If you are starting a law firm or have owned a law firm for any significant amount of time, you’ve probably considered using project management software to help make managing your law firm easier.
I know I have.
The hard thing is, when you look around, there are a ton of different options out there, and it’s difficult to know which is good and which is bad.
I can’t speak to all of the other options out there, but today I’m going to tell you not just what I use – insightly – but how I use it.
Law Firm Project Management Needs
There is one thing you need to know about me when it comes to technology – I hate using stuff build specifically for law firms.
I think it’s too complicated.
I think it’s too cumbersome.
And I think it’s designed with too many features – they are trying to be everything to everyone, and it doesn’t work.
So I look outside of the legal world for my technology, and that’s where I found insightly.
Insightly meets the three basic needs I have:
- Contact management;
- Lead management;
- Case management.
Here’s how I use it for each.
Law Firm Contact Management with Insightly
Contact management for me isn’t just about keeping people’s information up to date.
It’s about documenting each and every contact.
It’s about keeping detailed notes on their interests, family, and work.
It’s about making sure I am intentional about keeping in touch with the people that are important to my personal and professional life.
Insightly allows me to do that.
First, there is a space in each contact for all of your basic information.
Second, you can create custom questions that you can see within their basic profile information. I use this section to ask basic estate planning questions:
- Do you currently have a will?
- Are you married?
- Do you have kids?
- Do you have property out of state?
- What is your approximate net worth?
Third, I can tag all of my contacts with a tag that allows me to organize and quickly see at a glance certain people. These are the tags I use:
- Financial planner
- Family attorney
- Personal injury attorney
- Happy Hour
Fourth, and finally, there is a notes section and an easy email integration so I can keep everything that happens related to that contact a couple of mouse clicks away.
Law Firm Lead Management
I bet if you took the time to really look at how many leads you have come into your office that slip through the cracks it would blow your mind.
I know because I’ve started using insightly to track all of our leads and it’s mind blowing how many I would have forgotten if not for them being in the system.
For me, when a lead comes in, whether it is a referral from someone, a cold call, or anything else, it gets entered in the system as an opportunity.
Within opportunities we have four states:
A white opportunity is one that we’ve had no contact with yet. Our goal is to have as few white contacts as possible. They are just floating out there in the ether. We want a response.
A red contact has declined our help.
A yellow opportunity has made contact with us and set a meeting.
A green opportunity is one that has a fee agreement out waiting for it to be returned.
Can you see how easy this makes managing your leads?
We know every day we need to contact every white opportunity until we get in touch with that person to change it’s state.
We know every week we need to reach out to yellow and green opportunities to give them the nudge they need to sign up.
Once an opportunity signs up it becomes a project.
Law Firm Case Management
For me case management isn’t just about making sure a client’s documents get completed and signed. It’s about providing an amazing experience every time.
What I love about insightly is that it allows you to break up each project into stages, create specific tasks within each stage that can be assigned and given due dates based off of specific project dates, and then monitor the progress of the project as it moves from stage to stage.
Within our estate planning will project we have seven stages:
- New client experience
- Information sheet out
- Information sheet received
- Draft out
- Edits received
- Signing date set
- Client close out
The cool thing is within each of these stages we can create milestones for the work and we can also create milestones for the experience.
For example, once a new client enters the picture they immediately get a thank you card from me, put into an email drip thanking them and letting them know again what to expect, and a series of emails reminding them to fill out the info sheet and return it.
At the client close out stage we have a set of things we do to make sure they keep coming back to us forever and rave about us to their friends and family.
To conclude, choosing a law firm project management solution is a very individual decision. It must meet your needs specifically. Don’t be afraid to try a couple out to see what fits.
But, and this is a big but, understand that for your law firm project management system to work you are going to have to put some leg work in at the beginning to make it function the way you want and then you are going to have to be diligent about making sure that you are using it and everyone else is using it for as long as your firm is around.
P.S. – curious about what I do on a daily basis to create and build my successful law firm? Now you can find out first hand (and steal some of my secrets). It’s called the Law Firm Confidential Podcast, and you can get access to the first 5 episodes for free by clicking right here.
How I Use Insightly for Law Firm Project Management Transcript
Hey everybody this is Christopher Small and this is episode one thirty four of The Art of Lawyering podcast. As you can see we have actually made it back to two episodes in a week. A bit of a hiatus there. I think maybe two weeks. I was sick and I was sick I had a huge cold and then I was trying to catch up and I just didn’t have the time. A new baby you know I’ve got a hundred million excuses. If you want some more I can give to you but nevertheless we’re back. I am organized. I’m ahead of the curve. So we should be pumping these out at our regularly scheduled time from here on into the future. Another thing too is that I can tell you that I am planning on being a little bit more organized with these podcasts and what that means is I want to try to give you some really great information and some great ideas and insight and that means I’m going to come at you with a little bit more organization.
