3 Ways Online Scheduling Can Improve Your Law Firm’s Client Success & Retention
Lawyers are busy but don't let that get in the way of offering a great service.
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The legal system is highly dependent on meetings. The largest law firms, for example, can have as many as 2,000 lawyers on staff working across 20 global offices and hold over 50,000 meetings in a single year. That’s no small number.
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These can be firm-wide meetings, meetings with administrative staff, meetings with senior partners, introductory meetings with clients, meetings to conduct depositions with witnesses, to name a few. In each of these cases, it’s vital that the meetings are scheduled quickly and efficiently so as not to cause unnecessary delays or problems with cases in progress. But if getting the meetings booked into everyone’s calendars is a slow, tedious and complicated process, it could hurt your law firm’s reputation and client retention.
This is where an enterprise-level scheduling technology tool comes into play. It will help streamline operational processes within your law firm, get important meetings in the books faster (and more efficiently), allow your teams to focus on winning cases and retaining high-value clients. All of these benefits will position your law firm to not only survive the current crisis, but also to grow and thrive long after.
Simplify the complexities of meeting with different parties across multiple locations
It takes a village to build and win legal cases. In a medium to large sized law firm, there are probably 30+ people involved in the research, preparation and writing of legal briefs. Once those legal briefs are drafted, you’ll then need to get them reviewed and signed off by the senior partners in your law firm. And of course, you’ll need to gather everyone together before going to court to organize your strategy, assign owners to specific tasks and make sure all contingencies have been thought of in advance. But, I can bet all of these senior partners, lawyers, research assistants, paralegals and administrative staff are not located in the same office. They’re most likely based in different cities, states and even countries – that could mean juggling schedules between 10 different time zones. If I had to describe this scenario in one word, it would be ‘complicated.’
While some might view this as a minor, harmless issue, I beg to differ. Trying to schedule meetings with 30+ stakeholders across 10+ time zones could, in fact, have catastrophic consequences for your law firm. If an important meeting is held up for 30 days simply because you couldn’t get everyone together to make key decisions, your client’s case could be delayed, which could affect their confidence in your ability to manage the case. It could also lead to miscommunication among your internal teams, which could result in poor execution of your legal strategy and eventually lead to a negative outcome in the case.
The fact of the matter is that scheduling is much more than an administrative function in legal meetings. Because meetings are essential to the success of legal cases, I would argue it’s extremely important. But more often than not, it gets in the way of your ability to build and execute your legal strategies for clients. So how can law firms use an online meeting scheduling tool to simplify the complexities of meeting with different parties across multiple locations?
Improve communication and transparency with clients
Communication is the name of the game. What you say, how you say it, when you say it and where you say it can make a difference in how the message is received. This is especially true for law firms. Even though you’re a law firm, remember that your clients are not legal experts. So when it comes time to communicate with them, do it frequently and avoid using complicated legal jargon. The easier you make it for your clients to understand your message, the less likely you are to have miscommunication, confusion and frustration. Those are not emotions you want to foster among your clients.
While you’re undoubtedly an expert in all things law, don’t let that get in the way of your ability to listen to your clients. If you’re organizing an online group meeting with 10 stakeholders from one of your top clients, ask everyone to put themselves on mute (unless speaking). Also, allow for and embrace natural pauses and free time so people can jump in with questions, thoughts or feedback.
Less time spent on administrative tasks means more time and focus on clients
Billable hours are the lifeline of law firms. They are the lawyer hours that clients pay for directly. They’re also what law firms spend a great deal of time and energy on measuring and tracking, as they can directly impact your law firm’s bottom line.
Non-billable hours, however, is time that cannot be billed directly to clients. Tasks, such as calendaring, thinking and networking, fall squarely into the category of non-billable hours. This poses a bit of a conundrum for many law firms. Meetings are essential to your success. And you can’t get those meetings on the books without the scheduling process. But the scheduling process falls outside the realm of billable hours. Yet, if the scheduling process is slow, inefficient and overly complicated, it could eat into your billable hours.
Since scheduling isn’t considered worthy of billable hours, but can also directly impact your ability to manage your cases, scheduling can’t simply go on the way it has been. That’s just not a viable solution. It won’t do your law firm or your clients any good. So how can your law firm use scheduling technology to handle all of your scheduling needs, without having to waste time, and put that time and focus towards your clients?
These may seem like small and inconsequential steps to take, but I assure you they aren’t. Each of these recommendations can result in a considerable amount of time saved. And as we found in our recent State of Meetings report, 26 percent of professionals said poorly organized meetings impacted their client relationships, while 44 percent feel it impacts their ability to actually do their work.
The less time your law firm spends on non-billable tasks, such as scheduling, the more time you can dedicate to building a strong case for your clients and, ultimately, wow your clients with your work ethic and performance. That will hopefully keep clients coming back to your law firm for additional work and establishing a trusting relationship that will contribute to bottom-line growth.