Why do the vast majority of law firms depend on outdated processes and procedures? Top lawyer Omar Ochoa, founder of Omar Ochoa Law Firm, believes that just because the legal business has traditionally operated with paper files and landlines, that doesn’t mean they should.
“I love technology,” Ochoa says. “I’ve been interested in it ever since childhood when I learned how to use a computer in first grade. Technology has always been something I’ve tried to leverage to make my life easier in general. As a business owner who runs a law firm with a large staff, I’m like a proverbial kid in a candy store, trying to find all the technology that’s available to make not just my life easier, but also my staff’s.”
Ochoa’s enthusiasm for technological innovations is also good news for clients, who benefit from the faster, smoother processes Omar Ochoa Law utilizes.
The law office you can text
Ochoa has adopted several innovative technology solutions that enable his law firm to deliver excellent customer service. First and foremost, he changed the phone system.
“When we first started, we had the very traditional kind of office setup — a phone on someone’s desk with conference-call and transfer abilities,” he says. “But it was still just a physical phone on a landline.”
Switching to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system provided him and his staff with many additional capabilities. “The big innovation is that we can text message directly from our office number,” Ochoa explains, “so if we advertise a phone number to people, they don’t have to call that number and spend time talking on the phone. They can just text us. Having that ability is very convenient because, a lot of times, people prefer that method of communication.”
The VoIP system also enables call routing and more robust call-tracking capabilities. “When you have a landline for your office phone, there’s not much opportunity to track the phone numbers that come in, unless you’re getting your phone bill and manually assigning them to specific clients,” Ochoa says. “With VoIP, the system automatically tracks all our calls. This means that, if a call gets dropped, we know exactly who we were talking to and what they were calling about. We can get back to them right away.”
The software also allows them to track how many times they’ve talked to someone, as well as how many times people have reached out to them. “We can see in real time what our response rate is and how long it takes us to call somebody back once they called in,” Ochoa remarks. “That gives us some really important performance metrics because, obviously, we want to be as responsive as we possibly can to our current clients and people who are looking for our services.”
Ever-ready cloud-based documents
“The traditional law firm has rooms full of boxes with client files,” Ochoa explains. “A lot of times, document management can be a huge undertaking and a big cost for law firms.” Traditional firms often pass this cost on to clients.
Ochoa wanted to do things differently, so his law firm has gone completely paperless. “We made a commitment from day one that we were going to reduce our paper as much as possible and try to eliminate it completely,” he says. “All paper that comes into our office gets scanned in through a system. It all gets stored electronically and filed on a cloud service.”
This innovation means Omar Ochoa Law keeps costs low. “That’s why we don’t charge clients for copies per page or for some separate kind of storage fees for their documents,” Ochoa says. “Keeping overhead costs low in general frees up more money to put into other parts of the business, such as increasing client service.”
This approach also enables Ochoa and his staff to work from anywhere. “We’re very nimble since all of the documents are available on the cloud system,” he says. “It literally doesn’t matter where I am or my staff is — we can access these documents anytime — so I’m just as effective working out of my office as I am in an airport, in a hotel, or in a different city.”
Cloud-based documents also allow the team to work together in real time, even when they are in different locations. “As soon as somebody changes the document, I see it on my end as well,” Ochoa explains, “so this system ensures we’re always able to deliver good client service, no matter the circumstances.”
Similarly, the firm has a workflow system that takes new clients’ intake information and seamlessly creates all the documents the lawyer will need to start the case. In most cases, the firm uses electronic contracts, which many clients prefer.
Clear, transparent communication in your pocket
Ochoa isn’t done innovating when it comes to bringing new technology to his law firm. Currently, he is working on developing a mobile app that would enable clients to track the progress of their cases right from their smartphones.
“This next step will help people stay in touch with us, learn more about us, and get the status of their case without having to call into the office or leave messages,” Ochoa says. “They will be able to see all of the information we have on our end already.”
While Ochoa might not have intended to revolutionize the legal industry, bringing these technological advances to the law is having that effect.
“We’re always pushing to try to do better,” he says. “The law isn’t immune to technological disruption. The customer base has been slow to push, but it’s coming because people have come to expect to do things electronically and seamlessly.”