When you envision a lawyer at work, what comes to mind?
If you picture a fancy suit-and-tie culture, long days at the firm, and piles upon piles of paperwork, you’re probably not too far off. Specifically, the paper part. The legal profession, after all, was built and still largely exists on a paper-based system.
According to Jordan Couch, an attorney at Palace Law, a firm focusing on personal injury and workers’ compensation, law is also a field built with an emphasis on the people practicing the profession, rather than those being served by it.
“It’s an industry that—in some ways—counters the best interests of the client,” Jordan says. “Consider the billable hour model. The client’s success is your hindrance, because the faster and more efficient you work, the less you make. That’s problematic for the client.”
In law school, Jordan was inspired by his professors to consider new and different ways to practice law. When he graduated, he sought out a like-minded firm. His search led him to Patrick Palace, founder of Palace Law. Both believed the profession needed to better serve clients without charging more. “We wanted to deliver better service to more people, more efficiently,” Jordan says. “That aspiration was the basis for all the changes we’ve made and continue to make today.”
Palace Law decided the way to achieve its goal of better serving clients was to create and implement a digital system replacing the paper-based structure at the heart of many legal professionals’ workdays.
The result? Happier clients, a more productive team, and a loud applause from Mother Nature.
The Digital Journey To Trello
When Palace Law first began its digital transformation, the practice focused on two key challenges.
- Make attorneys available to clients outside of the office
- Help attorneys access their case assignments and tasks in a digital environment
To solve the first challenge, the firm had to find a way to make all the documents scattered across desks and on shelves accessible from anywhere. Palace Law adopted Clio Legal Trends Report as its cloud-based practice management system, which became the firm’s digital file room. Every communication and file was recorded and stored there.
The solution to the second challenge came in the form of everyone’s favorite digital tool (do we even have to say it?). Palace Law adopted Trello, and through Zapier, was integrated with Clio—giving the staff at Palace Law access to the information they needed for a variety of processes. They also chose Trello because of its ability to integrate with the two main tools their team uses: Slack and Google Drive.
Summoning Freedom From The Firm With On-The-Go Tools
Once this paperless toolbox was in place, the firm reviewed each of its workflows and updated them for the new digital system. For example, in the old system, someone would physically carry a stack of case folders to an attorney and heap them on their desk. The pile of folders amounted to the attorney’s workload and anchored them to the office. Without them, their work couldn’t be completed.
Trello has completely transformed this operational structure (and saved the team from unnecessary back pain). With the Client Workflow Management board, attorneys can easily see which clients are in the process of being onboarded, when they’ve been assigned to an attorney, and where the client belongs in the workflow.
Instead of dusty folders, cases are represented by a Trello card. Those cards are assigned to attorneys’ Trello boards, and attorneys use Trello features to prioritize their work. In the old model, an attorney manually marked (yes, with a... marker 🙈) a case folder indicating when it needed to be reviewed again. Now, they receive a reminder in Trello that it’s time to revisit a case.
The board comes with a template card, intended to be duplicated each time a new client is being onboarded. Within the card, attorneys can add the company’s name, contact information, a description of the case, attach documents, and notate missing items.
Palace Law digitized its mail and client communication workflow as well as its client intake process, and even manages cases in litigation with the help of Trello.
This change has allowed attorneys to work at home or have their resources handy when meeting with a client offsite, which has reduced stress and ensured a better work-life balance. For example, Jordan uses the Trello mobile app to check his mail and review deadlines.
Using Trello To Save Money, Headaches, And Paper
Today, the team at Palace Law is confident about its digital system, but going paperless was intimidating. “When we started, very few firms were doing it, which made it a little scary,” Jordan says. “There was no proven model for it.”
Luckily, the system has yielded some remarkable results. In 2017, Palace Law met its revenue goals by the end of the Q3—a 76% increase from the prior year in just nine months. The firm has also earned an impressive Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 70. According to the Clio Legal Trends Report, the nationwide average NPS for law firms is 25.
As an added bonus, the transformation has also affected the way people feel about their work.
“People have generally been happier since we started using Trello. It has made our lives a lot easier. People are less stressed. Having a lot of paperwork on your desk is hard to keep track of. Looking at Trello cards with labels and due dates has reduced our stress and made it easier to identify the important priorities in our workflows.” says Jordan.
The firm has dramatically reduced how much paper it uses, too. On average, they’re saving 200 sheets of paper a day. For fellow non-paper users, that’s almost an inch-thick stack, equating to 8 trees every year.
Is your team bound to the confines of the office? Are the piles of paper on your desk starting to resemble a life-sized leaning tower of Pisa?
Use the Client Management Workflow board to get work done from anywhere while saving time, money, frustration, and surely many, many paper cuts.
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