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Why is a lawyer billing software essential for a law firm?

The essential lawyer billing software for a law firm

Lawyer billing software is a healthy firm’s best friend.

As we all know, lawyers don’t live on love and fresh water. And without billing, no fees. So why on earth is this task seen as the bête noire in their to-do list?

Probably because the time spent on it takes away from more essential tasks: case processing, client meetings or the firm’s growth strategy.

Yes, but… Making money “physically” is part of the life of any firm that wants to survive and flourish. Of course, not all firms have a dedicated accounting department and the smallest of them have to do everything themselves, in addition to the consulting work.

However, this step is no less essential. So we might as well roll up our sleeves and find the tool that will free them from this repetitive work.

Invoicing software for lawyers or how to save time

The process of invoicing a client is a bit like a fighter’s journey: fill in the required information, calculate the fees in HT and TTC, send the invoice, monitor the collection, follow up on unpaid invoices, transfer the whole thing to the accountant. And all this, for each client that the land has known.

So why not take advantage of the benefits of technology and innovation? Indeed, a simple software can pre-fill all the mandatory data of the invoice. Above all, it takes the place of humans for the daunting tasks of calculation and editing. All this in just a few clicks on your phone, wherever you are geographically.

In addition, the system automatically synchronizes itself with the features that follow the files instantly. Is a folder closed? This systematically triggers invoicing. Goodbye to the mental burden of accounting!

Editing invoices quickly: the promise of lawyer billing software

Each to his trade. And employees have better things to do than calculate additions or percentages.

Digitization has the ability to produce a number of invoices per minute that a fast human typist would be unable to produce. A lawyer’s invoicing software industrializes the editing of invoices and exports the data to any accounting tool.

In addition to saving time, readability is also very clear thanks to the centralization of all the essential information. A dashboard summarizes the list of clients to be invoiced, the price conditions negotiated with them and the payment history.

Stop losing money and manage your firm’s cash flow in real time.

Firms, like any business, are facing a phenomenon that is killing cash. Yes, we are talking about unpaid bills, which represent an average of 30% of lost earnings. However, cash flow is the sinews of war, especially in this period when the digitalization of law is creating competitors who are looking at the lawyers’ market (not to mention the gloom associated with COVID).

Invoicing is already a thankless task. But sending reminders and follow-up are even more so. A lawyer billing software will take care of all these time-consuming tasks. The gain of the operation? 30% on average more in the cab’s turnover.

This tool gives the partners the possibility to see the cash flow situation live. And therefore to identify lucrative market shares and take the appropriate actions for the growth of the firm thanks to the time saved on invoicing.

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The Lawyer’s Communication 1/2 – Differentiation

The Lawyer’s Communication 1/2 – Differentiation

As you know, since 2014, lawyers have the right to communicate. If this communication is authorized, it is nevertheless strictly framed by the texts. This will fortunately not prevent you from communicating in different ways to make your message known (we will come back to this in a future article).

Today, in the general hubbub, and whatever the market you have chosen, it is likely that your prospects will be spoilt for choice. So you need to develop a message that catches their attention: only way to be the one they choose.

Differentiate to exist 

As explained above (Article 2), presenting yourself as “a family law lawyer”, “an administrative law lawyer” or “a labour law lawyer” is a good start. Unfortunately, this will not be enough to allow you to emerge. It is important to build a distinctive message to be quickly noticed and identified.

An attorney in employment law can thus place himself as an advocate for employees or, on the contrary, as an advocate for employers. A family law lawyer can communicate on a particular aspect (international divorces…). An attorney in criminal law can of course present himself as a defense attorney or a civil party attorney. As for business law, it offers the possibility to present a circumscribed offer such as intellectual property, companies in difficulty or, for example, criminal business law. Look carefully, all areas of law lend themselves to this targeting exercise.

Depending on the market you have targeted, it may be relevant to strengthen your skills by adapting them. With a degree in rural law, I was able to practice urban planning law with a greater focus on the agricultural world. On a personal note, although I have never wanted to practice exclusively in rural law, my installation in an area close to the countryside has led me to perfect my skills in this area.

Simplifying and making its message accessible

To be understood and powerful, be sure to present your message in the interest of those for whom you will be acting. To simplify your message, ask yourself how you would present your activity to your parents (or children). Would you describe yourself as “a lawyer who specializes in labor law on the employee side” or “a lawyer who defends employees in their conflicts with their employers”? As a criminal lawyer, you can say that you accompany the civil parties from the filing of the complaint to the execution of the judgment. As an intellectual property attorney, you can say that you help companies to protect their brands, etc.

