As the pandemic is waning, lots of law firms have come to me with interest in digging deeper into their existing software. Firms want to leverage more of the tools they are already using or in many instances, underutilizing.
Many firms are using a practice (case) management system (PMS) primarily for their time and billing system, and this is the core function of most systems. But firms should not stop there. With client and matter information already stored in the system, firms need to use that information to their advantage.
Over the next few blog posts, I am going to focus on four areas that firms can take advantage of while using their PMS with a particular focus on Clio, the leading cloud-based legal practice management system. These four areas include:
- Calendars (this article)
- Custom fields
- Document templates/document assembly
First up – Calendars. Most firms rely heavily on their calendar for their daily schedules, deadlines, statutes of limitation and even personal items. Everything is on the calendar. In many practices, attorneys rely on staff to schedule their time and tell them where to show up and when. From paper calendars to Outlook and Gmail, using laptops, cell phones and other mobile devices, calendars are an integral part of most firms.
The great part about utilizing a calendar within a PMS is that it’s very easy to implement. Rather than entering that calendar entry in Outlook, on paper or in their cell phone, you shift to enter the calendar information into your PMS. It looks almost the same as a calendar event in any other program. This is an example of a calendar event in Clio:
The event information includes everything you need from the time, date, location (can be hooked to include a Zoom meeting), reminders, and attendees. The bonus information included in the event is the client and matter information. This is added in automatically by scheduling your event into your PMS. It saves a step by not having to manually enter the person or the matter into the event.
As the matter moves forward, all the calendar events for that matter are stored in one location and you are not scrambling around searching your calendar to try and find when you last met with your client.
For the Outlook and Gmail folks out there, all these calendar events can sync from Clio (or your PMS) to your calendar in Microsoft 365 or Gmail. NOTE: Each person would need to sync their own calendars. While it sounds complicated, it is as easy as entering in your email address and password. That is as hard as the calendar sync gets.
To further your use of the calendar in Clio, feel free to share your calendar with your team for them to see your schedule. You may have similar calendar sharing in Outlook that would need to be replicated in Clio, but, again, this can be accomplished in just a few steps.
As a bonus, Clio recognizes that many calendar events turn into time entries. If you are an hourly biller, those same calendar items can be converted into time entries with the click of a button:
The description of the calendar entry is added as the description of the time entry. The duration of the calendar entry will convert to the duration of your time entry. One less thing to do and we all need easy ways to enter time.
There are lots of other benefits for leveraging the calendar in a PMS including adding your client, internal staff or other related contacts to meetings, reminders and syncing to multiple calendars. Most firms would benefit from syncing their calendars to their PMS and scheduling calendar events directly in that system. Everything will sync back to Outlook and your phone just as it does now, and you will not miss a beat.
I hope everyone will check out calendaring in their practice management system because it’s one more way to leverage a tool that you are already paying for.
Legal Cloud Technology