Some 2018 Predictions That Matter to You
Welcome to this month’s issue of inVOICE. These “5-minute reads,” brought to you by InvoicePrep, are short, informational executive briefs designed for law firm executives and managing partners. They provide practical tips and provoke new ideas to make your management of your Firm more effective. (For our prior newsletters please visit us here).
Last month we talked about how doing nothing does nothing to enhance your brand, either as an attorney or as a firm. We shared a story relayed to us by an insurance claims executive about an attorney who suffered from high invoice adjustment rates, and how the frustration of that executive carried over to the much better performing attorneys who also do work for that company.
We suggested that the beginning of the New Year was the perfect time to make a resolution to do something to improve the billing process. Even small things make a big difference, as our story showed.
This Month – Some Big Predictions for 2018
Well, we are now in January and the holidays are becoming a distant memory. This is usually about the time of year when the legal industry is buzzing with big predictions for the future and this year is no different.
In that vein, I read a good summary of 10 big predictions for the legal industry, written by Zach Warren, the editor in chief of Legaltech News. It summarized some concise predictions for 2018 from some of the industry’s big thinkers.
Three of them really caught my eye. Let me share them with you. First, James Beckett, the CEO of Qualmet, predicts that, for the first time, “the status quo will forever be altered” because buyers of legal services will have access to meaningful, comparative and lawyer performance data, allowing side-by-side comparisons. The results, he predicts, will upend the status quo.
A second prediction I agreed with was made by John Tredennick, CEO of Catalyst Repository Systems. He suggests that lawyers and law firms will begin to harness the power of big data and machine learning algorithms to make their organizations run more efficiently. AI and data analytics, he predicts, will “move from alt to mainstream in 2018.”
Lastly, there was a third prediction that caught my eye. Darell Mervau, President of FileTrail, predicts that “the market will see new tools that integrate outside counsel guidelines into matter management…” something I’ll speak to briefly in my recommendations below.
What Does This All Mean To You?
When we step back a bit, these predictions may not seem all that new or even earth shattering. The world has been predicting more analytics, more measurement, and generally more “objective” analysis of the “subjective art” of practicing law for what seems like a long time.
However, it is worth noting that these predictions aren’t about what’s “coming down the road” or on the horizon; these predictions are about what’s going to happen in 2018. In the next 12 months! There is a sense of urgency to this that is mirrored in what our law firm customers are telling us. It’s here!
So, big picture, what does this mean? I suspect about half the audience reads those predictions and thinks only of how clients are going to use more technology to control and limit how the firm practices. I see it somewhat differently.
While there is a certain element of client “control” that is enabled by AI and machine learning technology, there is also a tremendous opportunity for law firms and their own operations. When you boil down all the words and serve up the ideas on a platter these predictions are about law firms using technology to gain more efficiencies and achieve greater profitability.
Law firms are just as capable of using these algorithms to be more efficient and to get paid more as clients are in using technology to “oversee” the services firms provide. But to leverage these emerging technologies law firms need to gather data, and lots of it.
If you do nothing else with this short newsletter, take a moment to watch the video on YouTube called “How Machines Learn.” It has almost two million views now and explains about as well as I’ve seen what machine learning is, what algorithmic bots are, and why algorithms need lots of data to work. (And if you watch it, you’ll know more about machine learning then both your colleagues and your clients – and that has some value in its own right!)
My Suggestions for What You Should Do in 2018
My suggestion to you, given our focus on improving law firm billing operations and given these predictions for 2018, is to do three simple things:
- Think about your billing processes and about each step within them. Consider how you can use AI upstream so your clients’ billing guidelines are closer to your attorneys who are making final edits before invoices go out. This adds efficiency, improves compliance and results in a higher quality final invoice.
- Acknowledge any challenges that you’re having with your current process. Acknowledge that you may not be capturing the data points needed to do the kinds of analysis that your clients want your firm to be doing. It’s really not that hard if you know what you’re doing or if you hire the right expertise to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
- Imagine your firm taking advantage of AI, machine learning, and data capture to move your firm to the next level. You can do this! Imagine getting paid more for what you do, faster.
We know this is possible. After all, we use AI and machine learning every day. We work with data too, ultimately helping our customers get better results for both the firm and their clients.
What do you think? Please let me know.
InvoicePrep enhances law firm profitability by improving e-billing quality and accuracy. When invoices are prepared properly, payment is more prompt and the number of denied charges decreases. InvoicePrep’s system is streamlined, efficient and uses a combination of cutting-edge technology and professionals with extensive legal invoice compliance and e-billing software knowledge. To learn more about InvoicePrep, please visit www.invoiceprep.com