Your presentation will be all the easier as you will have well thought about your offer, your skills and your motivations (cf. articles 1 & 2). This presentation follows on from the previous steps outlined (summary definition of your offer, confrontation with the market, refinement of your offer, which becomes “remarkable”).

If you wish to become a remarkable and “disruptive” marketing expert, I invite you to discover the marketing vision of Seth Godin, the author of “The Purple Cow”

As a lawyer by training, you may feel that my advice is far too far removed from your concerns. It’s true that Seth Godin has inspired many more start-ups than he has inspired many more top lawyers. You are probably skeptical or worried. Don’t panic! It’s perfectly normal to be afraid! Don’t worry, an offer that misses its target will be easy to change and inexpensive. And if you miss, no problem. Before he succeeded, Thomas Edison never failed but “found 10,000 solutions that didn’t work. The advantage of our intellectual and intangible business is that we don’t have to invest in a new machine or create a manufactured product that took 3 years of research and development. Test your offer and you will see!

Moreover, nothing will prevent you, at least initially, from continuing to work in other fields than those you have put forward. But this “targeting” will allow you to give your firm a dynamic, a color, in a word: a signature. The next step will be to use as many communication levers as possible to make this signature known. 

About the author

avocat entrepreneur

Presentation and introduction of Master Chloé Schmidt-Sarels.

Graduated from CAPA in 2012, I did not want to practice as a lawyer at all. So I started my professional career as the legal manager of a start-up company.

After a very enriching experience, a need for autonomy and a certain nostalgia for public law led me to settle down as a liberal lawyer.

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[#SERIES] Occupation: Lawyer Entrepreneur #2

Profession: Entrepreneur Lawyer – Adapting supply to demand – #2

You have decided to settle down and wish to become an identified or even recognized lawyer in your preferred field. As explained above, it is in your best interest to devote yourself to one of the branches of law that suits you best.

Alas, to successfully develop your activity, it is not enough to practice the law you love. There must still be sufficient demand to support you. A brilliant businessman may be able to sell ice cream to Eskimos, if there is no market an entrepreneur will have a hard time surviving. The main factor of failure of start-ups would be the lack of market (in 42% of the cases, according to a CB insight study).

So, as an entrepreneur-attorney, you too must ask yourself the question of the market. That is to say, whether your skills can meet clearly identified needs. If you confirm that there is a market large enough to support you, you will then have to estimate your capacity to emerge on this market.

Identify the needs and number of potential requests in your industry and catchment area

No need to convince you of the development of certain branches of law and the phenomenon of judiciarization of society.

There are simple market sizing techniques (“Market sizing”) that you can adapt to any branch of law. Thus, it is easy to estimate certain needs in personal law.  You don’t need to look at statistics to know that there is a demand for family law lawyers. If you wish, you can define the family law market (number of potential requests for a lawyer) by consulting public data such as the number of births, divorcities, etc. A lawyer specialized in defending victims of road accidents will also be able to quickly identify the number of annual accidents and potential victims.

As the lawyer’s work is far from being dematerialized, it is important to estimate your market according to your geographical area and to plan to adapt your offer to your environment.

Indeed, most of the time, the location of your firm will matter a lot: a business lawyer located outside of a large metropolis will logically not meet the clientele to which he aspires. On the other hand, if you wish to practice personal law, a location in a judicial desert will allow you to easily attract a local clientele.

If your main location does not allow you to capture a large enough market, the opening of a secondary office in a strategic location may prove to be judicious: close to the coast in maritime law, in a border region in international/European law, etc.

An offer that’s not too wide

In order to quickly become comfortable and emerge in the medium/long term, it is important to quickly devote yourself to a branch of law. In fact, the general practitioner risks being overwhelmed by his clientele and having to reinvent the wheel with each case.

In my opinion, the practice of more than 3 very different fields (as are: family, criminal, labor) risks melting you into the mass of lawyers of your bar. But above all, this will only allow you to acquire the reflexes necessary for the efficient handling of cases. Although it is customary to regularly consult a general practitioner who will refer you to a specialist, you will not be able to build up a clientele ready to consult you (on a paid basis) for every legal question. At best, you risk competing in vain with the legal assistance of your clients.

