Lawyers in the United States are still mostly geared towards virtual work. By now you have probably experienced more virtual meetings than ever before and are familiar with video conferencing applications. However, there are many other virtual tools that you can use for your business to improve your efficiency and productivity, and to make remote or virtual work a much better experience for you and your customers alike.
Here are just a few examples of some of the virtual tools to consider for your law firm.
If you haven’t invested in cloud storage for your business, now is the time. Cloud storage applications such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive make it easy for everyone in your company to upload and share documents or access them from anywhere via an Internet connection. You can also customize who has access to what items to ensure that sensitive customer information never reaches anyone without permission to view it.
Collaborative word processing
There are a variety of online word processing tools that can make developing and editing documents much easier. Instead of turning on “Track Changes” in Microsoft Word and e-mailing a single document back and forth, you can collaborate on an online document in real time. Google Docs is perhaps the most common example of this, but there are plenty of other options that need to be considered as well.
If you need help transcribing recordings or jotting down notes, there are dictation tools for both speech and text. The speech recognition technology in these applications makes transcribing and noting much more efficient. Just start speaking and watch the words appear in front of you.
You are already familiar with video conferencing and the advantages it can have for internal meetings and customer meetings. VoIP phone services are also of great benefit to businesses that do a lot more virtual work. VoIP calls are routed over Internet networks. You can use the same numbers anywhere that you would use in your stationary location on any Internet-connected device. VOIP also includes unlimited phone calls (including international calls), conference calling features, and voicemail.
Virtual call center
If your company is big enough to have phone support staff or a call center, software like 8 × 8 and Aircall can help. They act as a virtual call center and allow you to keep track of the hours spent on the phone.
Practice management tools
The practice management software gives you a central application for items like calendar, contacts, invoices, important documents, communication tracking, financial data and other important information for managing your company. Some tools include lead management functions, e-signature functions, email, text messaging, and other collaboration tools.
Intraoffice chat tools
Chat tools like Slack, Salesforce Chatter, and Microsoft Teams make it easy for your lawyers and staff to communicate quickly – you may even have used them before the pandemic. Instead of knocking on someone else’s office door or calling a meeting, you can send messages to specific channels or people. Features include sharing files and photos, discrete channels for various purposes (e.g. administration, clients, recent cases, and even chat with water coolers), and switching between workspaces.
With a number of new virtual tools come a whole new set of passwords to save. If you use a password manager like 1Password or LastPass, you can enter all the passwords for your virtual tools and then give your team members secure access without sharing the actual password. Your team has access to interfaces such as your practice management software. If a member leaves the account or their account is compromised, you can simply revoke access to keep their data safe.
Whether you want to work virtually for the foreseeable future, become a paperless office, or both, every employee must have access to a reliable scanner. There are many inexpensive portable scanners out there – but with the help of apps like Scanner Pro or Tiny Scanner, your phone can act as a portable scanner. Most of these apps cost less than $ 10 and include multi-page scanning, uploading to cloud storage, and more.
Although COVID-19 has forced many businesses to practice virtually, today’s technology enables them to continue working from home. These tools will help you cope with the pandemic and adapt to the “new normal” without losing productivity.