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How to increase your law firm’s billable hours

By Amir Tajkarimi

Over the course of this article, we’ll show you how to increase your law firm’s monthly billables by at least 10 hours in only 30 days, while reducing overhead.

This strategy was used by multiple law firms over the last three years, resulting in increased revenues, reduced overhead, and improved cost margins. Here are some of the results they reported:

  • One firm increased billables by eight hours per month.
  • Another firm reduced overhead by 10 hours per month.
  • A third firm improved cost margins by 12 per cent.

As a small law firm or solo practitioner, increasing billable hours is hard.

The obvious way to achieve this is by taking on more clients. But more clients often means increased overhead and more time spent at the office – not exactly what everyone is aiming for.

According to Clio’s 2017 Legal Trends Report, too much time is consumed by non-billable work, such as administrative tasks.

Office administration, generating and sending bills, configuring technology, and collections are all tasks which, combined, eat away 48 per cent of time that could otherwise be spent on billable tasks.

So, what can you do?

One thing is for sure: to be able to increase billable hours, you must be able to deliver faster, targeted, and more efficient legal services.

According to research and further case studies on the matter: The best way to do this is by automating a very dominant aspect of any legal practice: legal communication.

This concept is key. If you don’t know what it could mean for you or where to start, keep reading.

Whom is this for?

This solution has proven effective for any solo practitioner or small law firm looking for ways to:

  • increase revenues;
  • reduce time spent on overhead;
  • integrate better business processes;
  • find a cheaper alternative to hiring additional staff;
  • scale its business;
  • offer better legal services.

Who else is using this strategy?

This four-step strategy has been successfully implemented and used by thousands of attorneys and other legal professionals at solo, small, medium, and international law firms across the U.S. and Canada.

It has been featured in reputable legal and tech media, such as AdvocateDaily, Lawyerist, and many more.

With that out of the way, let’s dive right in.

Step 1: automate the service of documents

For decades, service of documents has remained unchanged. People trust paper. We can see it, touch it, and control it. In fact, we still resort to process servers, fax, registered mail, and courier services – because these traditional delivery methods offer reliable proof of receipt.

Paper delivery implies physically getting a notice or document from your office computer into the hands of your opposing counsel – think paper, printing, postage, labour, and service fees.

This process is time-consuming, expensive, and, more importantly, it simply does not scale.

Here’s the solution

Automate the service of documents at your law firm with an e-service solution.

Electronic service of documents is just like a digital process server. It’s essentially a better email solution with extra features that offers reliable tracking and proof of delivery.

Let’s not forget that it’s infinitely faster than the traditional methods mentioned above.

E-service is still fairly new and often misunderstood. There are very few companies who offer a complete and compliant solution for law firms.

Is it compliant in my jurisdiction?

In North America, court documents need to be served according to the Rules of Civil Procedure of the state or province in which the proceedings are taking place.

Every province in Canada and nearly every state in the U.S. allows for email service amongst counsel if proof of service is provided (with prior consent from opposing counsel required in certain cases).

There are no specific regulatory compliance requirements when serving non-court documents. A simple notice can, therefore, be served using any method that offers reliable proof of receipt.

Is it expensive?

Not at all. Solutions that offer electronic service of documents charge under $10 per transmission.

As a law firm you probably already know how much you’re paying in process serving fees. But, in general, you can expect a price ranging from $25 to $70, or more when it comes to same-day delivery.

In this day and age, clients no longer expect to be charged for paper, printing, and document delivery, forcing law firms to find more efficient ways of delivering legal services.

To that end, taking advantage of available and ever-emerging digital solutions will not only help you decrease overhead, but it will also allow you to cut down on costs and improve margins.

Step 2: simplify your file sharing process

If you work at a law firm, you’ve surely noticed that a great amount of time is routinely dedicated to emails. And we’re ready to bet that you’re also probably well aware of some of their limitations.

Email attachments and confidentiality disclaimers simply do not afford the level of security needed in today’s world, to protect your clients’ documents and comply with your ethical requirements.

Email is great when you’re looking to connect, ask questions, schedule appointments, and send small files. But when trying to share large files or sensitive information, regular email is not enough. Just consider the many who still resort to “Part 1, Part 2, Part 3” emails…

Moreover, email providers and firm IT policies often enforce security and file size restrictions, unbeknownst to the sender. This means that even if your provider allows you to send a file, it doesn’t guarantee that your recipient will see it in his inbox.

