of an accountant, who basically runs your business, whilst you are the actual owner. With LEAP, you are in charge.
The Best Customer Relationship Management Software Solution For Small Law Firms
For Customer Relationship Management (CRM), LEAP makes use of integration with RedView. RedView is a CRM platform specifically tailored with the legal profession in mind. RedView houses all your client’s information in one place for easy access and provides useful information that can be used to develop marketing objectives for your law firm.
In the screenshot below, you can see the many metrics that are made available to you, so you can make informed decisions.
RedView CRM dashboard displaying metrics that are important to keep a track of.
Keeping track of where your leads are coming from is very important. Doing so will inform you where the budget should be best allocated.
RedView CRM dashboard containing data relating to where enquires are coming from.
From what we have heard, RedView can be also directly integrated with Google and Facebook, giving you access to even more data to work with. However, we couldn’t verify specifics of the integrations.
Customer Data that you have collected within RedView can be exported to your email marketing platform of choice, eliminating the tedious manual process of inputting data all over again.
The Best Collaboration Software Solution For Small Law Firms
LEAP makes use of integration with LawConnect to provide their customers with a secure collaboration and project management platform. LawConnect allows law firms, clients and associated third parties to connect in one place, with the ability to access case documents, provide sign-offs, collaborate and handle billing.
The LawConnect platform is very robust and has all the necessary features you need to help complete pending matters.
LawConnect houses all your firm’s matters in one easily accessible place.
LawConnect features an easy to understand and navigatable dashboard, making it easy for any staff member to access what they require. The screenshot below shows recent notifications and accessed documents, allowing for even faster access to recent matters.
Recent Dashboard within LawConnect allows for easy access to recent documents and notifications.
Within documents, you have the ability to leave details and comments for your client. Clients can even be requested to provide their signature electronically on the document. If there are any collaborations made, they will be automatically uploaded directly into the file.
The easy to use document interface of LawConnect allows for notes, commenting, e-signatures and collaboration.
Why I Recommend LEAP For Small Law Firms – My Further Thoughts
If you couldn’t tell by now, I absolutely loved using LEAP when I was a practising lawyer and I couldn’t recommend it enough to lawyers and small law firms who need an easy to use, all-in-one solution to make their business processes simplified and lightning-fast.
My recommendation for LEAP comes from its easy to navigate interface and solid integrations. Whilst the price point of LEAP might make some people wince, I am a firm believer in the idea “you get what you pay for”. The value-add provided by LEAP is well worth it in my opinion. Some alternatives out there might be cheaper, but they offer significantly fewer features for their discounted price and often charge for additional functionalities that LEAP already includes.
Make sure that you never base your decision solely on price and that the software you choose meets your firm’s current and future needs.
Does LEAP Have A Solution For My Law Firm’s Digital Marketing Needs?
At the time of writing this article, LEAP does not currently have any Digital Marketing capabilities integrated within their software and I don’t believe they will be anytime soon, as integrating the three major channels lawyers use would prove to be difficult in my personal opinion. These three major channels are Google Ads, Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads. Each platform serves a different purpose and contains its own complexities and internal processes. Integrating these three platforms wouldn’t be impossible, but just very difficult.
In the meantime, law firms will have to make use of Google’s, Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s advertising interfaces to execute their digital advertising goals. As they stand, these three platforms are inherently complex to the average, untrained person. Mastering the interfaces of these three different platforms is a feat on its own, mastering the many executable strategies you need to successfully acquire leads is another. This is where a digital marketing agency for lawyers, such as Marketlytics can help.
Ultimately, the strategy and the channel you choose to advertise your services on comes down to your legal niche and how aware your audience is. My article The Best Law Firm Business Development Strategy For Your Practice Area details the best digital advertising channels that are likely to work for your legal niche.
Below, I have written a brief summary on each of these platforms and linked a relevant article if you wish to learn more about them.
Google Ads For Law Firms
Google Ads is your go-to platform if a matter is urgent, however, Google Ads can become very expensive, very quickly. Depending on the competitiveness of your niche, the bid cost of certain keywords can be quite high, so you must be willing to allocate a decent part of your marketing budget to ad spend each month.
Managing multiple campaigns for different legal niches can easily become a headache, that’s why I suggest utilising a digital marketing agency to relieve the pressure. My article on the Pro’s and Con’s of DIY Google Ads goes into more depth on this topic and highlights why lawyers should use a Pay-Per-Click agency for their Google Ads needs.
Facebook Ads For Small Law Firms
Facebook is a great platform for when matters aren’t urgent and don’t require immediate action. Contrary to Google Ads, Facebook Ads is quite cheap and allows for targeting to specific audiences with defined interests. Facebook Ads is quite nitpicky and won’t hesitate to ban your account if it thinks you have done something wrong. This ban can also affect any other linked business accounts you have associated with your personal Facebook account, so it is advisable to hire a digital marketing agency that knows what they are doing.
My article Is Facebook Advertising Actually Effective For Lawyers in 2021? dives into how law firms can use Facebook Ads and whether the platform is still effective for lawyers in 2021.
LinkedIn Ads For Small Law Firms
LinkedIn Ads is comparable to Facebook, however, there are differences between both platforms. LinkedIn serves business professionals and businesses, making it great for Commercial Law. Audiences can be targeted based on salary, business size and business sector, making it incredibly easy to reach your desired audience. You can also utilise a LinkedIn Outreach strategy to form referral relationships with business professionals.
I have written a handy article for lawyers who are just getting started with LinkedIn. I go in-depth on how to get started with the platform, including how to use LinkedIn for marketing and how to set up your LinkedIn profile, so you can be successful with LinkedIn Outreach.
For me, LEAP is an obvious choice. The platform will help improve the efficiency and productiveness of any law firm and allows everything to be housed in one convenient place. Not to mention, LEAP’s ability to be accessed no matter where you are, thanks to its cloud-based nature. During my time as a practising lawyer, I made heavy use of LEAP. My efficiency in handling matters skyrocketed and client satisfaction was at an all-time high.
Of course, LEAP isn’t perfect. The platform does rely on several integrations to provide vital services, but I can assure you, these integrations work seamlessly and justify LEAP’s monthly cost. Missing from the platform is Marketing, which requires external execution on Google Ads, Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads. I have linked several articles above on these platforms, going into detail on their benefits, use-cases and strategies.
If you are looking to improve your law firm with law practice management software, I hope I have successfully convinced you to explore LEAP as an option. If you require assistance with creating or managing digital advertising campaigns for your law firm, my agency can help you with all your digital marketing needs. I have personally practised as a lawyer and understand how the industry operates, making it easy to generate effective and engaging advertisements. If you require a hand with your digital marketing, book a free discovery call with me now.
All discovery calls are confidential
Clarence Ling is the founding partner of Marketlytics, and a dynamic character. Initially a trained Lawyer and Practice Development Manager, he contributed to the growth of his firm, including implementing software.
Clarence Ling is a Digital Advertising and Analytics Expert. Having a wide range of advertising experience ranging from international real estate, to legal and previously worked in full service marketing agencies, Clarence is a diligent marketer with an eye for detail and a talent for numbers.
Clarence can carefully plan out the best budget levels for the desired outcomes with projections that are more accurate than most.
His background in Analytics enables a clear, big picture assessment of both organic and paid campaigns, enabling maximum efficiency of those digital campaigns. His analytical background brings precise clarity of client or customer interaction and behaviour on online assets.
Clarence’s four fields of practice are Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Email Marketing (EDM). He is best as an Advertiser and is an avid collector of Software As A Service (SaaS) Products, avidly investing in both technology and human capital of Marketlytics.