I encourage you to define your offer on the basis of the 26 specialties established by the National Council of Bars and Law Societies can be judicious and not too complicated.

nor too restricted

While it is important to make a relatively narrow offer in order to make it clear, one should not lock oneself into an overly narrow practice of law, especially at the beginning.

If you start out without a client base, it will probably be difficult to survive by focusing on only one subject. This may be because you do not have enough clients, or because of a lack of need (e.g.: in-laws law, joint litigation, assistance to defendants of Georgian nationality…) or, in niche areas, because the firm is not well known. In the latter case, a too limited offer seems incompatible with a small start-up structure, as niche law firms have been able to prosper thanks to sufficient experience (e.g. VAT, employee savings, agricultural companies…).

Once your offer has been sufficiently defined, the challenge is then to distribute it to your potential clients. In other words, to communicate well! This will be the subject of my next article.

About the author

avocat entrepreneur

Presentation and introduction of Master Chloé Schmidt-Sarels.

Graduated from CAPA in 2012, I did not want to practice as a lawyer at all. So I started my professional career as the legal manager of a start-up company.

After a very enriching experience, a need for autonomy and a certain nostalgia for public law led me to settle down as a liberal lawyer.

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[#SERIES] Profession: Entrepreneur lawyer #1

Profession: Lawyer and businessman – The definition of his offer – #1

On the occasion of a series of several articles, Maître Chloé Schmidt-Sarels, user of Jarvis Legal, tells us about her vision of the lawyer, an entrepreneur above all. 

avocat entrepreneur

Presentation and introduction of Master Chloé Schmidt-Sarels.

After graduating from CAPA in 2012, I did not want to practice as a lawyer at all. So I started my professional career as the legal manager of a start-up company.

After a very enriching experience, a need for autonomy and a certain nostalgia for public law led me to settle down as a liberal lawyer.

But what to do? Having never been through the collaboration box, I still had this crazy idea to set up my own account.

The few internships I had done during my studies in Paris were far from what I expected as a new lawyer in a city that could be described as a judicial desert and within a very small bar (100 lawyers, 300 times less than in Paris: another world!).

No experience, no clientele, no network: was I going to be one of those lawyers who hang up the dress after a year?

To get out of it, I had to get out the oars and adopt a sort of entrepreneurial approach.

Even if this is tending to change, I regret that the term “entrepreneur” is not necessarily in the DNA of our profession.

However, it seems to be one of the secrets to the success of our older brothers and sisters. This is how Corinne Lepage responded to a journalist who asked her if she should manage her law firm like a business leader, that she did not know “how those who do not do it do it”.

This sentence clicked in my mind and guided me a bit.

This is why I am happy to be able to share my experience as an entrepreneurial lawyer.

I am therefore proposing a series of articles that I hope will help you succeed in your installation, whether or not you have been a collaborator.

I will share with you my state of mind and my state of mind, the way I have defined my offer, the communication levers, the management tools that make my daily life easier and the way I manage the financial and administrative part.

Defining your offer, the first essential step

You’ll see, the clients will choose you”, “You’re going to have to take all the files that come in“, “You’re going to have to take all the files that come in”. These are the benevolent and/or worried comments that some of my colleagues have made to me.

In spite of my limited experience, I knew why I went to law school. I also knew what I couldn’t and especially didn’t want to do. It was out of the question for me to go into criminal, commercial, labour law.

I had not set up as an independent lawyer so that my clients could dictate my choices.

So I told myself that I would do everything to make sure that the cases I dealt with would suit me and that my activity would not be shaped by my clients but by me, in the service of my clients. So I decided, step by step.

The first questions to be asked are: “who am I and what drives me? what is my initial training? ».

Who am I? What drives me?

The idea of practicing in urban planning and environmental law quickly came to me.

Shortly before I moved to this small town located in a semi-rural area in the midst of massive urbanization, I had become very aware of the environment and had made a (nearly) zero waste shift in my daily life.

As lawyers, in all areas, we are lucky enough to be able to sometimes put ourselves at the service of causes (or people) that will give more meaning to our profession.

Each one of us necessarily has something that is close to our heart and that could give a particular color to at least part of our activity by allowing it to differentiate itself. By the way, this coherence is a good way to be happier every day and more efficient 🙂

What is my initial training? Do I need to deepen certain aspects?

