OCR - convert pdf to text with Casedo

Convert PDF to text on the fly with OCR

Right now, new technology is making it easier for lawyers to work with digitised documents. Most lawyers are familiar with pdfs: the standard file format for storing scanned documents, as well as for exchanging them with other parties. On the flip side, if you have ever tried to edit, copy or search through text in such a file, you’ll know just how frustrating pdfs can be to work with.

 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology changes all of this. Designed with lawyers in mind, Casedo’s OCR feature enables you to convert pdf to text on the flay and so makes unreadable pdfs readable, allowing you to manipulate, search and extract text, just like you would with a Word document.

Here’s a closer look at how OCR works, and why this can mean a welcome boost in productivity and reduction in stress levels for lawyers, paralegals and support staff alike.

 

What’s the problem with scanned pdfs for lawyers?

There are good reasons why pdfs (portable document files) are used frequently within law firms. Originally developed more than two decades ago by Adobe, this file format lets you easily convert both electronic and paper documents into accurate digital versions of the original. Pdf documents are easy to share and to view, thanks to Adobe’s free-to-use Reader plugin. The files themselves are also relatively small, which makes it easier to send via email, and also makes it possible to store vast volumes of scanned documents on the firm’s hard drive.


Scanning and converting a document into a pdf creates an electronic image of the original. The file is non-editable, which can be useful from a security perspective when you need to show that a document is a true copy of the original. However, this characteristic also stops you from annotating, copying, searching through and extracting the text: bad news when you need to work on the document.

 

What does OCR software do?

Optical Character Recognition software changes the way your device processes pdf files. By converting pdf to text it enables the device to actually read the text, rather than treating it as an image.

For you, this means the document is transformed into an editable, machine-readable format.



How can I put OCR software to work?

Here are some of the many situations where OCR can prove especially valuable in law firms and chambers:


Post-disclosure investigation

As part of the disclosure and inspection process, you receive a large volume of the other party’s scanned bank statements in pdf format. As part of your investigations, you want to isolate all transactions relating to a particular payee. Rather than printing out the statements and examining them line-by-line with a highlighter, an OCR feature lets you do a text search for the payee and identify all relevant entries in an instant.


Expert evidence

Attached to the likes of medical and engineering reports, experts will often attach reference documents, such as research reports and articles from academic journals. These documents can often be dense in nature. Nevertheless, it is generally important to give them consideration for anything that might be especially relevant to the actual expert report and to your client’s case as a whole.

Once you convert PDF to text, OCR allows you to search for the segments of these documents that are likely to be most relevant. It also allows you to easily copy sections and paste them into opinions, correspondence and pleadings.

 

Research

One of the barristers’ chambers you frequently instruct has prepared a handy guide to tax law changes and has sent you a scanned version in pdf format. Some of the contents are directly relevant to a number of your cases. OCR enables you to annotate the document and extract useful sections and charts so you can add them to your casenote file on your case management system.



What are the benefits of OCR for lawyers?

Why should I use this feature to convert PDF to text? OCR can help you in the following ways:


Speed


By effectively ‘unlocking’ scanned documents, OCR removes the (frustrating!) requirement of having to retype sections of text contained in scanned documents.

For many of the scanned files lawyers deal, only certain sections of them are specifically relevant to the litigation in hand. As we explored in our article, How lawyers can reduce stress at work with legal tech, as much as 20% of a working day can be wasted in searching for the information you need to get the job done.(1) Trying to identify the relevant parts of huge files can be a big part of this. By letting you search for and then highlight specific areas, you can cut out a lot of this waste.

 

Accuracy

This can be especially relevant when you have large volumes of financial records to analyse. When assessing text manually, even the most experienced lawyer can miss something important. With OCR enabled, you can use the search function in full knowledge that nothing relevant will be missed.

 

Profitability

OCR makes it quicker to work with scanned documents, freeing up your time to devote to more valuable activities such as wider case strategy and building stronger client relationships. What’s more, because it creates less scope for error, there is often greater scope for delegating tasks such as document checking to more junior staff.

 

How to use Casedo software to convert PDF to text

With Casedo, you can now make unreadable scanned documents readable by following these simple steps:

  • Import the scanned document into the Casedo workspace
  • Right-click the imported file and select ‘Recognise text’
  • The software will then process the text (this can take a minute or two, depending on the size of your pdf)
  • Once the OCR feature has processed the text, you can search and edit it as you would a standard text document.

If you have one or more scanned documents and you want to search for specific words, you can simply import them all into Casedo, apply the OCR feature and search them together or individually. Request a Free Casedo 30 Day Trial today, and how easy it is for yourself.

 

References

  1. Noi, D. (2018). Do workers still waste time searching for information?. [online] Blog.xenit.eu. Available at: https://xenit.eu/do-workers-still-waste-time-searching-for-information/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2022].

 

UPDATED: 2022.11.11


7 Productivity tips

7 productivity tips for lawyers to improve efficiency

From the constant flow of queries, through to the client who telephones you with suggested changes to a court document just hours before it is due to be filed, life in a law firm can be anything but dull. But with such a demanding role many professionals are looking for ways to work better.

 

While it can be stimulating to have lots of things going on at once, getting through it all efficiently can be a major challenge. If you frequently feel like you are getting nowhere fast with your caseload, it’s definitely worth putting scrutinising your workplace productivity. Here, we explain how focusing on productivity tips for lawyers that can help you to increase efficiency and ultimately improve your performance. We also outline seven workable improvements to adopt to help you boost productivity and reach your full potential.

 

Reasons for lawyers to improve productivity

When lawyers implement smarter ways to increase their productivity, everyone can benefit. This includes clients, the firm as a whole and, of course, the individual lawyers themselves.

 

Greater efficiency means increased profitability

This is especially the case with fixed-fee work. The nature of this charging model means that regardless of whether the task in hand takes half an hour or half a day, the amount you can bill for it remains the same.

Increasing productivity makes it possible to get through your workload more efficiently. This increases your capacity, enabling you to handle a greater volume of files — and ultimately boost your billing figures.

Increased efficiency can mean fewer errors

Missed limitation dates and other important deadlines are among the most common causes of lawyer negligence. Other causes of complaint include rushed, poorly drafted documents, failing to identify key issues (defective title in a lease, for instance) and failure to provide proper advice to clients.

There is much greater scope for error if you are snowed under with work; especially if you are constantly switching between files. Implementing ways to operate more efficiently and productively allows sufficient time to consider the major issues linked to individual files in more detail. This helps reduce the chances of important points being overlooked.

More time for clients

Streamlining routine tasks can give you more time for what’s really important; especially when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with clients. Instead of trying to subtly usher clients out of the door, productive working practices can mean more time to devote to consultations. This might even include spotting opportunities for cross-selling additional services from across the firm.

 

7 Productivity Tips for Lawyers

1. Consider revising your office layout

Does your trainee solicitor have to trek down the corridor to see you each time they want to check something? Are your commercial leasing and property litigation departments at opposite ends of the building — even though they frequently work closely together?

 

7-productivity-tips-for-lawyers

Consider carefully whether your existing office layout helps with productivity or if it is actually a barrier to efficient working. If you have teams of lawyers, paralegals and assistants all working together on the same matter (on class actions, for example), an open plan office might make for more efficient working. For instance, when GlaxoSmithKline made the switch from assigned offices to open plan spaces, decision making processes were sped up by 25%.(1) Open plan won’t be suitable for every law firm, but it might be something to think about. If you’re in private practice or a smaller law firm, one small change you can make to could be to consider natural lighting. Studies have shown that natural light has a positive impact on work performance. So something as simple as moving your desk near a window could increase your productivity.(2)

 

2. Split complex tasks into more manageable chunks

Let’s say you have a long, complex job that you are not looking forward to tackling. Especially with a large caseload, procrastination becomes far too easy. It’s always possible to find excuses to put off the big, tricky job in hand.

To become more productive and to break the ‘force field’ that can develop around difficult files, you first need to find the right motivation. Psychologists refer to it as Goal-Setting Theory: the concept of splitting tasks up into specific goals.(3) A series of bite-size tasks tend to be much easier to approach than a wide-ranging project. As such, greater use of mini-milestones could be just what’s needed to improve your workflow.

3. Draw up a Kanban Board

Having a physical visualisation of your caseload workflow displayed prominently in the office can make it much easier to identify and then address the type of bottlenecks that can affect productivity. Examples might be gaps between reaching an impasse in pre-action negotiations and actually drafting proceedings, or undue delays in getting fee agreements or expert reports through.

All you need for this is a whiteboard, marker and post-it notes. Draw up columns for each main stage of case progression. Write the name of each case on a post-it note. As cases progress, move the post-it notes into the relevant columns. If too many are getting stuck in certain columns, these are the areas to focus on.

4. Establish set times for responding to communications

Productivity can suffer if you have to keep breaking off tasks to deal with incoming communications. That’s why, for both emails and routine telephone calls, it’s a good idea to set aside several blocks of about 30 minutes each to respond to messages.

You should find that it’s a lot more efficient to respond to these messages in batches rather than sporadically. Also, if you spread these blocks of time throughout the day, it still means that you are responding promptly to incoming communications.

5. Manage your templates

From client care letters and contracts right through to pleadings, document templates are a must for any lawyer who wants to boost their productivity and increase efficiency.

Templates save you time by removing the need to re-enter the same text into multiple documents, reduce the scope for error on matters that demand standard wording, while still providing you with the flexibility to tailor the document to your client’s specific circumstances.

Sometimes though, there can be so many templates in play within a law firm, searching for the right one can be something of a barrier to productivity in itself. To increase efficiency, make sure your templates are centrally stored, logically organised and named, and that out-of-date versions are removed. This helps ensure less time wasted on searching for documents — meaning more time on putting them to work.

6. Use digital case management

With a case management system, all your client information is kept on a single database. Most of these systems also feature automated document generation, helping you to reduce the time spent on routine caseload legwork, potentially freeing up time for more profitable tasks. You can read more about the benefits of this type of technology in our guide: How digital management systems improve efficiency.

7. Use organisational tools

Ever get that feeling that you are drowning in paperwork? Especially when there’s a large bundle to contend with, half the battle of improved productivity involves finding a way to become better organised.

