Manage client data
ContactsLaw places client data at your fingertips; easily searchable and comprehensive. Any staff member can create a contact and other members can easily add or update the detail for a contact. From the summary page for a contact – and from anywhere else you see a contact within the application – it’s easy to navigate to related contacts.
Among the contact information captured by the system is:
- Name, aliases and registered business details
- Gender, industry/position
- Prospect information and referral details
- Addresses and correspondence preferences
- Telephone, fax, e-mail and website details
- Identification records
- Financial details and payment preferences
- Relationships to other contacts
- Free-form notes and user-definable tags
In addition, you can catalogue documents against a contact, further adding to the firm’s shared knowledge about them. At a glance, you can view activities recorded against the contact, list financial transactions and see the value of business for a contact. For clients, you can review the status of their matter(s) and use these lists to quickly navigate to files.
Searching for contacts is both simple and powerful; you can perform a complete or partial name match, all the way up to an advanced search by location, workgroup, or even their relationship to another known contact.
Paperless file management
An electronic file in ContactsLaw provides you with everything you need to effectively manage the matter:
- Register of parties and roles – Links to the client(s), other parties (and their representatives), as well as third parties you deal with on a regular basis. You can assign a role to each party for the purpose of building documents; you can draw upon any detail from the associated contacts.
- Members and permissions – Control which members are responsible for the supervision and day-to-day management of the file. You can restrict access to the file – or to specific functionality – via file permissions.
- Billing options and cost estimate – By default, a new file inherits the billing policy from its workgroup; however, you can tweak the options to represent any special billing arrangement. By adding legal products and selecting from predefined disbursements, you can quickly build a cost estimate.
- Distribution list – It’s easy to keep colleagues, the client and other contacts informed of developments with the matter. By configuring a distribution list for the file, you can effortlessly copy incoming correspondence to interested parties.
- Workgroup fields – ContactsLaw captures a sensible set of details common to all matters, and you can further extend this by defining fields for specific areas of law. As well as modelling the file’s ‘vital statistics’, these can be drawn upon when building documents.
- Tasks – With ease, you can see a list of all current, complete and future-dated tasks for the file. It functions as both a snapshot of the status of the matter and a to-do list. You can manage your own workload as well as monitoring the status of tasks you delegate.
- Activities – As time and fixed charges are recorded on the file, ContactsLaw builds the list of activities; with this, you can see the value of work performed and review all charges prior to billing. You can also assign records to a particular legal product to facilitate fixed-price billing.
- Documents – Any documents registered to or created on the file are accessible electronically, arranged in folders which approximate to a paper file. Full-text search functionality allows you to quickly locate any document on the file.
- Ledgers – All financial activity on the file is summarised on simple, easy-to-use screens; trust and debtor activity, disbursements, bad debts and transit cheques. From here, you can easily see trust and debtor balances, bill the file or produce a bill of costs.
All activities you perform on a file in ContactsLaw add to its comprehensive electronic record, freeing you from the reliance on paper and making it much easier to locate and share information.
Time management made easy
ContactsLaw helps you manage and record your time through tasks and journals.
From your personal task list, you can see exactly what work needs to be done, in what context it is and how it should be prioritised. The preview pane summarises the contacts, files and/or documents involved in the task, its status, start and finish dates, as well as any remarks made by the sender. You can arrange your tasks by priority or due date, filter by urgency or origin and group according to a range of criteria. Double-clicking a task takes you straight into the action, starting (or resuming) the relevant activity. Should you need to query a particular task, you don’t have to leave your desk or even touch your telephone’s keypad.
When performing any activity that your practice dictates should be time-recorded, ContactsLaw starts a journal. There’s no need to fill out timesheets; ContactsLaw knows which activity you’re performing, when you started it and (in most cases) when you finished it. If the activity pertains to a particular contact, file, document or accounting transaction, the journal also records this. You can make notes and annotate the entry by adding other information specific to the activity (venue, court, proceedings, etc). With a compatible digital telephone system, ContactsLaw even journals your telephone calls. ContactsLaw encourages and facilitates collaboration between members, allowing one journal to record time for multiple members (as in a conference), or to transfer time to another member (when a telephone call is transferred). You can also start journals manually, ensuring that every minute of billable time is captured.
As you work through tasks, you can visit your personal activitieslist to review the journals and fixed charges posted during your day. From here, you can amend entries, allocate records to files and correct mistakes. It’s easy to identify gaps in your day and evaluate your time management. Extensive performance reports further facilitate your time management, allowing you to set targets and track statistics for your key performance indicators (KPI) over time.
Supervise without leaving your desk
ContactsLaw models the relationships between yourself and the staff you supervise, enabling your supervision of their activities and performance, as well as facilitating your management of their tasks.
Just as you use your portal to obtain a personalised view of the system, you can also use it to view tasks, activities, files and performance from the perspective of members you supervise. This is an invaluable management tool, as it allows you to both monitor and intervene. You have implicit permission to complete tasks belonging to your subordinates, and to delegate any of your own tasks to them. You can set their performance targets and track their progress over time.
You can use workflows to introduce check/review steps into activities, in which junior staff must submit documents or other records for acceptance before they are sent or committed to the system. This is particularly useful for training new staff; when you are satisfied with the quality of their output, you can relax the constraints.
