- Manage clients/matters, including conflict checking
- Calendaring deadlines, hearings, and tasks
- Organize contacts
- Track time and expenses
- Accounting, including tracking expenses, invoicing clients, and managing trust funds
- Manage communications with clients and others
- Manage documents
- Conducting legal research
- Managing risk
Practice Management Basics
So now that you have a law firm, how do you stay organized and best accomplish your clients’ goals? How will you keep track of deadlines, check for conflicts, manage client information, track your time, bill clients, and draft documents? There are many ways to manage all of these responsibilities, including software devoted to managing some or all of these concerns in one central location.
Managing your practice should include the following elements:
These elements may be addressed by one single software solution or through several working together.
Practice Management Software
The following are all options that manage multiple aspects of your practice
There may be other options not traditionally marketed to law firms that may also meet your needs.
And still other options can manage one piece of your practice. You may need multiple pieces of software to meet all of your needs
- Microsoft Office, including Outlook
- Libre Office (free office suite)
- PaperPort Pro
There are also many legal research options available, some of which may be available for free at your local law library
While there are many considerations in how to manage your practice, additional concerns arise when using some or all of these software options:
Will you maintain paper files or attempt to maintain a paperless office?
- Need less office space to hold and organize paper files
- Eliminate the need for buying office products related to storing paper files
- Electronically maintained records are more easily searched and updated
- More easily permit remote working or virtual offices
- Can be more expensive to setup because of the hardware/software needed
- Can require additional security, depending on how many people will have access to the documents
- May be difficult to find documents that are “misfiled” electronically
For more on paperless offices, check out the following resources:
Will you maintain your files in the cloud or only in your office? Having a paperless office is likely a prerequisite to maintaining your files in the cloud, so many of the same pros and cons exist. But there are additional security concerns for lawyers for keeping files in the cloud. Check out the following resources for more that you should consider before storing your firm’s—and your clients’—documents online.
- Clearing Up the Cloud
- Quick Start Guide on Cloud Computing
- Due Diligence Considerations for Lawyers Evaluating Cloud Computing Service Providers
- I am interviewing cloud providers. What questions should I ask?
- What do I need to know about keeping my network secure?
- How can I safely share files with a client over the internet?
- Ethics in the Tech Age
You will need to manage the risk of operating your law firm. While Florida does not require its attorneys to maintain malpractice insurance, it is important—particularly for new lawyers—to obtain an appropriate amount of insurance in the event a mistake occurs. The following resources should help you determine whether and how much insurance to buy: