The legal system is highly dependent on meetings. The largest law firms, for example, can have as many as 2,000 lawyers on staff working across 20 global offices and hold over 50,000 meetings in a single year. That’s no small number.
These can be firm-wide meetings, meetings with administrative staff, meetings with senior partners, introductory meetings with clients, meetings to conduct depositions with witnesses, to name a few. In each of these cases, it’s vital that the meetings are scheduled quickly and efficiently so as not to cause unnecessary delays or problems with cases in progress. But if getting the meetings booked into everyone’s calendars is a slow, tedious and complicated process, it could hurt your law firm’s reputation and client retention.
This is where an enterprise-level scheduling technology tool comes into play. It will help streamline operational processes within your law firm, get important meetings in the books faster (and more efficiently), allow your teams to focus on winning cases and retaining high-value clients. All of these benefits will position your law firm to not only survive the current crisis, but also to grow and thrive long after.
Simplify the complexities of meeting with different parties across multiple locations
It takes a village to build and win legal cases. In a medium to large sized law firm, there are probably 30+ people involved in the research, preparation and writing of legal briefs. Once those legal briefs are drafted, you’ll then need to get them reviewed and signed off by the senior partners in your law firm. And of course, you’ll need to gather everyone together before going to court to organize your strategy, assign owners to specific tasks and make sure all contingencies have been thought of in advance. But, I can bet all of these senior partners, lawyers, research assistants, paralegals and administrative staff are not located in the same office. They’re most likely based in different cities, states and even countries – that could mean juggling schedules between 10 different time zones. If I had to describe this scenario in one word, it would be ‘complicated.’
While some might view this as a minor, harmless issue, I beg to differ. Trying to schedule meetings with 30+ stakeholders across 10+ time zones could, in fact, have catastrophic consequences for your law firm. If an important meeting is held up for 30 days simply because you couldn’t get everyone together to make key decisions, your client’s case could be delayed, which could affect their confidence in your ability to manage the case. It could also lead to miscommunication among your internal teams, which could result in poor execution of your legal strategy and eventually lead to a negative outcome in the case.
The fact of the matter is that scheduling is much more than an administrative function in legal meetings. Because meetings are essential to the success of legal cases, I would argue it’s extremely important. But more often than not, it gets in the way of your ability to build and execute your legal strategies for clients. So how can law firms use an online meeting scheduling tool to simplify the complexities of meeting with different parties across multiple locations?
- Create a unique URL, known as Bookable Calendar, where you can permanently display your availability based on connected calendars. Google Calendar, Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook are supported, with an option to add other calendars via ICS feed. This will make it easy and quick to book meetings with your lawyers, paralegals, senior partners and opposing counsel, regardless of what you’re doing.
- Get all of your law firm’s senior partners together every week to review business growth and progress on specific cases by inviting them to a group meeting. Let everyone choose from a selection of meeting days and times (based on availability in each person’s connected calendar). Then watch the votes roll in for the best meeting time and select your final option. What would normally take 30+ emails and could last as long 30 days can now be done in a matter of minutes.
- Set up individual one-to-one meetings with your top clients to gauge their satisfaction, assess the success of your legal strategy and provide ongoing feedback.
Improve communication and transparency with clients
Communication is the name of the game. What you say, how you say it, when you say it and where you say it can make a difference in how the message is received. This is especially true for law firms. Even though you’re a law firm, remember that your clients are not legal experts. So when it comes time to communicate with them, do it frequently and avoid using complicated legal jargon. The easier you make it for your clients to understand your message, the less likely you are to have miscommunication, confusion and frustration. Those are not emotions you want to foster among your clients.
While you’re undoubtedly an expert in all things law, don’t let that get in the way of your ability to listen to your clients. If you’re organizing an online group meeting with 10 stakeholders from one of your top clients, ask everyone to put themselves on mute (unless speaking). Also, allow for and embrace natural pauses and free time so people can jump in with questions, thoughts or feedback.
Less time spent on administrative tasks means more time and focus on clients
Billable hours are the lifeline of law firms. They are the lawyer hours that clients pay for directly. They’re also what law firms spend a great deal of time and energy on measuring and tracking, as they can directly impact your law firm’s bottom line.
Non-billable hours, however, is time that cannot be billed directly to clients. Tasks, such as calendaring, thinking and networking, fall squarely into the category of non-billable hours. This poses a bit of a conundrum for many law firms. Meetings are essential to your success. And you can’t get those meetings on the books without the scheduling process. But the scheduling process falls outside the realm of billable hours. Yet, if the scheduling process is slow, inefficient and overly complicated, it could eat into your billable hours.
Since scheduling isn’t considered worthy of billable hours, but can also directly impact your ability to manage your cases, scheduling can’t simply go on the way it has been. That’s just not a viable solution. It won’t do your law firm or your clients any good. So how can your law firm use scheduling technology to handle all of your scheduling needs, without having to waste time, and put that time and focus towards your clients?
- If your law firm uses Slack as the internal messaging tool for all of your teams, then things are about to get a lot easier for you. Slack recently launched Shortcuts, which gives users built-in, lightning-quick ways to begin common tasks and workflows. You can access and use Doodle Bot in Slack’s shortcuts menu to propose meeting times, select the right participants, choose the best meeting dates/times and put it all to a vote – and you can do it all entirely within Slack.
- Use Doodle Bot’s AI-powered feature, Book it!. This feature offers smart suggestions for the best meeting times based on availability in everyone’s calendars and lets you book the meeting directly from Slack. Just make sure your calendar is already connected to Doodle and your Doodle account is connected to your Slack workspace.
- Given how rare it is for all parties to be located in the same place, your law firm is likely a frequent user of Zoom for online meetings. Of course, one of the most common mistakes in online meetings is to be minutes away from the start of the meeting, only to realize the Zoom link is missing. This has certainly happened to me on more than one occasion. This often results in meetings starting late and even no-shows. But there’s a fix to this problem with Doodle. You can connect your Zoom account to your Doodle account so you won’t have to worry about forgetting to copy and paste your Zoom meeting link into your calendar invite.
These may seem like small and inconsequential steps to take, but I assure you they aren’t. Each of these recommendations can result in a considerable amount of time saved. And as we found in our recent State of Meetings report, 26 percent of professionals said poorly organized meetings impacted their client relationships, while 44 percent feel it impacts their ability to actually do their work.
The less time your law firm spends on non-billable tasks, such as scheduling, the more time you can dedicate to building a strong case for your clients and, ultimately, wow your clients with your work ethic and performance. That will hopefully keep clients coming back to your law firm for additional work and establishing a trusting relationship that will contribute to bottom-line growth.
To learn more about how a scheduling technology platform can streamline your law firm’s operations and improve your client success, download our white paper, “The Comprehensive Guide to Scheduling Technology Platforms.”