But let’s assume that your file does reach its destination – how will you know? Notwithstanding read-receipts which require the actual acknowledgment of the recipient, email offers no reliable way to track delivery statuses. These hassles translate into wasted time and unwanted frustrations.

Here’s the solution

Implementing a secure file sharing solution at your law firm is the answer to the pitfalls of regular email and customer portals.

Although there are many solutions available out there, you should pay attention to a few things, in order to ensure efficiency and avoid security issues.

Is it secure?

Security and privacy should be at the top of your priority checklist.

Without getting too technical, make sure your files are being encrypted under the 256-bit AES standard. To this day, this encryption method has never been cracked. Also, make sure that your data is encrypted in transit and at rest. In other words, from the moment you click send and throughout your files’ digital journey to their final destination, you want the entire transmission to be impregnable.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to inquire as to which cloud storage provider is hosting your files. Companies such as Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) offer a high level of reliability (i.e.: regular back-ups, secured physical infrastructures, redundancies, etc.).

Is it expensive?

When looking for the perfect solution, take storage space and cost into consideration. It won’t take you long to notice that most available digital solutions are extremely competitive in terms of pricing.

Therefore the price should not be the determinant factor. We recommend going for the most efficient and user-friendly solution. At the end of the day, this is a software you will be using on a regular basis – better choose one that’s easy to use.

With electronic service of documents and file sharing solutions, you now have the tools your law firm needs to effortlessly send documents without limitations.

But what about receiving and collecting documents? This brings us to step 3 of this four-step method to increase your amount of billable hours.

Step 3: integrate a document collection method

This is a fairly new concept. For the last couple of years, law firms have struggled to find efficient ways to collect sensitive documents from their clients. USB keys, CD-ROM, and complex FTP portals are still very commonly used.

Hardware devices such as USB keys and CD-ROM offer limited storage, present compatibility issues, and introduce important security and data-corruption risks – all of which contribute significantly to your firm’s overhead.

The worst part is… your client has to physically deliver these devices to your office. That said, it comes as no surprise that millennials are more inclined to do business with law firms that make use of technological alternatives to outdated methods when collecting and sharing documents, as per Clio’s 2017 Legal Trends Report.

Here’s the solution

The solution we present is to integrate an efficient way to collect digital documents at your law firm. 

Imagine a tool that enables you to request specific documents and enables your clients to send them in an organized and painless manner, without worrying about size restrictions.

Quick, secure, reliable – and all done online.

Most law firms are not aware that such a solution exists. But in reality, many providers are already offering document collection capabilities.

What does it mean for my clients?

Most document collection solutions are pretty straightforward to use. Although you will be the one using it, your client’s user experience takes priority. Make sure to pick a solution that doesn’t require your client to open an account (everyone hates remembering passwords!).

Is it expensive?

The price of a good document collection solution should be pretty close to that of a file sharing solution. By any measure, these are far cheaper than spending hours dealing with CD-ROMS, USB Keys, and 12-part disorganized emails.

Step 4: get consent with one simple click

Traditional Ink signatures as a means getting consent are – quite literally – fading away. 

Something we owe in large part to companies like DocuSign who have paved the way for e-signature solutions.

Although some documents still need to be signed by hand, more often than not an electronic signature will do the trick.

While electronic signatures have become the new standard in terms of compliance and efficiency, a lot of people will agree that the process is still not optimal.

Most providers still require that the recipient open an account in order to sign via their portals.

Here’s the solution

The solution is to obtain consent with a simple click-to-sign solution. You read that right!

Is it legally valid?

Not many people know that a simple click is as valid as an electronic or traditional ink signature. North American legislation follows a technology-neutral tangent and treats execution by electronic means just as it does ink.

To that end, a signature can be as simple as typing one’s name into an electronic document or entering a PIN in an ATM machine.

The name in an email address is also a valid electronic signature, with the capacity to identify a person. Moreover, clicking “I accept” is considered to be a valid signature, especially when an identifier such as a password, a personal identification number, or even a credit card number accompanies it.

Now that we identified the four methods to reduce overhead and increase billable hours, let us show you how we can help.

How can you get these results?

You have two options:

  1. Subscribe to, and integrate a different solution for each one of the four benefits detailed above.
  2. You can use Lexop, which combines all four of these features under one intuitive platform, and start saving time and money right away.

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