Up to the master’s degree, we are all generalists. We specialize a little at the master’s level. Obviously, my training in general administrative law, followed 6 years earlier, would not be enough to allow me to practice in urban planning and environmental law.

As soon as I settled in, I therefore decided to train in rural law by taking a university degree and then to go further by taking a second master 2 in urban planning and environmental law.

These trainings gave me self-confidence, opened many doors and made me meet great people.

Differentiate yourself

A precise and specialized offer sets you apart. It will reassure you as much as it will reassure the customer.

The time of generalist lawyers is over. Increased competition and the growing technicality of many subjects simply no longer allow it.  Let’s not forget that the cases we accept involve our credibility and our responsibility towards the client.

Once the “dominant” for your firm’s activity has been defined, go further, detail it: by type of case (advisory or litigation), by type of client (companies, individuals, local authorities, associations…).

We are fortunate to be independent. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to choose the area that best suits us and that we are most interested in.

Of course, it will then be a question of making sure that your desire answers a request or a need! I will talk about it in my next article

Lawyer and telecommuting? Yes it is possible but not just anyhow!

Home-office and Lawyer, compatible and more if affinity.  

Until a few months ago, lawyer and telecommuting were not two words we thought we could associate. A lawyer works in his office, no matter how big or small, he is in the office. However, since March, the Covid crisis19 has brought to light a practice already in force among a majority of lawyers who were unknowingly teleworking, often handling their cases in the evening, on weekends or very early in the morning, from home, without any legal software to help them.

Teleworking, which is less constrained than in other professions, is now beginning to attract more and more lawyers, starting with the youngest among them. There are two reasons for this shift, which was already perceptible before March and even more so since then: a personal life that is already highly digitized; a more precarious personal/professional life balance.

According to a survey conducted by our teams this summer, 75% of the lawyers plan to start working in their firm in the coming months and for 25% of them for more than 2 days a week.

But, who says remote work, says adaptation of its work tools.

A laptop, of course, but also the use of new tools for communication and information sharing. Of course, tools for the general public already exist in this area: WhatsApp for rapid exchanges with customers, the use of drives to save and exchange documents, videoconferencing to compensate for the absence of face-to-face meetings (Zoom, Skype, etc.).

Yes, but what about data security and compliance with the RGPD regarding these tools accessible to all? Wouldn’t a tool specific to lawyers be more adapted and more secure? Wouldn’t a single “multi-tasking” tool be easier to use? Not to mention the time saved and the greater ease of organization and therefore management of working time?

The vision of telework by Jarvis Legal, legal software.

Jarvis has anticipated all of these issues in order to best support the profession and secure it in this new way of working. A new way of working from any location as if you were at your office.

How is it going to work? In the simplest way possible thanks to its full web solutions. Better. You can now also work locally without an internet connection thanks to the Jarvis box. As soon as you find a connection, all the data is synchronized with your cloud.

Finally, Jarvis is also a secure video conferencing tool to guarantee the confidentiality of your exchanges with your customers, making its offer a complete range of products and services that brings together all the uses of remote working in a single tool.

And because the human remains at the heart of our concerns, even more so in these times of “all dematerialized”, and because it is important for us to maintain a form of relational relationship at the heart of our business and yours, Jarvis is also and above all a team that remains at your disposal to accompany you in this new transition and way of working.

It is the use of all of its functionalities around a team at your service that makes Jarvis a pioneer of the virtual practice.

This is the “Jarvis” recipe for promoting personal and professional life balance, for limiting health risks and for saving time and reducing fatigue (travel, etc…).


Leaving the Liberal collaboration and settling down in 5 steps

The lawyer is increasingly mobile in his career and there are now as many practice methods as there are profiles of lawyers. While some choose to install individually, others prefer to create a structure with colleagues, if not with other regulated professions (as part of an EPS). Finally, other lawyers choose to pursue a career in a firm and, eventually, to claim the association.

If for a very long time the classic scheme was to “do his classes” for a few years in a firm, the new generation of lawyers who arrive on the market seems to want to emancipate themselves and settle down as a lawyer more quickly. However, it is necessary to ask the right questions before installing.

Anticipate your installation as soon as you collaborate

The installation anticipates and often involves a lifestyle change for a lawyer. Leaving a comfortable fee transfer is a risk that many lawyers fear, especially if they have not been able to develop their personal clientele within a firm.

