by Michelle Lowe
LawPay partners with others in legal tech companies, including Cerenade. I caught up with Cerenade’s Ray Herrera recently for insights on how technology can help immigration attorneys and their clients.
What problems do electronic forms and online payments solve for immigration attorneys? Computers and smartphones have changed how we do things, both in our personal lives and business. What once needed to be done at the office, or in person, is now accessible from anywhere. By having an electronic forms solution and accepting online payments, not only does it give you flexibility to work from anywhere, but it also means the ability to have these documents readily available. It also gives you the option of accepting payments from anywhere.
How do clients benefit from tech-enabled law firms? For clients, the option to fill out a form online or pay with a credit card makes it easier on them and the attorney. No more need to travel, which in immigration law, can mean visiting another city, state, or country in some cases. If the attorney needs your info, she will send you a questionnaire for you to answer online. If she requires payment on an invoice, the attorney will guide you to the proper location where you will input credit card and other sensitive information securely online. Without electronic forms and online payment options, this requires the client to make a trip to the attorney’s office, sometimes spending hours each visit.
On that note, how can attorneys use technology at work and still show compassion to clients? On the surface, using e-forms and e-payments might seem like there’s “less face time” with your client. But if you dig a little deeper, aren’t you making life easier for the client? Most of your clients work business hours of 9 to 5 which coincide with your business hours. Without an e-forms and online payments solution, they would have to visit your office meaning they have to request time off work. In a perfect world we would think all employers cover time-off for important things like this but that’s not always the case. In most cases these clients are living paycheck to paycheck and are sacrificing needed income so they can visit your office. Why not use technology so they don’t run into these situations? So, not only do they not have to request a day off, but now they can do everything on their time. You will still be there along the way, sending them emails, making phone calls, ensuring that they get the best service.
What does going 'paperless' mean for an immigration law firm? Immigration attorneys aren’t always in the office. We have a lot of users who spend a good amount of time outside whether visiting courtrooms, conferences, visiting law enforcement, and visiting clients. Going paperless not only means saving on those reams of paper, but it also means having instantly accessible files. If you are still using a paper system, finding a file might require you to go through numerous file cabinets, which can be time consuming.
By going paperless, you have all your files inside one system where they are readily available to be accessed or worked on. And because most technologies are “cloud based,” you can access those documents from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Going paperless means fewer delays, and more productivity. This will come in handy when you need a colleague or paralegal to do a task ASAP so that you can have that document within seconds wherever you are. Time is money and the more time wasted on not having things readily available can cost you in the long run.
What is your #1 recommendation for immigration attorneys interested in using more technology in their practices? In theory, yes, you can run a law firm without any practice or case management software, but think of the time wasted during the day. Think of the tasks you have to try to remember. Think of important deadlines you cannot let pass. That is a lot of info to try and remember. Why not get software that helps with all of that and more!
Michelle Lowe is LawPay’s finance and tech expert. Visit lawpay.com/dallasbar.