Manage a workgroup
Management and reporting features at a workgroup level empower team members to take charge of specific areas of law. As a workgroup manager using ContactsLaw, you have access to all the file and document management, billing, CRM and performance reporting features available at the practice level, scoped to your workgroup.
For the files in a given workgroup, you can control policies in relation to billing, document distribution and information capture. You can easily list your active, prospective and former clients, create independent contact lists and mass mail-outs, and evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns within the workgroup. You can manage the document types and templates available to the workgroup without the need to have wider management responsibility. You can control permissions for the management of the workgroup and its files to facilitate delegation and collaboration. Mostly importantly of all, you can view and analyse detailed performance reports for your workgroup; evaluating the effectiveness of your management, tracking progress towards goals and supporting transparency in your firm.
Get your bills done quickly
With ContactsLaw, it’s quick and easy to bill your files. It’s easy to identify when files should be billed, through overview and billing lists. ContactsLaw’s time recording and cost recovery features ensure that all data required to produce a bill is available ahead of time, greatly reducing the work involved in billing itself. ContactsLaw’s powerful, streamlined, intelligent bill composer strikes the right balance between speed and functionality.
The bill composer fully supports both timed-costed and fixed-priced billing methods. If the time and charges recorded on the file have been assigned to products – or if products have been included in a quote – they will appear on the draft bill, along with the corresponding quantity and charge. You can drill down to tweak each member’s portion of the total, mark values up or down or apply a discount (unconditional or time-dependant). With ContactsLaw’s convenient trust transfer feature, you can initiate the process of drawing upon funds held on trust in order to pay the new bill; the pending transfer even appears on the bill you issue to the client. Depending upon the configured workflow, you can send the draft bill to a supervisor or finalise it yourself. Naturally, ContactsLaw takes care of all trust and general ledger transactions for you.
Register incoming documents and emails
ContactsLaw places responsibility for the registration of documents and e-mails on the members who receive them. The process for registering a document is so simple and intuitive that anyone can do it. All you need do is identify the relevant matter and the type of document being registered. Once uploaded to the document library, the cataloguing workflow is started for each incoming document; you can perform this yourself or delegate the task to another staff member.
The cataloguing process is tailored to the type of the document and captures the relevant dates, contacts and other descriptive information accordingly. During cataloguing you can decide whether to distribute the document to the members and contacts on the distribution list. The distribution activity is, in itself, quick and easy to complete.
As documents are registered to the file, they appear on its documents tab in folders that approximate a traditional paper file. The benefits of storing your documents electronically are clear; they’re easy to locate, searchable, distributable and you save vast amounts of paper by not keeping them in hard copy form.
Create beautiful documents on time
ContactsLaw demolishes the traditional, time-wasting approach to producing documents; where lawyers would endless time dictating, and secretarial staff would mindlessly tap out the same documents over and over again. Automation is the key to consistency, quality and efficiency; and ContactsLaw supports all of these goals through its dynamic document templates.
When lawyers and workgroup managers take the time to analyse the documents they produce, identifying the contact roles, details, figures and which passages of text are common in all instances, ContactsLaw makes it easy to build a template that can be reused time and time again by your firm. With dynamic fields and intelligent formatting rules, templates can adapt to the details fed into them during document creation; eliminating the need to re-type information and dramatically reducing the risk of error.
The move from manual document production to automation is one that carries significant benefits. You save on time and effort, and build on the knowledge and experience of the entire firm. Document templates also make a strong case to transition to fixed-price billing, since they allow you to produce high-quality output with minimal effort.
Send quotes and cost agreements
Whether your firm adopts fixed-price billing or not, there is great value in distilling your legal services into discrete products for the purpose of building quotes and cost estimates. Once you’re able to quantify your services in terms of specific deliverables, you can begin to estimate their value. Naturally, you can analyse your past billing performance to develop your prices.
Building a cost estimate in ContactsLaw is easy; you simply select from the available products, building a list of legal services. You can set quantities and override the default charges to tailor the estimate to the client’s particular circumstances. Any disbursements likely to be incurred can be added to the cost estimate as well. When complete, you can send the estimate to the client or choose to bill your services upfront.
ContactsLaw even lets you further automate the process, by offering pro-forma cost estimates in template form. Workgroup managers can define a set of likely products and disbursements for a particular situation, allowing members to populate the cost estimate on a new file with a single click.
Keep track of personal information
In addition to the vast array of features ContactsLaw offers for managing your files, staff and workgroups, you also have a range of tools to help you manage yourself; including your personal member profile, payroll details and professional development.
There’s no need to fill in forms when you change your address, get married or are admitted to the profession; ContactsLaw empowers you to maintain and update your own personal information via your electronic member profile.
ContactsLaw encourages transparency by giving you access to your payroll records, and allowing you to lodge electronic leave applications, re-print past payslips and review your superannuation activity. By putting this information at your fingertips, ContactsLaw helps to reduce disputes and eliminate inefficient internal paperwork.
Acknowledging the requirement for all practising lawyers to keep track of their professional development activities, ContactsLaw provides a register for CPD entries. As well as keeping record of the seminars and events you attend, it displays your requirements and can be used as a calendar for upcoming events as well.