So that’s good for you. I really want to help you start and build your law firm. I wanna help you start and build your professional profile and business. What I mean by that is you know every attorney whether you believe this or not. You are your own business. You are your own law firm. You have the ability to generate your own leads. Generate your own clients with even if you are just an associate within your law firm. And the ability to do that creates a great deal of leverage and power for you in your firm or with your business. That’s what this is all about teaching you how to do that basically showing you what I’ve been doing to make it work myself. I can tell you, if you are not on my newsletter list you want to be there because I am pumping up all great content within there as well things I’m not sharing here. Things that you know, you might want to know. For example this week’s newsletter, I talked a little bit about a new kickboxing class that I’m taking and boxing at this legit like for real in my gym.
I never had any sort of combat training in my life. So it’s kind of crazy going in there. These dudes are like stone cold killers and I talk a little bit about their experience and what that means and why I’m doing it and how does my law firm and how it can help you too. So if you’re interested in getting on newsletter, you can just go to thartoflawyering.com/newsletter and you can sign up right there. One of the other interesting or cool things about that is that those are the people I’m going to let know when new opportunities arise for new training and we are about to start the third quarter of 2016. And my plan is to really ramp up the offerings on Law Firm Confidential to really ramp up the courses that I’m offering and if you want the inside scoop on those then you know you want to be on the newsletter. For example I’m just talking gosh, I shouldn’t even disclose this but you know with Law Firm Confidential, I’m planning on rolling out a sort of a new improved version. They’re going to be a brand new back in, like the new platform for all the content is going to be awesome super easy to get to and manage.
We have a Law Firm Confidential Podcast which is my daily podcast where I talk about what I’m doing today specifically to build my firm. It’s kind of a sneak peek into what it really takes to start a law firm. You know, because you know in this podcast all you get are the big brush strokes. You don’t get to see what the work that goes in into building a firm on a daily basis. You know the ups the downs, trials and tribulations. All that kind of stuff. I’m going to have a monthly office hour. Office hours where we can I was going to get on I can go hang out. You can pop in, ask me questions, we can chat, you can learn from everyone and that’s going to be fantastic and then we’re going to be releasing a, I’m going to be releasing a new course every quarter as I always have. These things are going to be super in depth you know, we’ve already got courses on Google ads, Facebook ads, networking and these things make people money.
Thousands and thousands of dollars which is great. We’ve also got a private Facebook group which is pretty amazing. It is the place that we go to ask up to the minute questions, get feedback from everyone on what’s going on or stumped. It’s a great place to go to get on stumped super fun. So you know that’s the newsletter, we’ll get you sort of inside scoop on our part. I talked about it here from time to time but what I can tell you is that if you’re in the newsletter you’re much more likely just to sort of get information when there’s a deal. You know or an opportunity that’s not going to talk about anywhere else. So go check it out. Okay now, enough about that. I wouldn’t put on talking about that but I’m really really excited about it. So, let’s talk about today’s content which is how I use Insightly for law firm project management.
If you’re starting a law firm or have owned a law firm for any significant amount of time. You’ve probably considered using project management software to help make managing your law firm easier. I know I have and I do. The hard thing about that though is that when you look around, there are a ton of different options out there and it’s difficult to know which is good and which is bad, right. And I can’t speak to all the other options out there but they’re going to tell you not just what I use in which is Insightly, I-N-S-I-G-H-T-L-Y you can go to insightly.com to check it out but I’m also going to talk about specifically how I use it, right. Which is I think sort of the holy grail. That’s everybody wants to know because there’s all these platforms out there. They all kind of suck and you know I’ve got some together that’s working for me well. So, I decided to choose Insightly because it meets a lot of my needs and there’s one thing that Insightly does or is that meets my number one need and that is that it’s not built specifically for law firms.
Okay, I hate using stuff, project management software technology that’s built for specifically for law firms. I think it’s usually too complicated. I think it’s almost always too cumbersome and I think it’s designed with too many features. You know they’re trying to be everything to everyone and that just doesn’t work. So I look outside of the legal world for my technology needs and that’s where I found Insightly. I can tell you I used Insightly for my other law firm Emerald City Law Group. I use it now though actually much differently than I used to there, and we’re gonna talk about that. Insightly meets the three basic needs that I have for my firm. Need number one is contact management. Need number two is leader management and lead in lead. And need number three is case management. Let’s talk about how I used unsightly for each one.