This is where Casedo can be especially valuable. With it, you can digitise all the documents linked to case into a single manageable file. From here, you can highlight and annotate your documents, or bookmark and create links between relevant pieces of information for ease of access, allowing you to form an overall view of your case. By unifying the elements that make up your case into a single workspace, Casedo saves you time and energy and allows you to focus on legal research, analysis and practice.

Reducing the amount of time it takes to do specific tasks will leave you more time to focus on your legal research and analysis — ultimately improving your output. Plus, managing your workload more efficiently can also help your stress levels, allowing you to be a better lawyer, and protect your health.


To find more information on how you can boost your productivity, as well as other problems affecting the industry, read the articles in our Insights section.

 

References

  1. Silverman, R. and Sidel, R. (2012). Warming Up to the Officeless Office.. [online] The Wall Street Journal. Available at:https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577349783161465976 [Accessed 7 June 2023].
  2. Meister, J. (2018). The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light“>https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light [Accessed 7 June 2023].
  3. Tocino-Smith, J. (2019). What is Locke’s Goal Setting Theory of Motivation? (Incl. Examples). [online] PositivePsychology.com. Available at: https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-theory/ [Accessed 7 June 2023].

 

UPDATED: 2022.11.08


Paper Overload

What’s stopping you from being a better lawyer?

In the lawyer’s ideal world, monthly billing and work-in-progress targets are always on track, deadlines are never missed, while senior partners and clients alike are singing your praises. And to top it all off, you even have time to enjoy life outside of the office. What's stopping you from being a better lawyer?

 

But as we all know, life at the legal coalface can feel very different. Competing priorities, a frantic workplace culture, that nagging feeling of getting nowhere fast with your caseload: too often, these can all combine to stop you working as effectively as you would like. So what exactly is stopping you reaching your full potential and being the better lawyer you know you can be? To help you change your working practices for the better, here are some of the key areas legal professionals should focus on.

 

Wellbeing: dealing with work stress

The ideal legal workplace should be a place where you thrive — not merely survive. But despite the initiatives over recent years to tackle issues surrounding wellbeing across the legal profession, it remains a problem for many. One recent poll of UK workers suggested that lawyers are the second most stressed professionals in the country. (1)

Impossible targets, an ever-expanding caseload, insufficient support from management, unrealistic client demands, a culture of long hours and internal competitiveness: these are some of the most common causes of work stress for lawyers.

If any of these sound familiar, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. And of course, tackling the causes of stress early can prevent them from getting out of control. Organisations such as Lawcare and Wellbeing at the Bar are also very useful sources of information and support.


Collaboration

“This is my client. These are my files.”

Collaboration, historically, has been resisted in the legal profession. Because of the nature of caseload management and client relationships, it’s almost inevitable that you will develop a strong sense of ownership over your work. But sometimes, this sense of ownership can go too far: especially when lawyers mistakenly believe that seeking additional input is a sign of weakness. Being a better lawyer does not mean not working with others.

A strong work culture encourages collaboration; something that’s as true of the legal profession as anywhere else. When a crisis arises, this attitude encourages everyone to pitch in to help resolve it as effectively and efficiently as possible. More generally, a fresh perspective can sometimes be what’s needed to move a case along. One of your colleagues down the corridor might just have the precedent you are missing — or the name of exactly the right expert witness your case needs.

There are a number of ways to enable collaboration within a firm or chambers. It could be as simple as actively encouraging an open door policy. Alternatively, you might want to introduce a more structured mechanism for collaboration. For instance, round-table meetings once or twice a week, where fee earners are encouraged to talk through their problem cases and share ideas, or introducing collaboration software so that working together on cases is made simpler. This group-focused approach can enable you to resolve problems more efficiently, thereby boosting productivity.


Time management

You have a particularly tricky statement to draft. To get it right, you fully intend to devote a big chunk of your afternoon to the task. But then things start to go slightly awry: the attachments you need are scattered across various folders — so everything looks set to take longer than you anticipated. Next comes a flurry of urgent-sounding notifications in the corner of your screen that you feel the need to read and respond to. Finally, a longstanding client scheduled to see you tomorrow morning telephones. They want to see whether you could possibly fit them in later today instead.

whats-stopping-you-from-being-a-better-lawyer
We all have days when what you actually achieve looks very different to what you expected. If it happens frequently, this absence of adequate time management can seriously impair your productivity.

Breaking off from one matter to another, and then going back again, can be incredibly inefficient. This is especially true where the tasks involved are relatively complex and require a certain amount of recapping each time you open the file. In fact, research indicates that it takes an average of 23 minutes to resume work after being interrupted by an unrelated task.(2) It can also so easily increase the scope for procrastination. After all, with a busy caseload, there is always something to conveniently divert you from a difficult or unpleasant task — but only if you allow it to.

Effective time management demands prioritisation, along with setting realistic estimates for how long individual tasks will take. Set yourself a daily task list; one that allows a certain leeway for unforeseen events – and make sure you stick to it. Always remember: to retain control of your caseload, the starting point involves gaining control of your diary.

Read more: 7 productivity tips for lawyers to improve efficiency


Automation and technology: resistance to change

Thanks to developments such as digital case management and e-filing, the legal profession has gone some way in shedding its traditional, rather anti-tech image. That said, firms and individual lawyers can still harbour resistance to change, potentially stopping them from reaching their full potential. Not least because, when dealing with sensitive information, some technology could leave you at risk of a cyber-attack.

But what practical bottlenecks are you still struggling with? Could technology offer you a way to solve them? As one notable example, it’s so easy to waste time on searching for and sifting through scattered documents, instead of actually reviewing them. A digitisation solution could be just what’s needed to free up your time for more valuable (and billable) tasks, that will lead to you being a better lawyer.

For further advice on the risks currently encountered in the legal sector, along with hints and tips on improving your business processes, be sure to explore our Insights Hub.

 

References

  1. Walters, M. (2019). Lawyers are second most stressed professionals, research claims. [online] Law Gazette. Available at: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/lawyers-are-second-most-stressed-professionals-research-claims/5069915.article
  2. Pattison, K. (2008). Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching. [online] Fast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/944128/worker-interrupted-cost-task-switching

 

UPDATED: 2022.11.08


Academic Research

How I Approach Academic Research & Tools and Tricks That Help Me

When I conduct academic research, I’m moving through four distinct phases. In the first phase, I gather. At this stage, it’s too early for me to be selective. Rather, it’s time to search the right databases and download PDFs of anything that seems useful. “Does this look germane? Great! Let’s put it in the basket.”

 

Setting Up for Success: File-Naming Conventions

When I’m pulling down a PDF, sometimes I’ll add something helpful to the beginning of the file name. For example, if a journal article looks like it’s mostly providing background information, I’ll add “BG.” Or, if the article seems to primarily discuss a case study, I’ll add “CS.” I try not to overthink these tags. (By the way, I also use some of the helpful naming tips shared here.) When I’m in full-blown gather mode, I also reach for Zotero, free software that helps me keep track of (1) what I’ve pulled down and (2) citations/references.

 

Sorting Research and Organizing the Initial Readthrough

After the gather phase, it’s time to sort. I tend to group my PDFs and then order them in the sequence I plan to read through them. Sometimes, I’ll use folders to separate content—sometimes just so I don’t see the size of the stack!

 

Mapping My Mind: Notes, Highlights, and Beyond

Next, it’s time to dissect. This is when I react to the content. As I’m chewing on the fruits of my research, I’m generally looking for pathways from article to article. “Do these authors generally agree?” “Can I build a bridge from here to there?” During this process, I highlight, make notes, and keep track of my ideas. Sometimes, I’ll also put together a “mind map” that helps me connect ideas and uncover research trails I might not have explored in my early searches. Right now, my favorite mind-mapping software is XMind. I also like MindMup.

 

The Pivot: From Critical Analysis to Reconstruction

For me, academic research is a recursive process, and I might cycle through the first three phases several times before I ever reach the last. At this final stage, I begin to reconstruct. That is, having worked through my research, I’m ready to draw from my notes, order my ideas, and synthesize my findings. Typically, this process culminates in a piece of writing. During that eventual writing stage, I might decide to conduct more research—turning over more stones as I work through the finer details. Largely, though, my screen is split between viewing my PDFs and my Word Doc. (And, obviously, I have copious coffee on hand!).

 

My Academic Research is Better with Casedo

Whatever the project, my phases are the same: I gather, sort, dissect, and reconstruct. And with Casedo, the transition is fluid. First, because Casedo lets me import a mix of PDFs, Word Docs and emails with attachments, I have my work in one place. (And no longer must descend into the catacomb-like structure of my OneDrive!).

 

Sorting Research is Easier in Casedo

Casedo also makes it easy for me to sort my research. I typically drag-and-drop files into the Index, in the order I want to read them. From there, I might create folders or folders-within-folders if I want to further streamline my workspace.

 

Casedo Helps Me Track Relationships Between Documents

Once I have my files organized, I use Casedo’s continuous-scrolling feature to work through my research from top to bottom. While conducting that initial read through, I use the Bookmark, Highlight, and Comment tools in Casedo to keep track of my ideas. Although those tools are excellent, I think my favorite is the Link tool—I’ve never seen an annotation tool like it. With the Link tool, I can create a pathway between documents, which is helpful whenever I identify relationships and points of agreement/disagreement among authors. I think of my Casedo links as wormholes that transport me to my thinking, making it easier for me to connect ideas, compare documents, and generate ideas. (Before, I was always writing down these relationships; now I move through them). And because Casedo has two windows, once I find those relationships, I can rapidly add Comments and Highlights to the documents I’m comparing. Frequently, I’ll then recall bits of research that might also relate to my ideas. At that point, I appreciate the single search bar in Casedo, which helps me find the word or phrase I was thinking about, without having to open extra windows.

All in all, I think Casedo makes life easier whenever I’m working through complicated concepts in a stack of documents. That is, with all the smart tools and the pleasant all-in-one workspace, academic research is better with Casedo.

 

While you're here, click HERE to read our article on 'How to build an argument'.

