Assemble Documents Faster
- An attorney who needs to develop more efficient processes to offer more flat or other alternative fee arrangements?
- A lawyer who wants to streamline document creation and editing to turn work around faster?
- A paralegal, legal assistant or other law office staff member who's being crushed under a heavy workload in the face of layoffs or hiring freezes?
If you work in a law office, chances are you do a lot of your daily work in Microsoft Word. After all, documents are central to virtually every law practice. Pleadings, agreements, letters ... they're the tangible "work product" of all that thinking and analyzing and strategizing you do every day.
Yet, even as technology advances, we still create and edit documents the same way we did in the 1990s:
- Find a sample document from a prior matter with comparable facts and photocopy/print it
- Take a red pen/pencil and mark it up with revised information
- Make the necessary word processing changes, including updating dates and other variable information
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 over and over until you reach perfection!
For a long time, we could all say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But The New Legal Normal changed all that.
How "The New Legal Normal" changed our outlook ... forever
Back when virtually every law practice was billing clients by the hour, efficiency wasn't on our radar.
But The New Legal Normal (courtesy of the recent Great Recession) has forced all of us to rethink everything. A recent study shows that over 80% of law firms are now billing at least some work on a fixed or other alternative fee basis. And those changes are only going to spread to more and more law practices as clients demand cost-saving measures.
The time for change is ... yesterday
If we can no longer bill for however much time it takes to do our work, then we have to:
- Figure out methods for creating and editing documents faster
- Become more aware of the processes we use in daily work
- Find ways to shave time off routine processes so we can put out more work product in less time (and sometimes with fewer people)
- Eliminate the bottlenecks in how we do things
- Use the tools we have more intelligently
There's no silver bullet
The temptation here is to think that there's some tool somewhere that can make it all better in one fell swoop. The bad news is, that's a fantasy.
But actually that's good news, because making incremental improvements in the tools we already have (e.g., Microsoft Word) is something you can do without spending money on new software or loads of time implementing it. It's not only the least interruptive method for improvement, it's the most cost-effective, too.