So you’ve just decided to transition into your solo journey. You’ve set up the home office, created your LLC, have the engagements nailed down, and coordinated your ideal work-life schedule. You’ve got it all figured out. Well, except that one thing. All the backend software you’ll need to keep your business running smoothly. Here’s a handy guide that breaks down the types of software you should consider when launching your digital firm, and how to implement them.
Legal software comes in three different categories. There’s accounting (business/trust accounting, financial reporting), document management (document storage, email management, contract implementation), and practice management (time, billing, calendaring). A large firm will likely need to invest into a full-stack of software to run their operations. For a solo practitioner, that’s seldom the case. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't consider investing into some lower-tier operating systems to optimize your workflows.
Take a look at your daily operations, and pay close attention to the ones that are eating up your time. Are you spending hours on accounting? Feeling overwhelmed with document implementation? Consider if there’s a way to aid efficiency. And if so, where at. If you can pinpoint the particulars, it’s a sign you’re due for an upgrade. After all, you want to make sure that your efforts are focused on the areas you know best (and the ones that pay your salary)- legal.
Let’s take a deeper look at each.
Manual accounting is time consuming, and subject to human error. Don’t underestimate how tricky this part of the process can be. You want to ensure that your numbers are reported correctly, so you’ll have a foolproof tax season (freelance goals!). What’s more, the right accounting software can help you make data-driven decisions that give you the insights you need to make the big business decisions.
At minimum, the software you choose should include bookkeeping, time-tracking, trust-accounting, billing, and payments. Make sure there are enhanced security features to protect client, and business data. And, of course, make sure it’s backed by the cloud (you don’t want to lose critical data).
Here’s some of the options that our talent network recommend:
- Stripe: Helps you streamline invoices, by allowing you to accept payments, send payouts, manage business spend, and even provides access to financing.
- Square: Provides access to secure digital payments from anything to small businesses to large corporations with the flexibility to scale up your package at any time.
- Clio Suite: As the only end-to-end software solution for law firms, Clio was designed specifically with legal in mind. They help you standardize your firm’s processes, automate tasks, and have a pretty handy billing package that streamlines payment- with a suite of financial reporting to support.
Go ahead and take advantage of demos and free trial periods to test them out. Just note, your accounting software should integrate seamlessly with the existing workflows you currently use- it shouldn’t add more work to your already overflowing plate!
If you’re going out on your own, you’ll definitely be dealing with contracts at some point or another. While they can be a bit costly, they offer countless upsides. You don’t want to have to go through the same, lengthy process every time you need to send one. Contracting software can streamline your workflow by handling both creating, and managing contracts.
Look for a user-friendly platform that can seamlessly automate communication flow, and that includes a process for systematizing roles and responsibilities. It’ll more than double execution time, and you’ll be able to share the document without the burden of constant emailing.
Make sure it’s compatible with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and electronic signature. Clients need to be able to quickly review agreements, issue approvals, or request additional details without getting caught in virtual roadblocks.
Here are some of the industry leaders:
- Ironclad: While the name Alex Su may initially come to mind, they’ve set the bar high for contracting software. Their fully integrated platform helps you avoid bottlenecks with built-in features of redlining, editing, and audit logging.
- Docusign: As the most widely used electronic signature, you can’t go wrong with docusign. Sign documents anywhere, from any device. Plus, it’s more secure than paper.
Ask yourself if the software will be compatible with the needs of your business, and the clients you’ll be working with. If you handle specific matters that require customization, make sure you choose a tech stack that’ll suit those needs.
When going solo, practice management can be the hardest part. Existing software is expensive, and you may be unsure of your future needs. Lawtrades provides a fully automated (and free!) practice management tool that allows you to launch your virtual firm in a matter of minutes.
When you launch your practice on Lawtrades, you have access to our amazing network of clients (Such as Doordash, Pinterest, Udemy…& more), and a peer-community of like minded legal pros. We provide timekeeping software, and have a built-in invoicing program so you can spend your time focusing on those billable hours. And, legal professionals working over 30 hours have access to paid time off, medical, dental, and vision coverage- and a 401k.
Stepping out and taking charge of your career can be a whirlwind, but so worthwhile. Make the transition as smooth as possible by flushing out the unknowns and building out your business to thrive in the ever-increasing digital world. By investing in a full-stack of software, you’ll ensure it’s built on stable ground.