**Updated September 18, 2022**


Man struggling to Choose Software Solutions

How We Choose Software Solutions at Casedo

What a legal tech software company has learned about how they choose software solutions

As we recently wrote, having to choose software solutions can be daunting. And although we're a software company, it's no less daunting for us to find the right solution. Generally, in selecting new software solutions, we try our hardest to "do as we say" and follow our best practices. That's a multi-step process, with us focused on (1) gathering information from our team, placing a special emphasis on identifying pain points, (2) keeping those pain points in focus as we research software solutions, (3) avoiding software with a trial period shorter than 30 days, and—perhaps most importantly—(4) selecting software that supports our ideal workflows, picking software that bends to us rather than the reverse.    Today, we'll pass along additional in-house tenets on selecting software.

 

How We Choose Software Solutions at a Glance

  • Just say "no" to feature creep.
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Take a sip before a gulp.

 

Just say "no" to feature creep

We're software geeks. We naturally love features. And, like anyone else, we light up when we come across a beautiful webpage for a software product—especially a well-designed "Features" page that piques our interests and convinces us to download the demo straightaway. However, as much as we love new features, we're constantly on the lookout for "Feature Creep," a phenomenon Wikipedia defines as "the excessive ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, especially in computer software," with the "extra features go[ing] beyond the basic function of the product" and "result[ing] in software bloat and over-complication, rather than simple design."    If you head into the hardware store looking for a buy-it-for life hammer, the hammer you want is probably not bundled with a wrench, a screwdriver, and a box of screws. When exploring potential software solutions, we try to remember what we came into the store for—and try to avoid getting pulled into bundle deals or jam-packed software offerings that distract us from that clear, simple mission. It also keeps us in the right pocket of the User Happiness Curve.

 

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

You might have heard it from your mentor: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (This sort of saying has been around for centuries.) And just as it's a helpful aphorism when completing your work, it's helpful to remember when selecting software solutions. First, do you really need a solution? And do you really need one right now? We all know that selecting solutions to improve workflows can temporarily derail those workflows—because you're focused on something other than the task at hand. If you're process nerds like we are, you might enjoy optimizing workflows. Are you sure the urge to find a solution isn't your monkey brain helping you procrastinate?    Once you've sorted things out and are sure you need a software solution, apply the principle again as you're selecting a solution. Just as it's easy to get pulled in by Feature Creep, it's easy to get dazzled by better/faster/slicker offerings. Sometimes, though, those offerings come at a cost. There's the hard cost as the price ticks up. There's also another cost, in that you'll likely delay decision-making—and thereby delay your time to implement improved workflows—while overwhelmed by the choices. Suddenly, you have an Excel document open weighing pros/cons of incredibly similar software. And, more likely than not, you came across a good enough solution in your first few searches. Heed the wisdom from the famous Jam Study and try to avoid option overload.

 

Trust but verify

When we choose software solutions, few things drive us more bananas than a broad webpage that sounds great...but puts all the detailed feature information behind a login screen. It feels like a ploy to get our e-mail address and start marketing to us. Along these lines, we get a bit frustrated when we see software companies touting "free" solutions and listing tons and tons of features in/around the word free, only to later reveal that those features are only included as part of the paid version. It's a bit of a bait and switch. And when you shoot straight like we do, that approach just doesn't sit well. We've learned to apply the time-tested "trust but verify" approach to reviewing website content (although we wish we didn't have to do that). We are constantly on the lookout for when a solution seems too good to be true. And we are also mindful of data-mining practices, cognizant of the principle that if you're not paying for the product, you may well be the product.

 

Take a sip before a gulp

As much as we love going full steam ahead, we want our software solutions to fit well. And the only way we'll know if they fit well is if we demo them. As we've written about before, we believe that most software demos should be at least 30 days long, which generally gives us enough time to put the software to the test. We also believe that a demo period should be just that—a demo period. Rather than take a big gulp of the software, take a sip. Run a small project on the back of the software. Maybe even a piece of a project. Try to isolate features you are most curious about. Else, you might reach the end of your free trial fascinated by the possibilities but lacking an adequate understanding of the meat and potatoes to make an informed decision.

 

Bringing it All Together

Just as we try to follow best practices when you choose software solutions, we also strive to give our customers the experience we’d want if we were in their shoes. That’s why:

  • We offer a fully featured 30-day trial of Casedo. You can try every feature in Casedo during the trial period—and that’s important to us. That way, would-be Casedo users can try out all the workflow-improving features without wondering what’s hidden behind a paywall.
  • We refuse to require credit information to start the 30-day trial of Casedo. Because we’re all busy and no one likes a “gotcha” at the end of a trial period.
  • We take a measured approach to adding features. We don’t want Casedo to do everything under the sun. We want it to do everything lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students need it to do—without becoming another feature-bloated digital distraction. We never add features without deep consideration.

 

Ready to take Casedo on a test drive?

You’ll love Casedo if:

  • You've felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents.
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents.
  • You'd like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs.
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many.

 

**Updated September 25, 2022**


Choosing technology

Best Practices in Choosing Legal Technology Software

Learn tried-and-true strategies to help you choose the right legal tech.

Choosing any new software, especially legal tech software, can be daunting—in large part due to the number of options out there. We've been on both sides of the selection process, having carefully chosen our own software solutions and also helped scores of lawyers and judges implement software to suit their workflows. In this article, we distil our insight and pass along best practices in choosing legal technology software. (Stay tuned for our upcoming feature on best practices in implementing legal tech.) 

 

Best Practices in Choosing Legal Tech at a Glance:

 

Gather information from your user base, attempting to understand pain points.

Here's one of the biggest missteps in choosing legal tech: failing to formally touch base with the users. (It's the same even if you have a team of one!) It's tempting to start exploring solutions, launching a Google quest and seeing what turns up. But before you head down the rabbit hole, you want to be sure you understand the problem you're trying to solve. By slowing down and taking time up front to inform your research, you'll save time downstream—more efficiently and effectively exploring potential solutions. 

The best way to gather information from a group of users is through a well-constructed survey. Most office suites include a survey tool (for example, Microsoft offers Forms in its 365 subscription) and you might have seen a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey. There are also ample resources on the web that can help you put together an effective survey. (We like the 10 foundational tips here.) Ultimately, however you construct your survey, your goal should be to learn where the pain points are with current workflows. And you might be surprised by what you learn. For example, it's not uncommon to discover that you don't need new legal tech software—you actually need a training initiative to make better use of your existing tools. You won't know until you ask. 

 

Focus on alleviating those pain points as you research software solutions.

Once you've gathered user input, it's time to start the research phase. It might go without saying, but that user input—and those pain points—should guide the research process. Along these lines, it's worth keeping in mind just how easy it is to get pulled in by exciting pages on software websites, coming across a snazzy solution that seems to offer more, more, more than your existing solution for even less money. Maybe the solution offers more for less, but does it address all those pain points? If not, you may wind up with the same problems you started with. (Indeed, beware of Feature Creep!). 

To be sure, user pain points aren't the only parameters for decision-making. You'll have to consider cost as well. But if you use the survey responses as guideposts, you can more effectively navigate through the solutions, separating wheat from chaff. 

 

Choose software that supports your ideal workflows—avoid bending to the software.

If you see a legal tech company touting a "new and improved" legal workflow, we suggest raising one eyebrow. In our experience, the best legal tech software doesn't offer up a "new and improved" workflow. Rather, the best legal tech software is designed to support your ideal workflows. It helps you work the way you want to work. Although there might be some degree of compromise in choosing software, we suggest finding legal tech that bends toward you and not the other way around. Put differently, you shouldn't have to adopt brand-new workflows. Your legal tech should fit YOU. 

 

Avoid legal tech software with a trial period shorter than 30 days.

It takes time to properly demo new software. And you shouldn't have to pay a dime while you're putting the software through its paces. Of course, not all free trials are equal. For example, when a trial is only 7 or 14 days long, it puts undue pressure on a prospective user: "Hurry up and pay or lose access!" Along these lines, some software companies fail to offer monthly subscriptions, pushing you toward annual contracts before you've gotten to decide whether the solution is right for you. Even worse, you'll find software companies that require a credit card to start a free demo, putting the onus on you to remember to "cancel" before your trial period turns into a paid period. We're not telling you anything you don't know. We just don't know why these practices are prevalent. 

In our experience as users, we feel like 30 days is the "sweet spot" for having ample opportunity to try a new legal tech solution. In 30 days, you'll have a good sense of whether you want to adopt the software. Mostly likely, you'll be at the point where you're deciding whether the solution fits into the budget. At that point, maybe it's worth paying for a month or two as you make the best decision possible to improve your workflows. 

 

Interested in how we choose software at Casedo? Click HERE for an article about how we bring these best practices into action at Casedo. 

 

Bringing It All Together

We've covered best practices in choosing legal tech software—a process that means something to us because we've been on both sides of it. Indeed, we created Casedo because we couldn't find software that helped us view, compare, and work through legal documents the way we wanted to work through them. And we offer a fully unlocked 30-day demo of Casedo—no credit card required—because we want prospective users to be free from the pressure we felt when seeking software solutions. At the end of the day, we want Casedo to fit your ideal workflow, so you love Casedo as much as we do. 

 

You might like to try Casedo if: 

  • You've felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents. 
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents. 
  • You'd like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs. 
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many.

 

**Updated September 13, 2022**


Casedo Solves Common Problems with Legal Workflows

Casedo Solves Common Problems with Legal Workflows

In short: Casedo makes it easy to navigate dozens of PDFs and master both your case file and your legal research.

 

Casedo was built by lawyers for lawyers. And it was built because no other software company seemed to understand how lawyers work with multiple documents. In this series, we’ll look at common workflow problems with legal workflows that lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students face when working on cases and legal research—and we’ll explore how Casedo solves these problems.

 

Common Problems with Legal Workflows that Casedo Solves:

 

 

Common Legal Workflow Problem #1: “The Mess of Tabs and Windows.”

“I need to master the case file, which contains dozens of PDFs and Word Documents. Because I move among documents, my digital desktop is a mess of windows and tabs in Adobe Acrobat and Word. It’s a bit chaotic. Moreover, trying to find the document I want is interrupting my thought processes.”

 

How Casedo Solves “The Mess of Tabs and Windows.”

