One of the most challenging aspects of running a law firm is making the most of your time. This is because managing a law practice isn’t easy. Your to-do list can quickly become overwhelming when you’re in charge of both practicing law and running your law firm.
That’s where streamlined law firm processes come in. If you reduce redundancies, your law firm will run more smoothly and efficiently. One of the best ways to increase your productivity? By choosing the right software tools to run your law firm.
Of course, every law firm is different. The productivity needs of lawyers vary by practice area. Practice area demands drive workflows and processes, and as a result, even lawyers using the same software will use it differently depending on the type of law they practice.
The Benchmark Report
Benchmark data recently obtained from the MyCase law practice management platform supports this premise. The data was anonymized and then analyzed to understand how different legal professionals working in various practice areas used the features available to them.
The goal is to ascertain which features have the most significant impact on lawyers’ day-to-day activities and learn more about how lawyers from different practice areas get work done. To gain those insights, we compared the practice areas, with a focus on the most considerable variances in how productivity features were used.
The end result is the 2022 MyCase Benchmark Report, which will be a three-part series. In Part 1, we analyzed productivity data to determine how work gets done in firms and by whom. Parts 2 and 3 will offer insights from the financial and lead generation data.
Part 1 was released this month and provides lots of interesting insight into how lawyers get work done in their firms. It includes benchmark data that lawyers can use to compare their firm’s efficiency to other similarly situated firms and ultimately make better business decisions. Below, I highlight some of the most notable findings.
Capturing More Time
First, let’s look at the data related to time tracking. For lawyers who bill by the hour, accurate time tracking is the key to profitability. Among other things, we examined how lawyers track time and which features increased the amount of time captured. The most notable learning was how much of a difference passive time tracking tools can make to a firm’s bottom line.
Passive time-tracking tools work in the background and capture a lawyer’s work while using a software program. The data from the report shows how valuable this functionality can be for law firms.
Notably, 25% of the legal professionals who use Smart Time Finder recorded an additional 186,214 billable hours in 2021, which is 25 hours of extra billable time per person. Assuming a $350 per hour billing rate means billable time worth $65,174,900 was captured overall using this feature, which amounts to an additional $8,600 invoiced per lawyer.
Other interesting data from the report highlights how different the workflows of different practice areas can be. There are particularly notable contrasts between litigation and transactional practices, especially when the practice areas with the most significant variances in their use of productivity features are analyzed.
For example, consider the difference in the average number of text messages sent from the MyCase platform per case in the following practice areas:
- Family Law — 20
- Criminal Law — 20
- Real Estate — 15
- Trust and Estate — 9
There is a similar trend with secure client portal messages sent per case:
- Matrimonial — 23
- Family Law — 19
- Trust and Estate — 10
- Real Estate — 8
As you can see, the number of communications sent varied across practice areas, with some clients requiring higher levels of interaction.
There were similar trends found with collaboration data. Fewer documents were created and shared in transactional practices, whereas matrimonial and family law legal professionals created documents and collaborated on them more often with clients.
Here’s the data on the average number of documents created per case:
- Family Law — 31
- Matrimonial — 27
- Personal Injury — 21
- Criminal Law — 13
- Traffic — 6
Next, the number of documents shared per case:
- Matrimonial — 24
- Family Law — 20
- Employment — 18
- Trust and Estate — 9
- Real Estate — 7
How Does Your Firm Compare?
Now that you have a better sense of how other law firms are getting work done, take a look at how your firm is operating and try to understand better where inefficiencies lie. Determine how the tools your firm has in place are affecting productivity, for better or for worse.
Consider how your firm’s day-to-day practices compare with the data shared in this report. How streamlined are your firm’s processes? Are you communicating and collaborating with clients as often as other firms are?
This benchmark analysis is helpful since the more you understand how the technology you choose is used in your firm, the better your firm will run. By increasing your firm’s efficiency and productivity, you provide a more streamlined and frictionless experience for everyone in your firm and your clients.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business and Community Relations at MyCase, web-based law practice management software. She’s been blogging since 2005, has written a weekly column for the Daily Record since 2007, is the author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York. She’s easily distracted by the potential of bright and shiny tech gadgets, along with good food and wine. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.