As an immigration lawyer, your life is full of challenges. You deal with rapidly-changing policies, increasingly complex legal requirements, and tremendous community need. Many of those who most need your help might live in rural or remote areas, or find it difficult to pay standard legal rates.
How can you serve your clients, expand access to justice, and stay on top of a whirlwind of policy changes, while continuing to grow and improve your practice?
Fortunately, new immigration law firm software is helping lawyers solve some of their most intractable problems.
Here are 5 tools that are changing the game for immigration lawyers:
1. Cloud-based case management software
With their complex matters and heavy caseloads, immigration lawyers can benefit greatly from new storage and productivity tools. Cloud-based case management software gives you a central hub for all your information, keeping it simultaneously secure and accessible to team members who need it.
The ability to work remotely is more important now than ever. By keeping your crucial information on the cloud, you’re equipped to continue your work from home or on the road.
But modern case management software goes far beyond simple file storage. These also give you the productivity tools that keep entire legal teams in sync and on track.
2. Workflow automation
The practice of law is increasingly collaborative, and this is especially true for immigration attorneys. While you’re focusing on one thorny legal question, other members of your team can be communicating with your clients, preparing forms, and moving matters forward in other ways.
But collaboration carries its own challenges too. You might face uncertainty over specific responsibilities, leading either to bottlenecks or redundancies. One team member’s error or a misplaced file can damage the productivity of the entire office.
That’s why more immigration law firms are turning to technology to keep collaborative work running smoothly. Automation can be used in workflows in many ways, including:
- Ensure that once one task is completed, the next step is automatically assigned to the relevant person.
- See the details you’ll need, like contact information, directly on the task, without needing to add them manually.
- Effortlessly send updates to clients and new potential clients following key changes.
- Maintain some peace of mind, knowing nothing is falling through the cracks and your matters are moving forward faster.
3. Intake management software
Technology is helping our economy shift to provide immediate answers and rapid fulfilment of customers’ desires. But the legal industry has largely ignored this trend. Of course, legal work is complex and highly-regulated and can’t just be hawked like gadgets online. But there are several tools and techniques that can give potential clients the kind of rapid response and ease of onboarding they increasingly expect.
When someone is looking for an immigration lawyer, they will often reach out to several possibilities. The first one who responds to them has the best chance of retaining them as a client. Intake management software is the key to mastering this stage. It can help you send automated text messages, begin gathering information immediately, and track your leads to ensure that you’re following up with the people who are looking for your help.
4. eSignature tools
The immigration process is full of forms to sign. This simple act can open up new problems. Papers get lost, a client can't make it to your office, or maybe they don’t have the hardware they need to print and scan the form you emailed them.
Immigration lawyers need a shorter, simpler path for signature procurement. Look for eSignature software that allows you to text or email forms to your client, allows for unlimited signatures, and gives you a simple dashboard so you can see if the form has been received, opened, and signed, so you can adjust your follow-up accordingly.
5. Texting tools
What are the biggest complaints clients have about their immigration attorneys?
They don’t return my phone calls. They don’t email me back. I don’t hear from them enough.
It’s easy to say that better communication can dramatically improve client satisfaction. But how can immigration lawyers take more time and attention for each client, when they’re already swamped with work?
By getting some help from technology. New tools allow you to text clients from your computer—even directly from the client’s case files. Text messaging is one of the most popular means of communication. Text messages are far more likely to be read than emails, and more likely to get a response than calls from a number that isn’t already saved in the recipient’s phone.
By texting from the case files, you can reap these benefits without giving out your personal cell phone number to every client. It’s also a more transparent and collaborative way to share information: text communication is archived in the case files, any member of the team can respond, and that response is also visible to the whole team.
Texts can also lead to better outcomes with your clients. We’re accustomed to receiving text message nudges from our doctors, dentists, and even dog groomers. They remind us about upcoming appointments or steps we need to take. When these text nudges are used by lawyers, they not only help clients feel connected with their legal team, they make it more likely that they’ll make it to their appointments, sign and return documents, and do what is needed to keep their matter moving forward.
6. Automatic document generation
With document generation, immigration lawyers can cut down on the time they spend preparing and perfecting their forms and documents. Technology can pull information directly from their files to create complex, personalized documents with a click of a button.
In addition to saving time, automatic document generation cuts down on human error, and ensures that all documents created by your firm maintain the same high standards. Since immigration policy can change rapidly, this centralized process lets you quickly update the documents used by the entire firm.
500,000 people with pending immigration cases don’t have an attorney to represent them. Many undocumented people never seek status because they can’t afford legal help. Obviously, these problems can only be solved by systematic changes to how issues of status are dealt with in this country.