Casedo is a tab-free digital workspace that puts all your case files within one click, freeing lawyers from cascading windows and the minimize/maximize dance. With multiple viewing areas in Casedo, you can rapidly toggle from document to document. Moreover, rather than have one case folder with dozens of PDFs and Word Docs, you’ll have one Casedo file—a tidy place to work through the record and master even the most complex of case files. 

Laptop displaying the intuitive tab free workspace in Casedo
Casedo’s intuitive workspace makes it easy to navigate through dozens of documents without using tabs.

 

Solving “The Mess of Tabs and Windows” was a big reason we created Casedo, because we needed a better way to navigate to key documents, both in the courtroom and in the office. And we’re pleased to hear from users that Casedo is solving this workflow problem: 

 

“Casedo provides the benefits of a paper bundle—particularly being able to quickly hold pages up against each other, highlight bits of text, and ‘stick a post-it in’—with all the benefits of search and speed that digital files have.”

Tom Haggie, Barrister, QEB

 

“I found Casedo really easy to use. It is intuitive, not cluttered with various menus and options and you could really get going with it in a matter of minutes.”

Peter Goff, Litigant in Person

 

Common Legal Workflow Problem #2: “The Siloed Approach to File Organization and Annotation.”

“I use a digital folder system and I put the entire case file in one place. The trouble is, I must open the dozens of documents one by one. And I have no way of building relationships between those documents. Ultimately, although the documents are foldered together, it’s difficult to interact with those documents at the same time.” 

 

How Casedo Solves “The Siloed Approach to File Organization and Annotation.”

For legal professionals, a case-by-case foldering system isn’t enough—lawyers need a way to map out how files relate to one another, keeping track of those connections when working through the record. To support a lawyer’s thinking process, Casedo lets you drag-and-drop all the case files into a single Casedo file. Once those documents are in that Casedo file, all you need to do is open the file to have ready access to every important document. From there, you have powerful tools to reach across documents: 

  • Casedo lets you build links between files, so you can easily navigate between them. You can create your own pathways through the case file, making it easy to jump to related information. Gone are the days of writing out key page numbers by hand. With Casedo, you can make links and jump right to the important page. 

 

 

  • Casedo gives you one search bar to search the entire case file, saving you time. Other software doesn’t understand that case files are related, forcing you to open documents one by one to search for a key phrase or passage. Casedo gives you a better way to work, offering a single search bar to search the dozens of documents you’ve placed inside your Casedo file. 

 

 

  • Casedo makes it easy to annotate your files with highlights, bookmarks, and comments. With a full suite of annotation tools, Casedo supports lawyers through the entire lifecycle of a case—from the initial mastery of the record to the final stages of developing arguments into strong written or oral advocacy. 

 

 

We’re proud to hear from Casedo users about how easy it is to build relationships between ideas and annotate cases in Casedo: 

 

“It enables you to link, view and annotate multiple sources and save, share and archive your work as a single project. Intuitive and easy to use, I have not seen anything else like it—as such it is truly revolutionary.”

Tom Longden, Director of Marketing & Communications, City University.

 

“Casedo provides the benefits of a paper bundle—particularly being able to quickly hold pages up against each other, highlight bits of text, and ‘stick a post-it in’—with all the benefits of search and speed that digital files have.”

Tom Haggie, Barrister, QEB

 

Common Legal Workflow Problem #3: “The Hassles of Assembling and Paginating a PDF for E-Filing”

“I need to assemble multiple PDFs and Word Docs into a single PDF—one that looks good and is properly paginated so I can e-file it with the court. However, this takes forever and I’ve resorted to writing page numbers on the PDF I put together because it’s simply faster than using the software tools currently available to me.”

 

How Casedo Solves “The Hassles of Assembling and Paginating a PDF for E-Filing”

PDFs themselves are a problem, and there is more than just a single type of PDF, but you have to work with them! A lawyer’s time is valuable, better spent analyzing cases rather than dealing with fussy software or writing numbers on pages. It should take thirty seconds—not thirty minutes—to organize documents into a single PDF, stamp them with page numbers, and export a PDF that’s ready for e-filing. Casedo is a time-saving software solution that’s built for the job, making it easy for you to build an Appendix, Exhibit Volumes, and other bundles of documents you’d like to tender to the court in a single e-filing.

  • Casedo makes it easy to assemble a PDF with an intuitive drag-and-drop system. Just load all the PDFs and Word Docs into Casedo. Once you’ve loaded the files, you can easily reorganize them by intuitive dragging-and-dropping. 

 

 

  • Casedo lets you paginate with just one click. There’s a slider at the bottom of Casedo that offers up one-click pagination. Change your mind and want to reorder the documents? Go ahead and reorder them. Casedo will automatically update the page numbers to match the new location. 

 

 

  • Casedo makes it easy export your PDF. Once you’re satisfied with your new document, Casedo makes it easy to export the PDF—immediately ready for e-filing. 

 

 

Easy PDF assembly and export for e-filing is one of the most popular features in Casedo: 

 

“Casedo is an extremely efficient and intuitive e-bundling tool, particularly useful for courtroom advocates. It’s leagues ahead of its Adobe counterparts, and likely to significantly reduce case preparation time. Casedo is fantastic software.”

Joe Rainer, Barrister, QEB 

 

Bringing it All Together

These are just a few of the common problems with legal workflows that Casedo solves for the modern legal professional. If you haven’t tried Casedo yet, we encourage you to give Casedo a test drive for free during a fully featured thirty-day trial. You’ll find Casedo especially helpful if: 

  • You’ve felt frustrated when using tabs to navigate legal documents. 
  • You wish you had a single search bar to search dozens of case documents. 
  • You’d like to share a complete case file without attaching scattered PDFs. 
  • You want to make one PDF—complete with a table of contents—out of many. 

 

Ready to give Casedo a go? We offer a completely free 30-day trial, so you can see how Casedo will transform your work. Sign up here today.

 


How to use Casedo as a legal case management system

It’s one of the biggest challenges of legal case management: making sense of multiple documents and being able to mark them up when needed, while also keeping the casefile tightly organised. Designed by lawyers for lawyers, Casedo enables you to stay on top of even the most complex case bundles.

 

Here’s a closer look at how Casedo can be put to work and used as a legal case management system, helping you make workflows more efficient and keeping you in control of your caseload, not to mention making you a more productive lawyer.

 

Case management essentials: how Casedo can help

A legal case management system provides a single location for dealing with all aspects of your caseload. Casedo gives you this ability, bringing all documents together in a digital hub, to provide a single, up-to-date view of each case.

But Casedo also goes several steps further. For a start, lawyers on the ground often need the ability to actually work with the documents within a case file; to flag up, and manipulate key passages, and to make notes where necessary. Life as a lawyer can also become a lot less stressful and more productive if you can get hold of exactly the document, page or passage you’re looking for, right when you need it.

Here’s how Casedo assists with each of these key elements of legal case management:

 

Staying organised

For each matter, the user creates a Casedo file. This provides a repository for importing all information relating to the file, including communications, attendance notes, case documents and items of research.

The platform features an easy to use drag-and-drop system for organising your documents into folders. This gives you lots of flexibility in how to structure your casefile, based on your personal preferences and the nature of the case. It also makes it easy to add further documents and tweak the casefile layout as the matter progresses.

The bigger the bundle, the harder it can be to manage. Casedo’s method for organising documents ensures that you maintain a clear, single view of your case at all times.

 

 Document mark-up

Digitising your files brings multiple benefits for legal case management. It reduces the risk of important documents going astray, it makes remote working easier, and it means less time wasted on multiple trips to the filing cabinet.

But when it comes to document mark-up, many lawyers still find it easier to have physical files in front of them. It’s common to see working binders liberally scattered with post-its, with passages of text highlighted, and lots of notes in the margins. With many case management software systems, it’s hard to replicate this.

Casedo is different. Using it, you can highlight important text, insert bookmarks to break documents into sections, and leave comments. You can also cross-reference these notes and highlights. This helps take traditional document mark-up to the next level: rather than just having a series of observations and highlights, you can link them together for more joined-up analysis.

 

Navigation and Legal Search

Case management software generally allows you to locate individual documents, quickly and simply. But again, Casedo goes further.

Let’s say you have a bundle that includes a large number of witness statements. As part of your pre-trial prep, you want to analyse and compare what witnesses have stated about a particular issue. You can use Casedo’s universal search function to find specific words and phrases across all of your documents with ease. This ability to actually drill down into the documents means less time flipping through binders and more time for preparation.

It’s worth noting that in order to be able to search for information within a document, your case management system has to be able to read it. The problem is that many documents (e.g. case law summaries, copy bank statements and technical information annexed to expert evidence) exist in pdf format, making them unreadable by case management systems. Casedo is unique in that it features Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, making unreadable pdfs readable, searchable and capable of editing.

As well as the text search capability, Casedo’s bookmarking function enables you to create a handy at-a-glance index of key case issues. The links function adds a further dimension here, allowing you to connect multiple points across your file.

 

Benefits of Casedo as a Legal Case Management System

Most legal case management systems let you bring together multiple documents. But thanks to a combination of search, bookmarking, highlights and links, Casedo is designed to help you join the dots and make better sense of the entire case.

This practical, ‘analysis-friendly’ approach to case management can be especially useful for lawyers who need to get to grips with a complex matter quickly, whether it’s a brief delivered to counsel, or the solicitor who wants to collaborate with another fee earner within the firm on a specific task.

You can also use Casedo alongside your existing methods of file storage and case management. When you need to create a trial bundle, for instance, you can create a case file within Casedo, drag and drop your pleadings, evidence and authorities from other locations, and pagination is handled automatically.

Finally, having a single casefile for each matter that’s easy to organise and reorganise is certainly useful when the case is ongoing, but it can also be useful when the case is concluded. Because the entire matter exists in a single digital file, storage, archiving and (where needed) retrieval becomes much easier.

 

References

Lawsociety.org.uk. (2019). Lawtech Adoption Research report - The Law Society. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/lawtech-adoption-report/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].

Smith, J. (2019). Why businesses need to go paperless now. [online] ITProPortal. Available at: https://www.itproportal.com/features/why-businesses-need-to-go-paperless-now/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].

Noi, D. (2018). Do workers still waste time searching for information?. [online] Blog.xenit.eu. Available at: https://blog.xenit.eu/blog/do-workers-still-waste-time-searching-for-information [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].