In order to overcome this fear, it is necessary to prepare its installation since its collaboration. The aim must be to gradually detach oneself from the image of his firm and to assert his own identity and skills. Thus, the first step may be to create a clean website with own offers before settling down. This allows:

Build your offer and differentiate yourself

The arrival on the market of other players (legaltech, accounting experts, associations, etc.) requires lawyers to build a solid and differentiated offer before settling down. Indeed, the lawyer can no longer simply “lay down his plate” and put forward a classic legal expertise.

Formalize the needs of your customers and your target and build an offer that meets their expectations.

Instead of highlighting general legal expertise on your website (areas of law), try to package your services and problematize your areas of intervention according to the needs of your clients. Also, don’t hesitate to offer online services and automate low-value-added tasks in order to save time and be price competitive.

Finally, a firm can be as innovative in the ancillary services that the lawyer can offer to his client, for example:

Mobilize different communication levers

In order to sell its services, it is necessary to be identified and identifiable in the market. A communication strategy involves mobilizing different channels to showcase its expertise.  

– First of all, a minimalist approach is to register on a platform for connecting lawyers and clients. There are now about ten linking platforms, each with specific features. Some platforms charge the lawyer, others do not. Registration on a platform allows, at a minimum, to be referenced on the web and generate a few calls. Thus, the analysis of existing solutions on the market seems to be an indispensable first step in preparing its installation (in this sense, see the video “Find a (good) lawyer #1 (battle of legaltech)”).

– Then, it is necessary to have a proactive approach on social networks. These new media allow you to create a community (1), generate a lead base (2) and improve your SEO (3). The goal is to be identified as a specialist around one or more expertises. The first step is to analyze the behavior of its target (individuals, professionals, etc.) and register on the most relevant networks in order to reach them. If LinkedIn is the professional network of choice, we should not underestimate the strength of other networks like YouTube and Instagram. A proactive approach on networks involves publishing content very regularly, whether from the background (articles, infographics, videos) or storytelling (intervention at conferences in particular). Post at “peak times” in each network so that your publications have the most impact and feel free to collaborate with other professionals by tagging each other in each publication. Highlight your ecosystem and it will return it to you!

– Finally, don’t hesitate to offer free content to your community. The time invested in this process will validate your expertise and will be a product of appeal in order to offer your services. In order to have a return on investment, the proposed content must be quality (1), accessible (2) and innovative (3). First of all, your content must be legally supported because it is the basis of your credibility in the market. In addition, the content must be educational in order to be understood by all litigants (avoid “notwithstanding” and other legal legal turns). Finally, offer a format that goes off the beaten track. Many lawyers are exploring new formats such as legal design infographics (Kristina Lazatian), Podcasts (Elise Couintet) or even youtube videos (Arthur Sauzé). These formats will be better referenced than traditional articles. Offer to send your content to your community via a newsletter to build up a lead file.

Organize to work effectively

In the first months of installation, it is rare to have fixed and closed offices. Many lawyers choose to start working in coworking spaces dedicated to lawyers, partly with a colleague and generally multiply the trips. This mobility requires the lawyer to have access to his files and documents all the time while protecting his clients’ data. Thus, a private cloud solution with local replication is ideal for being autonomous, mobile, perfectly secure and non-internet dependent.

In addition, automating a number of low-value-added tasks (for example, billing) saves a considerable amount of time in case management.

Build customers and follow your matters

Generating customers and turnover is often painful a lawyer who settles down because this commercial dimension has not been envisaged at the University and the EFB.

The first step, once defined its positioning and established its business plan, is to rely on its network. Your personal and professional relationships are your first support and know many potential prospects. Help them, inform them, explain to them what you are proposing.

Also, a simple solution to generate customers is to outsource files. In fact, small structures often face an overload of files and are looking for young colleagues to outsource files. Outsourcing is a way to maintain a minimum level of remuneration, while benefiting from the flexibility of the installation. Such a solution limits the tedious phase of prospecting and directly has a few customers.

Above all, have a 360-degree view of your prospects and adopt an organized business strategy. Register all your prospects, communicate your offers and don’t hesitate to relaunch them.  Using SaaS business development solutions (e.g., Nomination) helps identify opportunities to connect with prospects that matter to you and engage the relationship. Once your first leads are converted into customers, follow them and catch up frequently to identify new needs.