Automate Client Communications and Workflows
March 19, 2021
Today's TechnoLawyer Buyer's Guide report covers a browser-based, customizable practice management system with a deep set of features, including automated client intake and case workflows.
Automate Client Communications and Workflows in Your Law Firm
This decade has brought with it two converging trends in practice management software — automation and practice area specialization. The better software fits your needs out of the box, the more it automates your workflows, and the more customization it offers as your firm grows, the less time you'll spend adding missing functionality with third-party products — or regretting that you cannot.
SmartAdvocate in One Sentence
SmartAdvocate is a browser-based, customizable practice management system with a deep set of features, including automated client intake and case workflows.
The Killer Feature
A wide variety of law firms use SmartAdvocate but it's especially popular among personal injury, class action, and other law firms with high-volume practices. These firms require automation or their business models don't work.
SmartAdvocate has two marquee automation features that attract these firms — Automated Procedures and WorkPlans. These tools ensure consistent handling of each stage of a case.
WorkPlans consist of all the deadlines and tasks involved in a case. They can calculate dates to trigger the next step, and feature yes/no decision trees with alternative branches depending how a case unfolds. "Teams no longer spend time figuring out what needs to be done by whom," says SmartAdvocate Chief Technology Officer Igor Selizhuk.
As its name suggests, Automated Procedures automates routine tasks and sets of tasks. For example, receiving a signed retainer can trigger a welcome letter, email, or text message, as well as automatically generate a task to an assigned staff person to follow up.
"Automated Procedures and WorkPlans provide the automation and peace of mind that law firms have always wanted," says Selizhuk. "Less time spent on administrative overhead and no missed deadlines lets lawyers focus on actual legal work."
WorkPlans in SmartAdvocate ensures consistent handling of each case without the need for meetings. Tasks are assigned to the right person and some tasks are even automated.
Other Notable Features
SmartAdvocate may have the deepest feature set in the practice management space. For anything not in SmartAdvocate, more than 100 integrations leverage the legal technology ecosystem.
The company was one of the first to understand the importance of tracking prospects before they become clients. SmartAdvocate includes marketing and client intake tools such as lead referral tracking, lead capture from your website, and a case wizard for capturing incoming calls from prospects for evaluation. With Automated Procedures, SmartAdvocate can auto-send email and text messaging based on specified triggers.
Because law firms frequently create the same documents, email, text messages, and tasks repeatedly, SmartAdvocate includes a document assembly system comprised of custom templates with thousands of merge code possibilities (any default or custom field) and e-signature functionality. These templates support Word, Excel, and PDF formats.
Alongside document assembly, SmartAdvocate also includes document management with custom folders, global searching, and tools for document capture. Among these tools, each case in SmartAdvocate has its own barcode for automatically saving scanned documents into the correct case file. Another such tool is the Microsoft Outlook add-in for saving email into case files.
My SmartAdvocate is a customizable dashboard that lists your cases, tasks, appointments, critical deadlines as well as tasks you've assigned to others. SmartAdvocate has many other built-in reports and dashboards to help track critical case information. For example, the medical records dashboard lets you know the status of each request. The company can create additional reports and dashboards for your firm if needed.
"Support, support, support!" says Stephen T. Collins, principal of Collins Law. "You can actually get a person on the phone to assist and not have to use a chat box that takes 10 minutes for a response. They also email me back quickly."
What Else Should You Know?
Your firm can host SmartAdvocate on your own server in the cloud. Free iOS and Android apps facilitate mobile access. The Client Portal lets you securely communicate with clients and share documents, including uploads by your clients that immediately become available in their case file in SmartAdvocate.
Take a Closer Look at SmartAdvocate
Meet Neil J. Squillante
Neil J. Squillante is the founder and publisher of TechnoLawyer, an award-winning network of free email newsletters for lawyers and law office administrators. Many consider TechnoLawyer newsletters the only ones they need. A Fastcase 50 award winner, Neil has a long track record of inventing successful advertising and publishing technologies and related best practices. Previously, Neil practiced commercial litigation at Am Law 100 firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law and his B.A. from Duke University. At UCLA, Neil served as a Managing Editor of UCLA Law Review.
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