7 benefits of collaboration for lawyers

According to a study of more than one thousand companies, those organisations that actively promoted collaboration were five times more likely to be high performing. And while the legal profession has traditionally had a rather collaboration-phobic reputation, forward-thinking lawyers are now increasingly embracing smarter ways to promote teamwork. Experience on the ground suggests that firms, chambers, clients and individual lawyers are all reaping the benefits of innovative collaboration techniques.

 

So are you ready to make the shift towards greater collaboration? Here’s a closer look at the practical benefits that collaboration can bring for lawyers.

 

1. Attract new clients

Think about the types of client you would most like to bring on board. On the commercial side, it could be growth-stage companies, along with more established businesses with a wide range of legal needs.

Now think of the ways in which those businesses operate. In all likelihood, collaboration comes as second nature to them: in fact, they may even have particular collaboration-focused methodologies in place. Lots of law firms will have the technical skills to meet their needs, but which firm will be the best fit for a long-term relationship?

Once you embrace collaboration and put in place the case management and other tools to enable it, you can then showcase this as part of your marketing. Your way of working can form part of your unique selling point: a very useful draw for attracting lucrative instructions both from ambitious businesses and (on the private client side), the individuals who work within them.

 

2. Get the most out of your lawyers

Most firms have a set procedure in place for allocating new files to fee earners. So in an ideal world, at any one time, each lawyer will have enough work on to keep them busy without being snowed under.

Sometimes though, there can be a ‘feast or famine’ dimension to the way in which caseloads move along and new instructions come through the door. Let’s say one of your fee earners happens to conclude several of her big cases all in one go, freeing up her time. Ordinarily, she would be first in line for fresh work, but it’s a slow month for new instructions. In the meantime, it makes sense for her to help out with her colleagues’ caseloads.

If you have a case management system with a progress dashboard, a fully digitised file complete with the ability to annotate key documents, ad hoc collaboration for lawyers becomes a lot easier. Lawyers can get up to speed with unfamiliar cases very quickly. As such, there’s greater scope for fee earners to jump in and assist with existing matters in those instances where they have spare capacity.

 

3. Collaboration boosts wellbeing and performance in lawyers

Working in a silo can be a lonely experience. Pressure can build, and it can be hard to ask for help when you know that your colleagues are equally busy with their own to-do lists.

Evidence suggests that if you create a collaborative culture, staff tend to be happier, more productive and more engaged. For instance, one research study showed that participants who acted collaboratively stuck at the task 64% longer than their peers who were working alone. They reported higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels and a higher success rate.(1)

 

4. Open up new types of work

A big new case arrives. It will demand several of your lawyers and support staff working on it at once, possibly also with help from outside the firm.

You might ordinarily be reluctant to take on class actions and certain other labour-intensive, ‘document-heavy’ work. It isn’t so much the technical complexity of this type of work that’s putting you off, but the logistics of getting everyone working together.

However, equipped with a basic project management platform, remote access and document sharing with real-time editing capabilities, your ability to collaborate is hugely enhanced. It may even open up the possibility of taking on major, lucrative opportunities that you previously considered beyond your reach.

 

5. Faster turnaround and higher client satisfaction

Take a look at TrustPilot and other review sites and it becomes clear that swift, efficient handling of legal issues is one of the main drivers of positive reviews.

Collaborative working can actively help in keeping matters moving. This might involve encouraging lawyers to routinely seek input from inside the firm whenever they reach an impasse with the other side. More generally, by enhancing their ability to work as a team, you are likely to find that lawyers are able to progress matters more efficiently, thereby helping to keep satisfaction levels high — along with your review score.

 

6. Enhance your skillset

LinkedIn’s latest Talent Trends report suggests that 94% of employees would stay with a firm longer if they were offered learning opportunities.2 To support learning and development in a legal firm setting, collaborative working offers an excellent opportunity for both lawyers and support staff to gain experience in unfamiliar areas of law. One way to do this is to get employees involved in tasks on specific files. It’s a good way of exposing them to new work while under supervision, thereby helping them expand their skillset.

 

7. Easier recruitment

How do you attract the best talent to your firm or chambers? LinkedIn’s research also reminds us that there’s much more to it than the size of the salary on offer. New recruits increasingly look for evidence of a supportive culture, training and development opportunities, as well as the type of intuitive technologies that makes tasks easier to manage.(2)

We’ve already seen how adopting a collaborative approach and then showcasing your efforts can help attract clients. The same also goes for recruitment: by making it clear to new applicants that you actively encourage collaboration, it helps to paint a picture of a culture where they are likely to thrive and succeed.

Designed specifically for lawyers, Casedo lets you organise and manage even the most complex case bundles with ease for a single view. To discover a better way of working, book a demo of the Casedo software today. For lots more hints and tips on how lawyers can work better, explore our Insights Hub.

 

References

  1. Gaskell, A. (2017). New Study Finds That Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2017/06/22/new-study-finds-that-collaboration-drives-workplace-performance/#26cabd23d025 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].
  2. Samantha, M., 2020. Half Of All Companies Aren’T Providing A Positive Employee Experience. Here Are 7 Ways To Deliver One. [online] Business.linkedin.com. Available at: https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/employee-retention/2020/ways-to-provide-positive-employee-experience [Accessed 9 March 2020].

Collaboration software: how to optimise your legal practice

When lawyers work together, it’s usually a win for everyone. Clients see their matters resolved quicker, while firms and chambers get to make the best possible use of their resources. As for lawyers themselves, research suggests that working collaboratively tends to keep our engagement levels up while keeping fatigue at bay(1): some very good reasons why promoting collaboration software should be a top priority for any law firm.

 

But as our earlier guide highlighted, lawyers can be slow to embrace collaboration; very often because firms lack the technical toolkit to make it happen. Here’s a closer look at how the right collaboration software can help to break down those silos and give your efforts to promote greater teamwork a real boost.

 

Internal collaboration: look beyond email

In order to collaborate, one of the most important things your people need is an effective, zero-hassle collaboration software to each other and exchanging information: especially if your lawyers are scattered across multiple sites.

So what’s wrong with good, old-fashioned email? As an internal communications tool, email has its limits. Once you have multiple lawyers and support staff either directly inputting or else CC’d into a single thread, things can get confusing very quickly. Important messages and attachments can easily get lost, and after a while, it can be hard to work out who has seen what information and when. And if you want to draft someone new into a series of existing email conversations, it usually requires them to scroll through reams of messages to get up to speed, many of which are simple acknowledgements. In fact, one study showed that as much as 80% of business email traffic was surplus to requirements.(2)

Collaboration can become a lot easier if you switch away from email in favour of a more collaborative internal communications tool. With these, it’s a lot easier to group messages relating to a single matter in a more organised way, and to keep track of documents. All of this can mean less time searching through threads and more time actually communicating with each other.

 

Use project management tools to stay on track

A class action comes your way, along with the potential to generate a lot of fee income. However, with so many parties involved, progressing it will involve the collaborative input of multiple lawyers and support staff, along with the possible involvement of external enquiry agents and counsel.

For a managing partner, the sheer logistics involved in overseeing a sprawling, multi-party action might be enough for you to turn it down — despite it being a lucrative opportunity. You don’t doubt the collaborative abilities of your fee earners, but you do question how you can keep track of it all.

For these situations, a simple project management tool can make all the difference. With this type of collaboration software, you create a project board, create and assign tasks to specific individuals and set deadlines, while everyone involved can communicate and access all relevant information from a single hub.

There’s usually a strong visual element to this type of software: you can see at-a-glance which tasks are completed or in progress and what still needs to be done. As such, keeping track of a complex collaborative group project becomes a lot easier.

 

The role of case management software

We recently explored how modern case management systems can help lawyers become better organised and more efficient. It’s also worth noting that the right system is as much about collaboration as it is about management.

As an example, you’d like a colleague to take a look at one of your cases to give general pointers for moving it forward. Handing them several physical ring binders and expecting them to wade through it is a big ask. You could draw up a memo setting out the current position, but again, this takes time.

Using a digital case management system can help save time in situations like these. Especially if your case management system gives a dashboard-style view of individual cases, making it much easier for colleagues to dip into an individual matter and see right away what’s going on.

 

Document management and collaboration

True collaboration goes beyond peer reviews or assigning sequential tasks on an individual file. Sometimes, it’s highly useful for multiple fee earners to be working on the same case at the same time: to make amendments and to discuss strategy as they go along.

However, this can become difficult if people working on the case have different schedules. How can you ensure that everyone is working off the same information? First, decide how you’re going to save your files to give all relevant fee earners access to the case analysis and strategy. This could mean saving onto a shared server or, if you want to, onto a cloud-based storage solution. Alternatively, most case management systems incorporate some form of central location for accessing key documents, so look out for systems that have this as standard.

Then, choose a document management tool that allows you to pull all the documents relating to your case into a single, modifiable workspace and save this bundle to your shared storage. That way, any time someone receives a new piece of evidence or correspondence, they can instantly import it into the digital bundle, and everyone with access to the bundle can begin to analyse it and create links to the relevant parts of the case.

 

To discover for yourself how Casedo could enhance your team’s ability to collaborate, book a demo today. For more tips on driving efficiency, productivity and wellbeing in your firm, be sure to browse our Insights Hub.

 

References

  1. Gaskell, A. (2017). New Study Finds That Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2017/06/22/new-study-finds-that-collaboration-drives-workplace-performance/#26cabd23d025 [Accessed 7 Jun. 2023].
  2. Feintzeig, R. (2013). Before You Hit Send, Read This. [online] WSJ. Available at: https://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2013/08/09/before-you-hit-send-read-this/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].

 

 


How digital case management systems improve efficiency

A new case management system could be just what your firm needs to deal with sprawling caseloads, poor document management and technical barriers to collaboration: the very things that too often stop lawyers performing at their very best.

 

As The Law Society found recently, progressive members of the profession are busy shaking off its dusty image; thanks in part to the rise of tech-savvy lawyers who are much more likely to embrace new and smarter ways of working.(1) Offering the promise of a paperless office, streamlined workflows and more time for clients rather than being bogged down in paperwork, a new breed of case management system features front and centre in this mini technological revolution.

So how exactly can a case management system support an efficiency drive within your firm? Here’s a closer look at what’s possible.

