Startups are lean, frugal and innovative. There are a lot of best practices that startups follow that would benefit the legal industry. Lawyers need to accept that the industry is changing and clients’ needs are evolving. Clients are more educated on the legal process and seek transparency. Billable hours are a thing of the past. Lawyers should strive to become more efficient and aim to add the most value they can to their clients. Below is a list of ideas the legal industry should adopt.
1) Use Project management software
Basecamp, Trello and the like are project management applications. These applications enable you to manage your team’s work and keep everyone updated on the status of each project. Why law firm partners don’t use project management software is beyond me. If they did, they would be able to see how far along an associate is on given tasks and what assignments the third year associate is farming out to the first year. Another possible use would be for the clients to know the status of their cases. This may be too far fetched for the current mindset of attorneys nationwide, who would have heart attacks just thinking about the concept.
2) No more printing, signing and scanning
Docusign and other electronic signature applications are quite commonplace these days. Lawyers should be taking advantage of this technology instead of keeping to their ways of having the other party sign, scan and email signature pages.
3) Tangible business cards are a thing of the past
Evernote and formerly Cardmuch offer business card scanning software, which allows you to digitally transcribe all the business cards you collected last night while networking. Rolodexes are in the past, so it is time to digitize all of your contacts.
4) Daily Standups
Daily standups are a great way to start the day. During these meeting everyone in a department or on a team stands up and gives a short update on projects they are working on. If partners used this method with associates, everyone would feel clued into what was going on and what the status was on all the cases/deals going on.
5) Team Lunches
It is typical for startups to have a weekly or monthly lunch where the CEO stands up front and answers any questions company employees may have. Some startups even have weekly or monthly presentations by alternating departments as part of these team lunches. This enables the whole company to learn about what the other departments are working on.
Law firms should absolutely adopt this idea. Partners of large firms should hold AMAs (Ask Me Anything) where associates can ask them anything from specific legal issues to the vision for the firm in the near future. Team lunch presentation would also be helpful in educating IP lawyers on what Corporate attorneys do.