By Jared Correia, IndyBar Law Practice Management Consultant, Red Cave Law Firm Consulting
Adding new software to a law firm is often a challenge, but the reward is great. The issue is that most law firms stumble out of the starting blocks and then squander any gains that they may have had. One way law firms screw this up is to spend too little time vetting software, so that they’re surprised by what they view as limitations during the implementation process, which may be actual limitations, or just undiscovered existing features of which the law firm is not aware because they did not utilize a thorough vetting procedure. Another way that law firms screw this up is by focusing too much on the implementation procedure with skewed expectations with respect to speed of adoption – many lawyer-owners feel that a software should work perfectly within their environment right away; but that’s the wrong expectation. It takes time to adapt software for your office. Don’t even get me started on staff training for software: law firms just don’t do that.
But there is one thing law firms can do to better utilize the software implementation period, reduce exasperation over features and better align expectations to the launch process. Most law firms will just add software and push it out to users and clients right away, and if there’s an old software that’s being replaced, they unplug it at the same time. The operating principle here is that the new software will be a perfect replacement for the old software and that there will be nary an issue in moving ahead. Yet, according to Murphy’s Law, there are always issues.
The best way forward in implementing new software is to first test it out in a sandbox environment before launching it in full. That’s true whether you’re a solo, small firm attorney or large law firm owner. So, create a “sandbox” with certain restrictions: Use dummy data, or data from a small number of clients or matters, to start with. Limit the number of users within the law firm. Then, see what happens. That will surface the errors and issues you can fix before you start using the product across your entire staff, and with your full client base.
Want to learn how to play in the sandbox? We can help. The IndyBar offers FREE law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting. To request a consult, visit the Indy Bar law practice management consulting landing page at indybar.org/lpm and start running your law firm like a business.•