 

Do I need a legal case management system?

The typical case management system provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for dealing with all aspects of your caseload.

Let’s say you need to work on a particular matter. Instead of hunting for the paper binders, you log onto your system, navigate to the relevant digital case file and access everything you need from there. This includes correspondence and other communications, file and attendance notes, key documents and contact details for all relevant parties.

Other popular system features include automated calendaring to keep you on top of important deadlines, the ability to generate and auto-fill forms and correspondence, along with automatic time recording and billing.

Here are some of the practical ways this digitised case management approach can help you become more efficient…

 

Promoting the paperless office

The typical worker in a traditional office setting uses about 10,000 pieces of paper each year.(2) In law firms especially, all of those physical files take up valuable office space. Individual items can go astray or even fall into the wrong hands. And of course, there are few things more frustrating than hunting high and low for a particular form or letter: especially when you’re faced with a deadline.

Modern case management systems all rely on file digitisation. This means that each and every document you need in relation to a case is made available in one central location, while any physical documents you receive are scanned and added to the system. A great case management system will also have a clear navigation and search function to help you instantly get hold of exactly the case information you need.

On average, a fifth of our time is wasted in trying to locate the information we need to do our jobs.(3) By cutting out those trips to the filing cabinet and making everything accessible with just a couple of clicks, you can dramatically reduce this major cause of inefficiency.

 

Making collaboration possible

In law firms, silos can be among the biggest barriers to greater efficiency. These days, most barristers, solicitors and paralegals have no objections in principle to working together on files; it’s just that technical limitations can stop it from happening.

If you are trying to work together on a physical file, it can be hard to work out who’s done what, thereby running the risk of task duplication. With paperless case management, team members can log in and instantly get up to speed with what’s happening via the matter dashboard. This makes case management software a particularly valuable investment if you’re serious about making greater use of teamwork to maximise efficiency.

 

Less time on forms means more time for strategy

Especially in areas such as conveyancing and corporate recovery, client matters tend to progress according to standard workflows, whereby certain forms need to be completed at set points in time. Even in more complex matters, there are still plenty of routine procedures you need to follow (standard client care letters, AML checks and interim billing, for instance).

Case management systems can help reduce the resources required for these routine, yet necessary, tasks. This includes generating standard letters at the right time, automatic field completion on official document templates and automatic time recording and billing.

Reducing your admin burden gives you more time for case strategy: you can focus on moving your caseload forward more efficiently rather than being faced with a mountain of forms to complete.

 

Get the most from your documents, and your time

Going paperless through a case management system can certainly help you get better organised. Featuring the latest optical character recognition (OCR) technology as standard, Casedo lets you take all of those scanned documents and turn them into a readable format. This means you can edit, annotate and search through a scanned document in the same way as a standard Word document.

For more tips on how to drive efficiency in your firm, be sure to browse our Insights hub. To discover for yourself how a rapidly growing number of chambers and law firms are transforming their approach to case management with Casedo, book a demo today or try Casedo free for 30 days.

 

References

  1. Lawsociety.org.uk. (2019). Lawtech Adoption Research report - The Law Society. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/lawtech-adoption-report/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].
  2. Smith, J. (2019). Why businesses need to go paperless now. [online] ITProPortal. Available at: https://www.itproportal.com/features/why-businesses-need-to-go-paperless-now/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].
  3. Noi, D. (2018). Do workers still waste time searching for information?. [online] Blog.xenit.eu. Available at: https://blog.xenit.eu/blog/do-workers-still-waste-time-searching-for-information [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].

 


Cloud cyber security

Cyber security threats: can we trust cloud-based legal tech?

For any forward-thinking lawyer, the benefits of legal technology (or ‘lawtech’) are hard to ignore. In areas such as case management, research, communications and more, tech is helping to boost productivity, drive efficiency and, most important of all, deliver better outcomes for clients.

 

For many of the new legal tech tools out there, that phrase ‘cloud-based’ is often listed as a selling point. The last thing any lawyer needs is to be hit by a security breach. And the implication sometimes seems to be because a solution is based in the cloud, somehow cyber security becomes “one less thing to worry about”.

In reality, cloud-based legal tech offers many benefits — but what it doesn’t do is make your cyber security responsibilities disappear. Here’s a closer look at the cloud in a legal business context, its implications for cyber security, and at how to keep your data safe.

 

The cloud for law firms: what are we talking about?

Let’s take case management software as an example. The typical case management product provides a single location for managing your files, generating documents, automating key tasks and keeping your workflow on track. All in all, it’s a pretty powerful piece of tech.

A decade or two ago, if a firm or chambers wanted access to this type of tool, it would have to purchase it outright, along with licences for individual users: a potentially large investment. The cloud-based model gives businesses an alternative way to access their tech. Instead of it being installed and located on their in-house computer servers, the software is hosted by either the software provider or a third party. Businesses access the software over the internet.


In addition to accessing software, the cloud also offers an alternative method for storing digital data. With cloud storage, instead of uploading information onto your firm’s own servers, that data is uploaded over the internet to the provider’s remotely located servers.


For lawyers, cost and convenience are probably the two biggest advantages of the cloud. Often referred to as ‘software-as-a-service’ (SAAS), you can pay for access on a monthly or annual basis, and add or remove users at relatively low cost.


So is the cloud inherently safer or less safe than traditional means of software access and data storage? Here’s a closer look at the cyber threat landscape — and at how the cloud fits into it.

 

Cyber security threats to law firms

cyber-security-threatsWith so much sensitive client information up for grabs, a typical law firm can provide rich pickings for cyber criminals — according to a Law Society Report in June 2019, 55% of British firms had experienced a cyber-attack in the previous 12 months.(1)

Cloud computing is sometimes billed as a way to help firms become less susceptible to security breaches. On the data storage front, the argument is that if your data is stored and backed up remotely, you will always be able to access it in the event that your in-house servers are attacked. In the case of software, updates and bug fixes tend to be handled by the software supplier, helping to keep you shielded from the type of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.


The reality is more complex. For a start, cloud-based computing basically introduces a “middle-man” into your data supply chain (i.e. a software and/or storage provider). In its report into the cyber threat and the UK legal sector, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) specifically cited ‘supply chain compromise’ as one of the most significant threats facing firms.2 There are two important takeaways from this:


Service providers themselves are susceptible to cyber-attack. According to NCSC, supply chain compromises have increased significantly recently, having risen by 200% in 2017.(2)


Ultimately, data in the cloud remains your responsibility. If client data is compromised, attempts to shift the blame to your cloud supplier will probably hold little sway in the eyes of your professional regulator, the data regulator – and most importantly, your client. This is especially the case if you have done little or nothing to exercise oversight over those cloud suppliers.

 

Cloud suppliers: how lawyers can make the right choices

The deadline for filing a statement on behalf of one of your clients is tomorrow. You attempt to log onto your cloud-based case management platform only to discover it is inaccessible. The supplier’s platform has been hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack: basically a malicious barrage of traffic designed to disable it. The longer it takes to get back online, the greater the chances of missing the deadline.

Reliable backup and resilience against this type of attack is a must. When you research cloud providers, always look carefully at their reputation, along with their track record at guaranteeing continuity of service. For instance, a 99.9% uptime record is acceptable, whereas a 95% record is not. To help you make the right choices, it’s worth taking a look at NCSC’s guidance on cloud-enabled products as well as The Law Society’s cloud guide.(3,4)

 

Focus on GDPR-compliant products

In force since 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets out the current framework for ensuring personal data security and privacy. To avoid sleepwalking into non-compliance (along with potentially hefty fines), you need to ensure that appropriate levels of security are in place to protect data against cyber-attacks and manage security risks. This includes looking closely at potential cloud service providers’ own procedures. Only select providers with a clear GDPR policy in place demonstrating compliance.

 

The flipside of accessing data from anywhere

One of the cloud’s big selling points is that so long as they have internet access, your people can log into your business systems from virtually anywhere, on any device. While this is good news if you want to encourage flexible and remote working, it can also trigger additional security issues.


In addition to supply chain compromise, the other major legal sector security issues flagged up by NCSC included targeted scams (phishing) and downloading infected material (malware). With each of these, the criminals behind them rely on the lawyer at the other end either clicking on something they shouldn’t or being duped into handing over information, such as a system log-in.


Security-conscious firms usually address this threat through a combination of technical measures such as email filters and anti-virus blockers. They also have robust rules in place, telling staff how to behave online. Just be aware that if you are using cloud software to facilitate remote working, make sure you update your policies and technical controls so that connected devices are secure — and your people know what’s expected of them.

 

What next?

When it comes to software and storage, it’s never a case of “cloud deployment, good; On-site deployment, bad” (or vice versa). Instead, tech tools should be considered on their own merits — and in particular, their ability to solve specific business problems. There won’t always be a clear business case for deployment through the cloud; but if there is, it’s then a case of looking carefully at any associated security risks and making sure that those risks are adequately addressed.


For further advice on the risks currently encountered in the legal sector, along with hints and tips on improving your business processes, be sure to explore our Insights Hub.

 

References

  1. Lawsociety.org.uk. (2019). The three biggest cyber threats facing law firms - The Law Society. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/practice-management/cybersecurity-and-scam-prevention/three-biggest-cyber-threats-facing-law-firms/ 
  2. Ncsc.gov.uk. (2018). 'The cyber threat to UK legal sector' 2018 report. [online] Available at: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/report/-the-cyber-threat-to-uk-legal-sector--2018-report 
  3. Ncsc.gov.uk. (2017). Managing the risk of cloud-enabled products. [online] Available at: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/managing-risk-cloud-enabled-products 
  4. Lawsociety.org.uk. (n.d.). Cloud computing - The Law Society. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/practice-management/cybersecurity-and-scam-prevention/cybersecurity-for-solicitors/cloud-computing/

 

 


Stressed person

How to deal with stress at work in the legal sector

Faced with a relentless stream of deadlines, a bulging caseload and high monthly billing targets, no lawyer is immune to feeling overwhelmed by life in legal practice. In fact, as the Law Society Gazette reported recently, a staggering 63% of lawyers at all levels of qualification are grappling with stress on a daily basis. (1)

 

It’s easy to forget sometimes, but there really is nothing normal or inevitable about constant pressure, unrealistic expectations or feeling overwhelmed, yet these seem to be ever-present elements of the day-to-day of a lawyer. To help you manage workplace stress, we take a closer look at some of the practical steps you can implement to take back control of your workload and safeguard your wellbeing.

