There are a vast number of tech tools designed to help you optimize your life and make the most of your time. We sat down with immigration tech guru Jared Jaskot to help us make sense of many of the tools available to immigration lawyers and how to decide what tech is best for your immigration law firm.
This article is not so much about the tech behind these tools itself, but more about how to choose wisely. Our goal today is to help you raise your tech IQ and choose tools that really fit your immigration law firm’s needs with confidence.
Time is perhaps our most precious commodity. However, there are only 24 hours in a day, so saving time should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re choosing tech tools for your immigration law firm.
Here are some helpful questions you should consider when you’re choosing technology for your immigration law firm:
Choosing a tech tool can be overwhelming, and thinking through these questions, and in some cases asking the company, can help you feel more confident and comfortable saying yes to new software.
We’ve gone through some universal principles and questions to hopefully help you decide on the tech you need. So let’s dive into a few specific aspects of running an immigration practice to think about how tech can make each of them potentially easier.
Accurate and timely billing and clean accounting is key to running a healthy immigration law practice. Most billing software solutions these days are good - they allow you to create electronic invoices, track whether an invoice has been paid or is overdue, and more. If you’re currently billing manually, creating invoices manually and tracking payments in a spreadsheet or checkbook, almost any tool will be a step up.
That said, when deciding what billing system to use, here are a few other things to consider.
One is the type of client you have and how they will be able to pay. For example, relatively sophisticated clients, whether individual or corporate, will be able to pay you by credit card through an electronic invoice. Other clients, such as recent immigrants without many resources or who have not been able to open a bank account, may be unable to do so and will need to bring cash or a money order to your office to pay. Meet your clients where they are and make sure that the software you choose can accommodate accepting payments in whatever form your clients are able to pay.
Additionally, consider allowing payment plans too. It’s not uncommon for immigration clients to request payment plans, especially for high fees. If you’re dealing with a clientele which requests such arrangements, make sure your tool has the ability to split an invoice into parts or create an actual payment plan.
At their core, templates can help you automate your commonly filed paperwork. In immigration law, many firms specialize in specific types of cases, so a good portion of those cases will likely have at least some level of standardization.
Here are some of the tasks you can consider creating templates for, and thus consider when exploring what tech to adopt at your firm:
Of course there can be any other number of tasks that you firm handles that might be ripe for automation, so don't take this list as exhaustive and be sure to audit your firm's processes and see what else you can create templates around or otherwise automate.
While some law firms still have landlines, or perhaps even give out their cellphone numbers, we recommend voice over internet protocol systems (VoIP) to set up your phone line. What is VoIP? According to the FCC, VoIP is “a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.” In other words, if you have an internet connection, you have a phone. No traditional landline is needed.
Vonage and RingCentral are some of the better known VoIP services, though there are a number of competitors out there worth looking at. If you’re going to deploy your staff remotely as many firms have had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, a VoIP service allows you to set everyone up with their own line, hire people in other geographical locations , and set up your office anywhere you want or need.
We’ve spent some time speaking about email and its importance in our article about how to get your immigration law firm started. Here, let’s focus more on how to know if an email system is any good.
Some of the basics you want to see your email system include are:
While there are many email services, Google Workspace, which includes email, video calling, phone and more is easy to use, provides multiple email accounts with your domain name, and helps you integrate other tools like Google Docs for team collaboration.
Yes it’s 2021, but immigration law still relies heavily on paper. That means scanners are still important. That said, instead of recommending a specific machine, let’s go over two important factors that may influence your decision.
First, and this might sound controversial, price should not be one of them. Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to save a few dollars; instead, make sure you choose a piece of equipment that is reliable and that you can get serviced easily if something goes wrong. You don’t want to be the lawyer that was late responding to a Request for Evidence (RFE) because their scanner broke down at the last minute.
Second, see if you can lease the machine instead of buying it. With such a large piece of equipment, leasing instead of buying gives you the option to upgrade as needed. Because the company still owns it, they may make it easier to maintain it and upgrade as needed.
Calendly: Calendly is one of the most popular appointment scheduling tools because they make scheduling, rescheduling, and canceling incredibly easy. It’s important to have a scheduling system that’s easy for your clients to use in case they have to reschedule or cancel a meeting or appointment with you. This helps reduce no-shows, manages expectations, and helps you keep track of your appointments.
Quickbooks and LawPay: These two systems work hand-in-hand to help you keep track of your firm’s billing and finances. And if you’re a Docketwise user, both Quickbooks and LawPay integrate seamlessly - when you generate an invoice through Docketwise, your client will get an option to pay using LawPay, and once this is done, everything will be recorded in your Quickbooks account for easy bookkeeping.
As you continue to introduce new technology into your law firm, Docketwise is working to build a one-stop solution for immigration law firms across the country. With Docketwise, you can streamline and automate the administrative parts of your work - from client intake to invoicing to form filling - and focus on what’s most important: supporting your clients.
From a full library of immigration forms to client questionnaires in multiple languages to an industry-leading set of API integrations, we help you stay up to date on all your cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your firm.