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Just like every other type of modern office-based business, law firms are becoming more dependent on technology to do their jobs efficiently and to the highest possible standards. But if you’re a law firm manager, what type of software should you include in your annual budget, and how can it help you run your firm more efficiently? Here is our list of the top five essential pieces of software any law firm needs to have.
#1 – Accounting software
We all need to keep track of our finances, and for law firms this is particularly important. Invoices, fees paid and money due needs to be watched carefully, and the best way to stay on top of the bottom line numbers is to employ a piece of accounting software. While paper ‘books’ are still useful, today nearly every business, revenue service and accountancy firm has gone digital. So investing in a good package such as QuickBooks online by Intuit, which can be integrated with your invoicing software and other packages, makes sound financial sense.
This has to be one of the most important priorities for any online business. For law firms, who are dealing with highly sensitive information every day, online security is an absolute must. To protect your system against online attacks you will need to not only install firewalls, but also anti-viral and anti-spam software too. Go for the most up-to-date version, and choose one that has a good reputation for reliability. One of the very best on the market is AGV, a combined anti-spamware, anti-virus and anti-spyware program that costs just $50. Investing in AGV is probably the best $50 you’ll spend all year! Don’t rely on freeware, as it is often easily hackable and vulnerable to outside attack.
#3 – Copying and scanning
If you’re going over to digital records then you will need to invest in a scanner to ensure that you can make digital copies of existing paper documents. The best combination on the market is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500, which comes with a full Adobe Acrobat package and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. There are, of course, other scanners and software available, but if you have a lot of documents to scan in to your digital records then time efficiency will be an important consideration. So you may find that, while there may be cheaper versions available, they take much longer to scan in documents and are ultimately less cost-effective.
#4 – Digital dictation and voice recognition software
Want to get rid of those annoying dictaphone cassettes? Digital dictaphones are now commonplace, but transcribing audio into written notes is a time-consuming business. Dragon NaturallySpeaking from Nuance.com allows you to make digital recordings on the go and then transcribe them either in-house or by using an online transcription service.
#5 – Cloud computing
The cloud is, without doubt, the future of digital data storage. This concept represents the next generation of the Internet, and allows you to access your stored data files from anywhere in the world using any device. Using the cloud to store your records means that you don’t have to fill up your own hard-drives with data or invest in your own server. And with security now better than ever with full back-ups, the risk of losing your data is eliminated. Major names such as Google, Intel, Microsoft and Apple are all now cloud hosts, so go online to find the best one that suits your needs.