Best Practices

Starting Your Own Law Firm in 2021: What Do You Need?

Amy Mann
Amy Mann
March 3, 2021

Either as a New Year’s resolution or in response to the ever-changing legal landscape, many attorneys have made the decision to start their own law practice in 2021.

If you are launching your own law practice in 2021, you should familiarize yourself with the systems and software you should have in place to help your firm run smoothly and ensure an ideal client experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss three categories of systems you should consider obtaining as you begin the process of starting your own law firm:

  • Practice management software
  • Answering and intake services
  • Payment processing solution

Practice Management Software

Practice management software solutions can prove critical for the busy new solo practitioner or small law firm. This technology makes it easy for you and your practice to keep your client data in one centralized location and provides significant advantages to your practice.

Practice management software can increase efficiency when you have multiple individuals working together on a case, reduce risks of misplaced documents or information, and improve client satisfaction.

A good case management solution should have several features, including:

  • Matter tracking and management, including the ability to share documents and data between different matters for the same client
  • Up-to-date forms and document templates
  • Ability to create custom checklists
  • Secure communication and file-sharing within your practice and with clients
  • Time tracking
  • Calendaring and scheduling
  • Email monitoring
  • Easy access to legal research and case law
  • Legal practice guides

Many practice management solutions are web-based/cloud-based platforms, which means they are constantly updated in response to frequently changing ethical and legal requirements for client communications and storing of client data.

Legal Intake and Answering Services

Although not every law firm will need specialized legal intake and answering services, if you’re starting your own law firm these services can offer great time-savings and improve your new practice’s professional image.

Some service providers offer only answering of client communications, while some of the more advanced services can also complete new client intake for you as well. These providers can tailor how they handle call answering and client intake based on your criteria and preferences.

The benefits of these services include:

  • Ensuring that any phone calls your practice receives are answered by a live human
  • Collecting all necessary information for you to call back when you cannot answer the phone
  • Performing the intake process for prospective clients so that you can focus on legal work

For a new law firm, outsourcing call answering and client intake will almost certainly prove more cost-effective than hiring receptionists, legal secretaries, or paralegals to perform this work. Having these services can also improve your ability to retain clients and improve your clients’ satisfaction because your clients always talk to a human every time they contact your firm.

Many legal intake and answering services can also provide multilingual representatives, which is useful if you intend to market yourself to prospective clients who may have difficulty communicating in English.

Payment Processing Solution

Many legal clients want the option of being able to pay their lawyer’s invoices electronically, especially if they need to use a credit card in order to afford to pay an attorney to handle their case. Consequently, if you’re planning on starting your own law firm in 2021, you should consider the adoption of electronic payment processing solutions.

Having an electronic payment processing option also helps law practices maximize the collection of their fees since electronic payments eliminate the risk of a client losing paper invoices as well as the risk of paper checks getting lost in the mail or in the paper shuffle at your office.

Electronic payment processing allows you to immediately invoice your clients and provide them with regular reminders of outstanding invoices. Clients can also immediately make payment on your invoice upon receipt so that there’s never any delay between performing work for a client, billing out for that work, and getting paid.

An effective payment processing solution should integrate seamlessly with your case management, timekeeping, billing, and bookkeeping solutions. That way, you can ensure that you are regularly invoicing for the work you perform for clients and that no billable work slips through the cracks to go unpaid.

Good payment processing solutions for law firms should also facilitate trust accounting compliance, if necessary, such as providing the ability to funnel client payments between operating accounts and client trust accounts as necessary.

As payments are made, the relevant information should automatically transfer among your case management, invoicing, and bookkeeping software solutions so that you don’t have to spend time logging into multiple different platforms or reconciling records to make sure you’ve been fully paid for the work you have done.

LawPay Can Help

No matter what systems and software you may have for your client intake, case management, timekeeping, and billing, LawPay can help ensure that you get paid for the work that you do.

LawPay offers direct integration of our payment processing technology with many of the most popular practice management, timekeeping and billing, and cloud-based legal solutions. (For a complete list of our available integrations, visit our Integration Partners page.)

If you are starting your own law firm in 2021, contact LawPay to speak with one of our representatives about how our payment processing solution can plug in with your new law firm’s practice software and cloud-based services. Let us help ensure that you get paid for your work.