Utilizing a client portal software for your law firm can help improve internal workflows and provide a better client experience overall. When looking at new technological trends and shifting client expectations in the legal field, it’s easy to argue that if your firm is not already using some kind of client portal software, it likely will be in the near future.
As the legal industry becomes more digitized, old methods of interacting with clients are being replaced by simpler, faster, and more secure systems. This transformation has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as attorneys and their clients are currently less willing to meet in person and handle physical documents. Now more than ever, law firms rely on digital technologies to chat with clients, share files, manage data, and so on.
Client portal software enables attorneys to communicate and collaborate with clients on a secure online platform. Once the client has created an account, they can log onto the platform to engage in case-related activities, such as viewing documents, sending messages to attorneys, and locating previous discussion threads.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything an enterprise law firm needs to know about client portal software, from its specific benefits to how it can be implemented. So if your firm is contemplating adopting a client portal, keep reading!
BENEFITS OF CLIENT PORTAL SOFTWARE FOR LAW FIRMS
Client portal software provides law firms with more speed, flexibility, and security than traditional systems. Manual tasks like organizing files in cabinets and mailing case documents to clients can now be digitized and streamlined with a client portal. So if you’re among the 75% of lawyers who commonly work outside of regular business hours, you’ll love what this tool has to offer. Here are some of the specific benefits to consider:
By assigning, modifying, and overseeing tasks on a centralized platform, you can get casework done more efficiently. Let’s say you need a client to review an agreement, sign a document, or pay a bill. In the client portal, you can simply assign these tasks directly to the client and track their progress. This allows you to keep things moving in an organized manner, without having to frequently bother your clients with phone calls and emails (and vice versa).
FAST AND EASY COMMUNICATION
With client portal software, you won’t need to schedule as many in-person or over-the-phone meetings. Rather, all attorney-client communication can happen right on the platform. So when a client is trying to get a hold of you, they won’t have to go through the irritating process of calling your office, leaving a message with your secretary, and waiting for a callback. They can simply send you a message via the portal, which triggers a notification on your end. This streamlined system of communication will foster improved responsiveness and happier clients.
Clients trust their attorneys with all kinds of sensitive information, from personal details to credit card numbers. Is your firm doing everything possible to protect that information? According to a recent study by the American Bar Association, 26% of law firms have fallen victim to some form of a cyber attack. These data breaches can result in the leaking of private knowledge, stolen identities, and ultimately, very upset clients. Portal software encrypts everything shared between you and your clients—so information in case files, invoices, and other documents cannot be captured by hackers.
CONVENIENT ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Client portals offer on-demand access to relevant documents, which clients can review, edit, and provide feedback on in real-time. All they need is a computer desktop or mobile device with an internet connection. With the ability to log on 24 hours a day 7 days a week, clients are less likely to call or text you at 2:00 AM on a Sunday with requests.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT A CLIENT PORTAL
Once you’ve decided to adopt client portal software for your law firm, the next step is picking the right platform, then getting your staff and clients on board. Many factors will go into setting up your portal, including your budget, the size of your law firm, the number of clients you have, your current system for sharing files with clients, etc.
To ensure a smooth and effective digital transformation, you can hire an experienced web development agency like Codal to lead the mission.
Now, let’s dive into the three basic steps for implementing a client portal:
CHOOSE A PLATFORM
Many law practice management software services include a client portal. But which one is right for your firm? As you review various options, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Define which features and capabilities are most important to your firm
- Take advantage of any free demos or software trials
- Test the portal’s communication features to ensure it’ll be intuitive for your clients
- Ask the provider about the platform’s security features
- Make sure the portal allows you to send invoices and receive payments
If you’re not sure where to start in terms of shopping for a platform, here are the top client portal software providers on the market today:
Implementing a client portal will certainly impact your firm’s case management processes and workflows. It’s important to keep your employees, partners, associates, and anyone else who will be using the software in the loop as these changes are made.
You’ll need to define all your new processes, and document them so they can be referenced later. Collaborate with your team to delegate different responsibilities and come up with the most efficient system possible. Who will be in charge of assigning tasks to clients? What if a client doesn’t complete a task and stops responding to messages? Who will manage case documents, invoices, etc?
Once you’ve got all your new processes ironed out and documented, it’s time to create a launch plan. Hire someone to oversee this transition and the necessary training of employees. It’s important that staff members know exactly how their day-to-day will change and are given the opportunity to ask questions.
If your clients are not willing or prepared to use the portal, you could end up losing business. Make sure your clients know why this switch is happening, when the new processes will be put in place, and how to use the portal. Like you do with your staff, provide basic training to ensure your clients are using the platform correctly.
Inevitably, you’ll run into some problems during this transition. For example, certain clients might prefer to continue communicating over the phone or receiving their bills via snail mail. Be prepared to handle these situations as they arise with a workaround that keeps the client happy.
Client portal software allows your law firm to replace outdated methods with faster, simpler, and more secure processes. You can communicate and share documents digitally, complete tasks more efficiently, and safely manage sensitive client data—all on one platform. By utilizing this technology to improve your overall client experience, you can maintain a competitive advantage over your competitors, retain more clients, and increase revenue.
Choosing the most optimal client portal software and successfully implementing it into your firm can be a long and complicated process, as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s where Codal comes in. We’re a web development and design agency with over a decade of experience working with enterprise law firms. Our passion is learning how organizations function from the inside out, then employing cutting-edge technology to implement systems that enable and support growth.
Interested in learning more about utilizing client portal software for your law firm? Reach out to Codal today!