 

Workload stress: here’s how to say ‘no’.

According to the UK Health & Safety Executive’s figures, workload pressure is by far the most common cause of work-related stress, cited by 44% of stress sufferers.(2)

Unfortunately, the principle, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person” can too often prevail in firms and chambers — especially when it comes to allocation of new instructions. A complex trademark dispute arrives. You did an amazing job on a similar one, so this latest case lands in your lap automatically, without any real consideration of whether you have the capacity to handle it.

To keep your caseload at a manageable level, knowing how to say ‘no’ is an invaluable skill for any lawyer. Let’s say a senior partner emails you with a new instruction when you’re already very busy. Instead of declining the work outright, try reframing your response in such a way as to invite the person requesting the work to consider your priorities: for example, “I can take it on, but this will mean putting X’s existing case on the back burner for a fortnight — or else reassigning it. Is that ok?”.

Likewise, if an existing client approaches you directly with a new instruction when you are at capacity, it’s useful to be able to offer a workable alternative rather than an outright no. This might involve recommending someone else within the firm to handle it, so you are actively helping to solve the client’s problem, without overburdening yourself.

 

Sharing the load through collaboration

‘Lack of support’ was another common trigger of stress highlighted in the HSE’s findings. This will ring true with many legal fee-earners: you have a big caseload to handle, and it can too often feel like you are on your own in managing it.

The stress associated with this can be reduced when firms introduce a more group-focused approach to case handling. Cultural barriers and an over-emphasis on individual targets can make it harder for lawyers to work together, however, digitising your files can go a long way in helping reduce these barriers.

With collaborative tools, you can share files with ease and work on them simultaneously, get ideas and feedback, all from a single platform. Regular round-table meetings are also a good way of giving lawyers the opportunity to talk through problematic cases, to find a way through workflow bottlenecks and to help prevent those lawyers from feeling overwhelmed.

 

Your time is precious: here’s how to take back control

A certain amount of stress can be a positive thing; especially for helping you think on your feet. Stress becomes a problem however, when it is constantly or frequently present, and when you feel your calendar and caseload is controlling you, rather than the other way around. Keeping stress in check requires you to retake control of your time. Strategies for this include the following:

how-to-deal-with-stress-at-work

  • Disable work notifications in your own time. If clients or colleagues believe you are available 24/7, they will likely try to contact you at all hours. Draw a line between your time and work time, as it becomes impossible to switch off and recharge without it.
  • Split large tasks into manageable chunks. If you have a complex task ahead of you (drafting a detailed opinion, for instance), start by splitting it into distinct parts. Next, estimate realistically how long each part will take to complete and reserve sufficient time for each part in your diary. This should help these major tasks feel much less daunting.
  • Identify ways to improve productivity. From scheduling set blocks of time for answering emails through to using a Kanban chart to help your workflow run more smoothly, if you can find ways to work more efficiently, it helps you avoid that incredibly stressful feeling of getting nowhere fast with your workload. For ideas on how to make positive changes, check out our 7 productivity tips.

 

Get organised for greater wellbeing

As a barrister, your instructing solicitor has requested an emergency pre-trial conference. With multiple ring binders of enclosures to consider and limited time to get through it, simply getting organised can be a stressful process in itself.

With the right type of technology at your fingertips, it becomes possible to remove many of the frustrations that can arise when you have a complex bundle on your desk. With Casedo, for instance, you can import all your documents into a single manageable file. It means that navigating the bundle instantly becomes a lot easier; you can get to exactly the right section you require in an instant, annotate and make sense of the entire bundle and see the whole picture in much less time and with a lot less stress.

 

To discover how Casedo can help you retain control of your caseload, try our free demo today. You can also find more information on issues affecting legal professionals, and how you can overcome them, in the articles on our Insights hub.

 


Female office worker is tired of work and exhausted.

How does work pressure affect legal professionals?

It’s fair to say that bringing up the topic of work pressure to non-lawyer friends isn’t always guaranteed to trigger a massive outpouring of sympathy.

 

The problem lies in the old myth that a lawyer’s life must be a glamorous rollercoaster ride, packed with variety, intellectual stimulation, high-octane court showdowns, along with a bulging bank balance. If there’s a little stress along the way, then surely it’s just all part of the job? The facts paint a more worrying picture. One survey suggested that barristers are more stressed than NHS workers(1), while a Bar Council report(2) found that 58% of criminal barristers and two-thirds of family barristers are under too much work pressure. According to the Bellweather Report: Stress in the legal profession, almost 66% of solicitors currently experience high levels of stress, and three quarters think that stress/mental wellbeing is a major issue across the profession.

The law has a stress problem, but understanding an issue makes you much better able to manage it. With this in mind, we take a closer look at stress and the problems it can lead to, why it’s such an issue for lawyers — and the practical steps you can take to manage work pressure.

 

What is work stress?

Behavioural experts define stress as the “biological and psychological response experienced on encountering a threat”(3). Sometimes referred to as ‘fight or flight’, it’s an essential part of the body’s emergency response system. Your brain senses danger and therefore triggers the release of certain chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol to equip you with the means to deal with it.

A certain element of stress can actually be a good thing. Let’s say, for instance, that you are about to start cross-examining a witness: positive stress responses such as a slightly raised heart rate, heightened awareness and increased concentration can be just what’s needed to help you think on your feet.

Stress becomes a problem when you are no longer in control of it. If you’re frequently in crisis mode and feel unable to cope, it can have serious physical, mental and professional consequences.


What are the consequences and symptoms of work-related stress?


how-does-work-pressure-affectIn 2018-19, almost 13 million working days in the UK were lost due to stress, making it the top reason for workplace absence(4). To try and plough on without taking time off, it’s also common for sufferers — lawyers included — to self-medicate through alcohol and substance use. For instance, in one survey, 1 in 5 lawyers reported problematic alcohol or drugs use at some point in their lives, and three-quarters of these said it had arisen after they had entered the profession(5).

Common signs of problematic stress include the following:

Physical: Insomnia, exhaustion, weight changes, muscle aches, feeling faint, headaches, digestive problems, a pounding heart and chest pain.

Mental: Panic attacks, feelings of restlessness, guilt, anger, insecurity, mood swings, forgetfulness, hopelessness and anxiety.

Behavioural: Problem avoidance and procrastination, becoming withdrawn and an unwillingness to engage with your colleagues, irritability with colleagues and clients, personal neglect.


 

Why is stress such a problem for lawyers?

The issue of stress in the workplace is a well-documented phenomenon across the legal profession, yet it seems that the sector struggles to tackle this problem. Various aspects of the working environment and culture at the core of the legal industry factor in creating workplace stress issues for lawyers:

 

Caseload management

From the never-ending stream of deadlines through staying on top of targets, life as a lawyer can sometimes feel like being hit by pressure from every angle. Day-to-day relationships can also be stressful to negotiate; particularly the difficult conversations you need to have in order to manage the expectations of clients.

 

Workplace culture

Too often, competition rather than collaboration is the driving force in a law firm. In this type of environment, churning out the bills and maintaining healthy work-in-progress becomes all-important, while asking for help or admitting that you have too much on is seen as a sign of weakness. Long hours are also seen as the norm rather than an exception — compounded by the possibility of being contacted about work 24/7 via mobile.

It’s an atmosphere that can be particularly damaging to inexperienced lawyers. As an example, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) found that a quarter experience “extreme” work stress, while 1 in 3 admitted to making mistakes that wouldn’t have happened if they were not overworked(6).

Changes to the profession

In areas such as crime, family, housing and immigration, legal aid cuts have forced firms to rethink the way they operate; something that can place considerable pressure on individual lawyers(7). Survival for firms can sometimes mean over-reliance on junior caseworkers on complex matters, thereby piling on extra stress, while increasing the likelihood of mistakes being made.

Meanwhile, in civil litigation, lawyers are dealing with the onward expansion of fixed recoverable fees as a replacement to traditional hourly billing(8). For the lawyers whose job it is to run these files, the pressure is on to get them concluded as quickly and efficiently as possible to keep the numbers up.

 

How do you handle pressure at work?

The first step is to recognise that you have a problem — and that you’re certainly not alone in facing it. Next, it’s about putting together a workable plan to tackle it — and this usually involves taking a good look at your caseload to see what can be done to make it more manageable. For instance, do you need to reduce the number of files so you can stay on top of everything? Is what’s currently expected of you realistically achievable? Would some extra administrative support or technical assistance help you become better organised? 

 

Why not read more about this on Legal Futures? Click HERE for more.


For further advice on the risks currently encountered in the legal sector, along with hints and tips on improving your business processes, be sure to explore our Insights Hub.

 

References

  1. Walters, M. (2018). Barristers ‘more stressed’ than NHS staff. [online] Law Gazette. Available at: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/barristers-more-stressed-than-nhs-staff/5064880.article
  2. Barcouncil.org.uk. (2018). New report from the Bar Council reveals true impact of struggling justice system on barristers’ profession. [online] Available at: https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media-centre/news-and-press-releases/2018/may/new-report-from-the-bar-council-reveals-true-impact-of-struggling-justice-system-on-barristers%E2%80%99-profession/ 
  3. Mcleod, S. (2010). What is the Stress Response | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-biology.html 
  4. Palmer, S. (2019). 12 million working days lost to work-related mental health conditions last year. [online] People Management. Available at: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/12-million-working-days-lost-to-work-related-mental-health-conditions 
  5. Cidambi, M.D, I. (2017). Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Legal Profession. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/sure-recovery/201707/drug-and-alcohol-abuse-in-the-legal-profession
  6. Walters, M. (2017). One in four junior lawyers suffers ‘severe’ stress at work. [online] Law Gazette. Available at: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/one-in-four-junior-lawyers-suffers-severe-stress-at-work/5060631.article
  7. Bowcott, O. and Duncan, P. (2018). Strain of legal aid cuts shows in family, housing and immigration courts. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/dec/26/strain-of-legal-aid-cuts-showing-in-family-housing-and-immigration-law
  8. Rose, N. (2019). Fixed costs impact: “Less income per claim but more cases” – Litigation Futures. [online] Litigation Futures. Available at: https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/fixed-costs-impact-less-income-per-claim-but-more-cases 

 

 


Woman lawyer holding tablet at work, cybersecurity

How lawyers can reduce stress at work with legal tech

Almost two-thirds of lawyers struggle with high levels of pressure on a daily basis, which can take a serious toll on efficiency — not to mention your mental health. The majority of people in the legal profession could benefit from exploring how to reduce stress at work, and the right legal tech can perform an incredibly valuable role.

