Discover how the evolution of client communication software has transformed the legal industry, and learn how combining VineConnect with Filevine can enhance client communications, automate processes, and streamline workflows for law firms.
In a legal practice, effective client communication is essential for building trust and maintaining strong relationships. With the advancement of technology, client communication in the legal industry has evolved significantly, paving the way for new and improved methods of interaction between attorneys and their clients. In this blog post, we will explore the evolution of client communications in software, how it applies to the legal industry, and how leveraging various client portals with Filevine can greatly benefit law firms, creating efficiencies in workflows while saving precious time, staff resources, and ultimately, money.
The Evolution of Client Communications in Software
Over the years, client communications have undergone a significant transformation, particularly with the advent of software technology. Initially, communication between law firms and their clients primarily relied on traditional channels, such as phone calls, faxes, and face-to-face meetings. However, as technology advanced and the need for more efficient communication channels grew, software developers began creating solutions to address these needs.
Look no further than the advent of digital signature collection tools, like Vinesign, or the powerful process automation of intake and lead management offered by Lead Docket, and you’ll quickly come to realize that indeed, software has changed how your law firm acquires, manages, and processes your work with your clients.
One significant milestone in the evolution of client communication software was the introduction of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which helped businesses manage client interactions more effectively. These tools enabled businesses to store and track client information, streamline communication processes, and maintain a centralized database for easier access to client data.
As CRM systems evolved, they began to incorporate more advanced features, such as email and text messaging integration, document sharing, and task management. Enter Filevine.
Today, many industries, including the legal sector, have adopted various forms of client communication software to improve the quality and efficiency of their interactions with clients, and it’s only made possible by robust case management tools with open APIs (“Application Programming Interface”) like Filevine.
Client Communications in the Legal Industry
Effective communication plays a vital role in managing clients' expectations and providing them with timely updates about their cases. Lawyers need to share essential information, such as case progress, legal documents, and other critical updates, with their clients regularly. However, traditional communication channels can be time-consuming and inefficient, leading to delays, miscommunication, and, in some cases, client dissatisfaction.
To address these challenges, law firms have started adopting client communication software specifically designed for the legal industry.
These tools allow lawyers to communicate with their clients through secure, user-friendly platforms that streamline interactions, automate routine tasks, and provide clients with real-time access to case information.
Undoubtedly, the best solutions are from third-party vendors and solutions specialists, who are experts in the core software their platforms run on, like Vinetegrate®. I’ve spent years working in law firms and being disappointed with other client portal solutions. They claim to integrate with Filevine, but don’t beyond a very basic surface level — and they either require your firm’s clients to download a mobile app or force your staff to work out of their system instead of Filevine. That was all I needed to strike out on my own to create a better client portal and automation solution for Filevine.
6 Must-Have Features for Communication Automation Software
Some of the most important consideration to think about if you’re considering a client portal solution for Filevine are the following:
Any software you use must provide a secure environment for clients to access their case information. To reduce the risk of a data breach, look for two-factor authentication (2FA) and other security measures, including leveraging the API to transmit PII (personal identifiable information) instead of storing it in third-party servers. The best applications will be secured by global security standards, such as those offered by Amazon Web Services, and include modern web browser encryption and a IP-verified administrative backend lockdown.
2. A Deeper Level of Integration
When a client portal application “integrates” with many case management software platforms, does it ever really integrate with any of them? That’s the question I constantly ask myself, which is why my product team and I are wholly and solely focused on building VineConnect for Filevine only. Our “deep integration” means we can share specific data points as variables from case to case to offer a more customized experience – and because we don’t store data but rather fetch it from Filevine in real time when your client logs in, we can truly say our solution is “in real time”.
Look for an API that listens to actions and events that your staff takes while working in Filevine and executes automated tasks and actions based on what’s happening in the project in real time. You’ll get the greatest efficiencies if your app, like VineConnect, can update your client data in real time when contact information changes, like when your client uses a new email address or gets a new phone number. That’s deep integration that other solutions that are not exclusive to Filevine simply cannot offer.
Your clients can stay informed about their case progress and what to expect by interacting with rich media, content, videos, infographics, and documents that you provide through VineConnect's real-time client portal. The result is a high adoption and engagement rate among your clients, a severe reduction in the client’s need for frequent phone calls and emails, and your staff gets to stay within the Filevine environment without interruption, focusing on the critical aspects of case management.
3. Document Sharing That Syncs to Project Sections
Clients should be able to easily access documents shared by your firm to stay informed and updated on proof of your legal work as their case develops. Look for applications that can securely collect and share Filevine project documents, such as contracts, agreements, and court filings, within the client portal. You should be able to automate tasks within Filevine based on certain documents being uploaded by your clients. It’s best if you can route uploaded documents not just to the Docs root folder, but to specific doc upload fields within your project sections. Finally, use software that allows you to create a collection item based on specific doc uploads and add doc hashtags.
4. Customizable Communication Templates
Customized communication templates make it easier to send personalized and relevant updates to clients. This feature helps maintain consistent communication and ensures that clients receive the information they need based on the type of case or project type. That means you can automate texts based on specific scenarios, whether it be phase change, task completion, team changes, or collection section creation.
Further, look for the ability to mass text message to contacts in your Filevine Org or from a spreadsheet you provide, like you can with VineConnect. Banner Messaging allows you to deliver a custom message to all clients who log into the portal.
Concerned about compliance with Federal laws governing SMS messaging? Make sure that your software complies with Federal laws and guidelines as published by the FTC, including disclaimers of opt-out and blackout periods that are active between 9p and 9a in all time zones.
5. Filevine Forms
Collect pertinent data not just in the beginning of the case, but throughout the life of the case. Need to collect specific information from your client based on things like type of case, stage of case, or new information you receive? Look for solutions that automate not just the data collection itself, but how and to where the data syncs in Filevine once collected. With support for all custom data fields in the Filevine project template, including the ability to create collection items, you can greatly reduce the effort, time, and resources inherent in manual staff data entry.
6. Workflow Automation
By automating common and repeatable actions, VineConnect helps law firms streamline their staff’s workflows within Filevine. Offering pre-set triggers and action in a no-code, drag-and-drop style environment, you can automate phase changes, section visibilities, collection item actions, create notes, trigger automated SMS messages, primaries and team roles, tasks, related projects and mirrored fields, calendar events - and so much more.
VineConnect, a client portal exclusively built for Filevine, excels at these 6 features, offering law firms the opportunity to automate communications and streamline workflows within the powerful Filevine core case management system. This integration enables attorneys and their clients to access a simple, secure platform for managing case-related communications and tasks with deep data integration, and an intuitive and completely customizable experience.
If your firm is on Filevine, the choice for a client portal and automations tool is clear. Request a personalized demo or sign up and start your free trial of VineConnect today by going to vinetegrate.com/vineconnect.