First, law firm contact management with Insightly. Contact management for me isn’t just about keeping people’s information up to date. It’s not just about collecting data points and addresses and phone numbers and birthdays and things like that. It’s about documenting each and every contact. It’s about keeping the deal notes on their interests, family, and work. It’s about making sure I am intentional about keeping in touch with the people that are important to my personal and professional life. Insightly allows me to do exactly that first there’s a space in each contact for all their basic information. You know name, address, email, you know birthday, things like that. Second, you can create custom questions that you can see within their basic profile information and I have created these questions and use this section to ask a basic estate planning questions. Things like, do you currently have a will. Are you married? Do you have kids? Do you have property out of state? What is your approximate net worth? Why did you visit? Why are you here?
You know what is what sort of what brought you here. These are the things that I want to know with every client that calls and so we have those set so we don’t forget what questions we need to ask. Third, I can tag all of my clients or all my contacts with a tag that allows me to organize and quickly see at a glance certain groups of people. Because on the tags I use, I think these are all, maybe all of the tags that are used and I think the key here is to try to keep the number of tags that you have to the essentials to really what you need to organize. So I have prospects. Prospects are any people that I am trying to create a network with these are people that I have reached out to and sent coffees with or sent e-mails to but we haven’t yet spoken, we haven’t yet made a connection. I’m not sure yet if they’re a good fit for me but I’m trying to track them down. Prospects I reach out to every week. That’s what their prospects so I can pull that list up and know that I need to be reaching out these people every week.
Financial planners I think it’s obvious who they are. And the reason I want those on there is because I’m trying to reach out to them at least once a month. These people in my network, in my database I want to make sure I’m reaching out saying hello once a month. Family law attorney, again, same thing when I try to reach out once a month. Personal injury attorneys, same thing once a month. These three people, these three groups of people are some of my major referral sources. Next, we have clients-potential. I think we know that means these are potential clients. And so they are people have called that have not yet signed up. We have client that is current right. These are people that we work, currently working on their cases, on their estate plans. And they have client closed. These are clients that have we finished with them, right. But we still would be able to see them and talk to them that kind of stuff.
The next tag I have is happy hour. So I do a monthly happy hour for my network and what I do is I tag all these people happy hour and that makes it easy for me to make sure that my e-mail list for the happy hour is up to date. It also makes it easy for me just to see who’s on the happy hour. And I can modify that if I need to. A database. Everybody in my contacts is a database. All my database except for prospects, all my contacts go into, all my database contacts go into my weekly e-mail newsletter. That’s critical. Whether you’re in the network, potential client, current client, anything it doesn’t matter as long as you’re not a prospect you go into the database. Pro newsletter. The pro newsletter is a different weekly email that I send out that goes more in the weeds. Legally it gets a little bit more in-depth and it’s meant to demonstrate expertise and analysis, thought leadership. This goes out to my network.
So my financial planners, my family law attorney, and my personal injury attorneys, I want them to believe and see that I have the expertise necessary or that they want to trust me with their clients. So those people get two newsletters a week. They get the pro newsletter and they get a database newsletter. They get the database newsletter because I want them to get experience and see what it’s like to be a client. Excuse me. In my firm. So I want them to see what their clients are saying every week as well. Last but not least, then we have family appreciation. Family appreciation is, I do I’m doing a family appreciation of it. So every quarter, I’m going to do a client appreciation event. One is going to be one quarter family oriented, one quarter non family oriented, which means like you know like a wine tasting or something like that. So I have that there for that and then the last tag that I have that I forgot to mention is members or subscribers. It’s going to be that have subscribed to my document storage slash membership.
I’m offering a bunch of different things with that. Maybe we’ll talk about that sometime soon but maybe talk about the next time give a more depth on that. And then fourth, there is actually a what’s really cool about this too is that there, you have the ability to sort of its connect other, you can connect contacts within each other and make it really easy to track all sorts of different stuff. So for example, if one of my financial planners refers me a client. I can connect to those two and show down below very quickly that you know Joe referred me Judy. I can see that down there. I can see that Joe is married to Frieda. You know I can see that Joe works out blah blah blah. And I can connect and then view people based on that kind of information. So I can connect a whole bunch of different people all together and then see all those connections at a glance which is really cool. And then fifth and finally there’s a notes section and an easy email integration. So I can keep everything that happens related to that contact a couple of mouse clicks away. This is important for me because I always want to make sure that I am not the only one that knows what’s going on in my law firm.
