First of all, what is it you are trying to manage?Advanced AIadvocate – whether working for a firm or self-employed – has to manage his business, i.e. register clients and their orders, arrange documents, track deadlines, etc. It's as simple as that.
In fact, the lightest “Practice Management system” is a daily planner and case binders.
But today it is the XXI century here. So here comes question number two.
What is Practice Management system exactly?
It is a set of means which allows arranging the work of a lawyer, a legal department, or a law firm. Ideally, nothing should be lost or forgotten, everything should be ready at hand and computer-controlled.
Systems like this can be divided into two large groups. Let’s call them “integrated” and “flexible”.
An integrated system is a kind of meta-program that tends to “absorb” all processes of a business. It is a kind of SAP for the legal sphere. Also, we love such a term as a Computer Work Station.
A flexible system is made of units that can be connected and share data when necessary.
There are arguments for and against both of these systems, but we won’t consider them because the choice is usually much easier – integrated systems are EXPENSIVE. They are complex and very cool. Besides, they usually require setup by a high-skilled specialist.
So, I will rather tell you how to create your work environment based on easy and familiar tools.
A Practice Management System based on common toolsHere is your list of ingredients:
1. A File Explorer. A standard one as in any Windows. Otherwise, it can be replaced by Google.Drive. It is used for neat document storage.
2. Google with Gmail and Calendar for e-mail handling. As well as a daily planner for calendar and time management.
3. А2.Time – for tracking time per client and contact storage, as well as for creating reports and project analytics.
4. Trello – for project management as well as lead and client relations management, if necessary.
5. Telegram – for internal communication regarding projects (it is especially useful if you have a team).
Document StorageSince you are reading this text on our site, I suppose you know everything about local files storage ))) So here is no technical information. If you are interested in this topic, write a comment. And I will make a separate post about the logic of document storage we use in А2.
Google.We are mainly interested in Google.Calendar. It is used for entering various events – from meetings with clients and trials to drawing contracts and consultations.
At this, it is not at all necessary to use Gmail.
Why Google? Because it is easily integrated with the applications we need.
Make sure to add your account to the calendar to your smartphone (it can be easily done through the calendar both in Android and iOS phones).
Thus, you can track time spent on work with clients, in any place and at any time by means of your smartphone without any additional apps.
А2.TimeHere you will track your clients and projects, form reports on the executed work and statistics.
In "Settings" switch on synchronization with Google and you will not need to copy all entries from the calendar: all the events will be automatically migrated unless they are marked as Private. You will only have to assign a client and a project to each event.
Trello.Trello is a very friendly system allowing us to arrange work on any project and track its stages. In fact, due to Trello integration, you get a complete system of project management.
Here are two important issues:
You can apply free Cronify utility to integrate Trello with the calendar. Setup is performed just in two clicks. A free trial is limited – you can add no more than one board at a time. Subscription for unlimited boards costs about $2/mo per user.
When you create a Trello card, it is supposed to have a due date – in this case, it will be automatically saved in the calendar.
TelegramIt has two functions. Firstly, it is a space for instant communication with your team members. I think it needs no comment.
Secondly, as it is easily integrated with Trello, you can set it up to receive Telegram reminders about card movement in a certain project. And it is very convenient that a certain board can be linked to a certain chat.
How it works?Now let us have a look at how you can manage a project using the described tools.
So, a client addresses you with an order to handle a case in court. Great!;
1. On a disk create a folder with the name of a client and put all received data there.
2. Create a card in Trello on the relevant "Courts" board, containing the client’s case and its description. Enter a date – for example, a date of the lawsuit.
3. A relevant entry appears in Google Calendar automatically.
4. A2.Time gets this entry from the calendar and adds to the time tracking system. After the client’s contacts and a project have been recorded, the relevant work executed and the time spent on handling the lawsuit can be linked to the project.
For example, if you have added a client to a relevant Telegram chat and assigned a special board for his project, the client will receive automatic Telegram messages about their case progress as you move cards.
Now you’ve got a flexible and powerful system, that allows you to arrange the work of a lawyer with a private practice or a reasonably sized law firm. And it requires no expenditure at all.
Finally, it is as simple as that. You have gone digital in no time.