 

Lawyers can reduce stress at work through legal technology which helps with managing workloads, creating a more supportive culture.

Helping to create a supportive environment

Even for the most experienced lawyer, joining a new firm can be a daunting and stressful experience. There’s a whole new culture to get familiar with, new processes to learn, very often with an implied expectation that you will hit the ground running in generating fees. This pressure helps explain why around 40% of people who move on from a job do so in the first few months.

 

Technology can help make onboarding less stressful for new starters, as well as providing valuable support for existing staff. For instance, with a legal intranet (a private communications network) built around the specific needs of your law firm, you can provide a one-stop hub hosting all the supporting information staff need to do their job. This might include not just forms and precedents but also items such as your employee handbook and firm-wide and departmental news and information.

 

Linked to this, you might also want to include a dedicated ‘welcome’ portal for new employees, featuring things like FAQs and orientation guides for your case management system. All of this can go a long way in relieving the pressure on staff, helping them get to grips with unfamiliar, complex processes in bite-sized chunks.

 

Less time wasted on frustrating searches

According to one report, almost 20% of business time — the equivalent of one working day a week — is wasted by staff searching for the information they need to get the job done. For any lawyer who has spent time frantically leafing through ring binders to find an elusive witness statement against a looming deadline, this statistic will feel all too relatable. One of the biggest drivers of stress can be that nagging feeling of getting nowhere fast with a file: spending too much time trying to get organised and not enough time actually moving matters forward.

 

It’s here that file digitisation can be especially valuable. Storing all case data in a single location means eliminating the stress involved in hunting for physical documents. If your case management or other digitisation system has easy-to-use navigation and search features, you should be able to access precisely the information you need in seconds.

 

Helping you share the load

If you can rely on help from colleagues, it can help to stop you getting overwhelmed or feeling on your own when pressure builds. But the absence of the right technology is one of the biggest barriers to teamwork in law firms.

 

By adopting legal tech tools that feature multi-user access, you can help break down the collaboration barrier. This allows lawyers to share information about specific cases in a secure way and to work together on documents in real-time. More generally, if a firm or chambers has a central hub for communications, for brainstorming, sharing ideas and submitting shout-outs for assistance, it can go a long way in reducing feelings of stress and isolation.

 

Less ploughing through documents and more insight

A mountain of routine yet necessary work can easily sap your enthusiasm. It can be especially stressful if you find yourself bogged down in admin with not enough time to focus on ideas and advice: i.e. the things that clients are paying you for.

 

Through the application of smart automation, legal tech can go a long way in reducing your admin burden, freeing up your time for what’s really important. Examples include smart templates for all manner of forms and correspondence, and automated electronic billing features within case management systems that save you from having to manually fill in timesheets. You can even use language recognition technology to flag up potentially relevant segments of information within vast quantities of text; something that can be especially useful when a huge discovery bundle lands on your desk.

 

Rarely does a case become simpler the longer you have hold of it. Thanks to a build-up of communications, a steady stream of evidence fed through at various points plus the involvement of multiple parties, the most straightforward matter can gradually morph into a very different beast.

 

Keeping stress at bay requires the ability to keep a clear picture of the case, no matter how complex it becomes. This is where Casedo can prove invaluable: by giving you the ability to import your case files into a single manageable document, you can organise and annotate your bundle as you go and get hold of exactly the case information you need, right when you need it.

 

For more information on how to boost productivity while reducing the effects of work pressure, be sure to explore our Insights hub. To discover precisely how Casedo is helping lawyers better manage their caseload along with their stress burden, book a demo today.


Collaboration

Why does the legal profession resist collaboration?

Logic might suggest that to operate as efficiently and productively as possible on complex problems, a culture of collaboration would be a must for any legal organisation. But while the adjectives, cut-throat and competitive seem to be frequently levied at law firms, that phrase, collaborative seems to rarely get a look-in. So are lawyers a uniquely collaboration-phobic breed? Or is it that too often, the tools and processes that might enable more effective teamwork simply aren’t there? We take a closer look at the barriers to collaboration within the profession — and at how attitudes and practices are changing.

 

What is collaboration in the workplace?

A standard definition of collaboration is of “individuals working together to a common purpose to achieve a business benefit.”(1). If we place this definition in the context of a legal organisation, the following points are especially relevant:


Collaboration can extend outside the firm. Collaboration could take the form of two or more individuals from the same department all contributing to the creation of a statement or court document. Other examples include a joint task completed with an external partner (a forensic accountant or costs draughtsperson, for instance). Or it could involve liaising directly and working with your client on the creation of a specific task.


Collaborating and contributing are not necessarily the same thing. Let’s say a client needs to know the tax implications of a pending deal you are negotiating, so you ask your firm’s tax department to prepare a written opinion. This is a distinct task, involving no cross-departmental interaction when it is underway. This form of multi-departmental involvement is common (especially on complex matters), but it’s not the same thing as collaboration.

 

What makes lawyers reluctant to collaborate?

By rights, the typical law firm ought to be a natural environment for collaboration. For example, when a client approaches you with a new instruction, the issue in question does not always fit into a simple, one-issue categorisation. ‘Messy’ client problems are all in a day’s work for many legal professionals: the type of files that touch upon multiple areas of law and require input from more than one department.   One study of over 1,100 organisations found that companies that actively promoted and enabled collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing.(2) Meanwhile, 86% of employees and managers cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.(3)


Despite this, there can often be a reluctance to embrace active collaboration within law firms. Here are some of the main reasons why…

 

Client expectations

Let’s say one of your senior partners has achieved Legal 500 Hall of Fame status. A client approaches your firm on the strength of this. There may be a fear that a collaborative method of case handling might somehow dilute this partner’s brand; that if the client were to discover that the partner was just one of many fee earners who will be dealing with the file, they may feel they are getting less than they bargained for.

collaboration-quote
Lawyers can often develop a strong sense of ownership over their individual files and client relationships, and this can sometimes lead to a reluctance to collaborate. On one level, this makes some sense from a client care perspective: it means that clients know exactly who they are dealing with, along with a clear and very simple communication channel.


But a lot of the time, when we say we prefer interacting with a single person, what we really mean is that we want a seamless experience with the company we are dealing with: something that 87% of consumers believe businesses should work harder to deliver.(4)


Collaboration doesn’t have to mean weaker client care: in fact, the opposite is true. If you can demonstrate to clients that you have the processes and culture in place to bring together skills from across the firm (and from outside it) to deal with their problem as effectively and swiftly as possible, this could be an incredibly valuable selling point for the business as a whole.

Law firm culture v commercial reality

Long hours, inter-departmental competition and a dog-eat-dog aversion to teamwork: recent reports suggest that these rather outdated attitudes are still alive and well in some law firms.(5) In the worst cases, far from encouraging collaboration to ensure group goals are met, the emphasis is more on pressuring individual lawyers to meet tough personal targets.


The rationale behind this is that competition forces the best out of fee earners – and that a more collaborative approach would somehow weaken accountability and make individual lawyers less goal-oriented.


Harvard Law School distinguished fellow, Heidi Gardner has carried out detailed research on the impact and potential of collaborative working in law firms.6 Her findings reveal that far from driving profitability, silos within and between departments are often “messy, risky and costly”. By contrast, where collaboration is embraced and successfully implemented, firms are much better able to handle complex and lucrative work, to grow client loyalty and increase their margins. Faced with this commercial reality, the continued existence of an anti-collaboration culture is hard to justify.

 

Technical barriers

You have no objection in principle to collaboration – and in fact, you’d like to see more of it within your organisation. In this situation, the real barrier to collaboration may be less to do with culture and more closely linked to process limitations.


For instance, let’s say you have a detailed settlement proposal to prepare. This document would benefit from simultaneous input from multiple departments within the firm along with outside counsel – and perhaps even the client’s in-house team. The individuals involved need the ability to interact with and add to the document without fear of versioning errors. Beyond this, effective collaboration may be impossible unless everyone involved has access to the same supporting documentation, along with the ability to effectively navigate what may be vast amounts of information.


As well as encouraging collaboration, it’s also vital that firms have the technical capabilities in place to make it happen.

 

What next?

From increasing your capacity to handle more lucrative work through to improving lawyer wellbeing, a greater emphasis on collaboration offers multiple advantages for firms, individual employees and clients alike.

You can read more about what’s possible in our guide: 7 benefits of collaboration for lawyers.
For more tips on building a more productive, collaboration-focused environment, be sure to explore our Insights Hub.

 

 

References

  1. Aiim.org. (2019). What is Collaboration?. [online] Available at: https://www.aiim.org/What-is-Collaboration#.
  2. Gaskell, A. (2017). New Study Finds That Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2017/06/22/new-study-finds-that-collaboration-drives-workplace-performance/#47281d0e3d02
  3. Stein, N. (2012). Is Poor Collaboration Killing Your Company? [Infographic]. [online] Salesforce Blog. Available at: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2012/09/nick-stein-work-post-2.html (2022.09.20 NO LONGER AVAILABLE)
  4. Bedgood, L. (2019). 25 Amazing Omnichannel Statistics Every Marketer Should Know | V12. [online] V12data.com. Available at: https://v12data.com/blog/25-amazing-omnichannel-statistics-every-marketer-should-know/
  5. Young-Powell, A. (2018). ‘Toxic, cut-throat’: the work culture awaiting junior lawyers. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/dec/13/toxic-vile-cut-throat-the-work-culture-awaiting-junior-lawyers
  6. Gardner, H. (2017). The case for smart collaboration. [online] Thomson Reuters. Available at: https://blogs.thomsonreuters.com/answerson/case-for-smart-collaboration/