I want to make sure that if I hire somebody, they can start quickly. If I am injured and someone has to come over, come in and sort of help me for a little bit. That they can do that easily. They can get to speed with everything and see what’s going on and that allows me to do that. The same thing I like about Insightly is law firm lead management. I bet if you took the time to really look at how many leads you have come in your office that slip through the cracks. It would blow your mind. Think about those times that someone calls you and says hey I got this guy. You forget to write it down you never follow up. That’s I’m talking about here. I know that there’s a tremendous amount of leads that fall through the cracks because I started using Insightly to track all of our leads and it’s been crazy to me how many I would have forgotten. If not for them being in the systems. For me when a lead comes in where there’s a referral from someone on a cold call or anything else that gets entered into Insightly as an opportunity and within entirely, there are contacts, there are leads, opportunities and projects.
I like to call minor error in my leads as opportunities for a bunch of different reasons just because the way the software works but when some one becomes an opportunity there are four different states that they can be. They can be white, red, yellow, or green. A white opportunity is one that we’ve had no contact with yet. Our goal here is to have as few white contacts as possible. That’s because they are just floating out there in the ether. You know we want a response, we want to know what’s going on with them. A red contact has declined our help. A yellow opportunity has made contact with us and set a meeting. And then a green opportunity is one that has a free agreement out waiting for it to be returned. So can you see how easy this makes managing your leads. You know that every day we need to contact every white opportunity until we get in touch with that person to change their status to one of the other colors.
We know every week we need to reach out to yellow and green opportunities to give them the nudge they need to sign up with us. And then once an opportunity does sign up then they become a project. For me and this is the way a case manager comes into play. And for me case management isn’t just about making sure our clients’ documents get completed, are all compiled in the same way and place or like that. It’s about providing an amazing experience every time. What I love about Insightly is they allows you to break up each project into stages. Create specific tasks, within each stage that can be assigned in a given due dates. Based off of specific project dates and then monitor the progress of the project as it moves from stage to stage. Within our estate planning will project, we have different projects depending on what people are signing up for. So we have like, we have a will project. We have a trust project. We have a land trust project because of these things are all different.
We have sort of your basic LLC. Sort of real estate project only a few as soon as things that come in foregoing. Within our state planning will project, we have seven stages. First we have the new client experience. Second we have the information sheet out. Third information sheet received. Fourth draft out. Fifth that it’s received. Five signing, or Six signing date set and seven client close out. The cool thing is that within each of these stages we can create milestones for the work and we can also create milestones for the experience. For example once a new client enters the picture. They immediately give thank you card from me. They get put into an e-mail drip thanking them and letting them know again what to expect and then they’re put on to a series of emails reminding them to fill out the info sheet and return it.
This is great and it helps expedite the process and helps keep us in touch with the client. It helps us just move things along. It’s fantastic. It also reminds me to do these things that I may forget about, right. So seem to think you know for the client or signing up. You know welcome to our firm. We’re so excited to help you. We’re honored that you chose us. That goes a long way. Because you know one of the things that you want to combat is that, that new client let down. You know this is like after you buy a car. You take it home a day or two later. You get that adrenaline is gone, the endorphins are gone you need something to take you back up and push through that you made the right choice. At the client close out stage then we have a set of things that we do to make sure they keep coming back to us forever and rave about us to their friends and family. To conclude choosing a law firm project management solution is a very individual decision. Okay, don’t just go choosing Insightly because I did. You know, it must meet your needs specifically. Don’t be afraid to try out a couple to see what fits. I can tell you I’ve tried Insightly. I’ve tried Asana. I’ve tried Trello. I’ve tried Highrise. I have tried Cleo I believe. I’ve tried a whole bunch of different ones.
To get here and the key really is to do before you even try these things out to take a step back and think about what your needs are. But and this is a big but, I understand that for your law firm project management system to work. You’re going to have some, to put some legwork in the beginning to make it function the way you want and then you’re going to have to be diligent about making sure that you are using it and everyone else is using it for as long as your firm is around, right. It’s going to take making sure that when people don’t check their tasks off or they don’t remember to blind copy. In e-mail to unsightly or put a note in or follow up with a white contact that they do that kind of stuff. You have to be diligent about that forever until it becomes habit for everyone and just flows. So that’s it for today, right. Hope this one was action packed like I said I’m taking more time here to put together things that work for you. With the twenty minute mark and I think it’s probably just about perfect. So enjoy the rest your week, hit this weekend hard and don’t forget to go sign up for the newsletter if you want theartoflawyering.com/newsletter catch you later.