One of the most important things about law practice is getting paid. With the advent of electronic payments technology, the process of getting paid can be easier than ever. Some of you may be saying "Advent?!?!? PayPal is more than 20 years old!" But research suggests that fewer than 25% of lawyers actually use some kind of electronic payments technology. The vast majority of lawyers are still getting paid by some combination of cash, checks, and wires. But I digress.
The stakes are high for law firm leaders to use electronic payments effectively. Collections - or, more accurately, the failure to collect - can have a huge impact on a law firm. First, chasing clients down to get them to pay is costly in the form of wasted time. Second, poor collections can threaten a firm's livelihood. Even with a great deal of outstanding paid work completed, if a firm can't collect on that completed work the firm could face catastrophic cash problems. Finally, the 2019 Clio Trends Report states that electronic payments get paid fast: 57% of electronic payments get paid within the same day they are billed, and 85% get paid within a week.
Yet, without systems and processes in place firms will fail to fully realize the benefits of electronic payments and find themselves, as just one example, chasing clients for electronic payments in much the same way they chased them for physical payment.
What to do?
One answer is to build law firm processes that help increase a firm's collection rate. Whether that's using your trust account more effectively, the 2017 Clio Trends Report stated that firms that use their trust account realize and collect more of the work they do, storing a client payment method, we've seen firms that keep a client "card on file" and bill them automatically for outstanding fees promptly at the beginning of the month run with practically no outstanding accounts receivable, or putting other firm processes in place to ensure prompt payment, firm processes can improve firm collections.
Another option - and the basis of this discussion - is to use technology to facilitate or ease the burden of automating the payments experience. Tech processes can reduce the amount of manual effort required to request, receive and even manage money that the firm receives.
The easiest way to use technology to make payments easier is through direct integrations. This is where two or more companies connect their products directly such that the two products work in an integrated fashion. We at Gravity Legal have integrations with a number of companies including, most prominently, LeanLaw.
The challenge is that it's fairly expensive for every company to build a direct integration from their product to every other company's product. This is where Zapier comes in. A company can build an integration for their product with Zapier and then be connected to any other platform that has also built an integration to Zapier. And Zapier doesn't require a knowledge of coding for Zapier users to connect apps that work with Zapier.
Think of these Zapier-based integrated processes as customized workflows. Zapier refers to them as "Zaps." You can use these Zaps to automate common tasks - everything from adding email to a marketing list, to sending an SMS alert in the event of a certain outcome, to copying and/or saving certain documents or email in the cloud.
Each Zap requires a trigger and an action. Think of these as "if-then" statements with which you may be familiar either from logic or, if you do have a technical background, coding or mathematics.
There are actually two types of actions: "Create" actions and "Search" actions.
Zapier integrates with over 2000 different applications across all industries and apps.
Lawyers get tremendous value tying together non-legal specific apps with Zapier. However, many want to use Zapier to connect legal-specific and non-legal-specific apps (such as Google Sheets and Lawyaw) or two (or more) legal-specific apps together (such as Lawcus and, say, Gravity Legal) to extend the functionality of these powerful tools. For legal specifically, we at Gravity Legal have been building a database of legal-specific Zapier integrations for lawyers and firms to better understand which legal tools connect to Zapier and how they can be connected to each other to build powerful workflows. More on the database later.
Here are five ways lawyers can streamline their payments experience using Zapier.
Getting paid feels good! You can create a Zapier trigger to notify you via text message every time you get paid. Sure, this Zap may not change your life. But you’ll get a little shot of positivity every time it triggers. And that’s not too bad. Hey, it’s the little things!
These are only a few examples. It seems every time we dig deeper we find another legal technology company that has integrated with Zapier or another awesome Zap that a law firm has built. You can find the Gravity Legal database of legal Zapier integrations here. If you're a lawyer or firm with an awesome legal Zap, we'd love to hear about that too. Tell us here.
Keeping the money coming into and flowing through your firm is central to the survival of your firm. Automating the process of getting paid with law firm processes, integrations, and, yes, Zapier - thereby freeing up time for you to focus on serving clients - means you’ll get paid faster, easier, and with less effort.