How Slack Helps Lawyers

Slack is a tool that is starting to get more widely adopted in the legal profession.

Basically, Slack is a messaging app for teams. It’s kind of like sending messages via text message on your phone (or in Apple iMessage or Facebook Messenger).

If you work in a law firm where everyone works every day in the same office it will take you longer to appreciate the value of Slack (but eventually you will).

Slack is better than email

Email is not the best way for groups of people to manage discussions related to discreet projects and tasks.

Slack (or its equivalent, which is Microsoft Teams) is the optimal way to easily communicate with your colleagues or with virtual assistants.

If you work in a law firm with people distributed in different offices, or with people who work virtually, then Slack will make sense faster.

The more you work with Slack the more you’ll appreciate its power and indispensable utility.

For example…

Case Study #1: Rosen Law Firm

Attorney Lee Rosen set up a Slack account for his firm pretty soon after Slack started making waves.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog post (A Day In The Life of Slack) where he explains why its valuable and how his law firm uses it:

“Normally, when we launch a new application in our firm, we get resistance, especially from the lawyers. They don’t like it. They don’t understand.

They want a training session, ask for a tutorial video, or have a hundred questions.

That wasn’t the case with Slack. We rolled it out, did nothing to promote it, and it took off.”

I recommend you go read the whole blog post.

He gives you a running account of how his firm uses Slack throughout a typical work day.

Here’s another example of how Slack discussions work.

Case Study #2: The Autopilot Lawyer Group

I set up a private Slack group for the attorneys I coach and (just like Lee Rosen’s experience) it’s been exceptionally well received.

The key thing to grasp about Slack is:

You can create public channels for group discussions (You can also have private discussions visible only to the parties involved).

Below are some examples of actual questions in some of our public channels (and some of the replies).

(Sensitive information has been omitted to respect the privacy of members)

The questions alone will give you a sense of what kinds of discussions take place in the group area (and later I’ll tell you how you can peer more closely into those discussions).

Some of Discussion Channels

Referrals Channel:

Posted May 25th at 4:06 pm
“I need a referral to an elder abuse (financial) attorney in Hagerstown Maryland.  If you don’t know of anyone there, then a referral to someone in Baltimore would likely work too.” [replies omitted]

Posted November 28th at 10:52 am
“This is a shot in the dark, but does anyone know of a traffic/criminal attorney in Mojave County, CA to vacate a speeding ticket. PC is a truck driver that paid a ticket 18 months ago and didn’t realize if would work impact his CDL.”

Reply shortly after…
“If you’re still looking for someone, feel free to reach out to [name omitted or [phone number omitted].

Security Channel:

Posted October 25th at 6:35 am
“A new ransomware attack called “Bad Rabbit” is masquerading as an update to Adobe’s Flash multimedia product. More info about this attack here [LINK]”

Posted by Ernie Svenson on June 1st at 10:11am
“I’m at the conference hotel where the Indiana Solo & Small Firm event is being held. There is free wifi, and I will use it securely because I’m using a VPN service called TunnelBear that works across all my devices (if I use them on public WiFi). There are other VPN services, but this is one I know, like and trust. And you can sign up to use it for free (limited capabilities, but you can test it out): [LINK].”

Estate Planners Channel

Posted on June 2nd at 7:43 pm
“Does anyone use a software they really like for estate planning document prep?  I use something by FORE that was reasonable and does trusts wills powers of attorneys etc. But maybe there is something better?”

Posted on January 31st at 7:30 am
“This article on “7 Awful Mistakes People Make When Creating Their Own Wills” is exceptional fodder to sift through for material you can swipe and use in blog articles, or other content (marketing especially). [link omitted]”

Posted on April 27th at 9:05 am
“Still trying to find a replacement for my ElderDocX estate planning document generating solution. It’s not a good fit for me, particularly at the price. Looked at Lawyers With Purpose. Again, more than I need. Must be cloud based. Suggestions?”

Posted on May 25th at 3:48 pm
“Anyone an ActionStep user? Curious as to your impressions as an estate planning case management tool.”

Marketing Channel

Posted on January 16th at 4:12 pm
“Here’s a good checklist for folks with websites and attorney bios…” [link omitted]

Posted on January 21st at 5:45 pm
“Here’s a useful primer on retargeting ads https://ducttapemarketing.com/retargeting-facebook-google/”

Posted on February 2nd at 5:34 pm
“If you do online marketing with websites then understanding SEO is important. Here’s a great guide written by a top SEO guru. [link omitted]

Posted on November 21st at 11:35 am
“Random thought/question: I post articles to my blog page on my law firm website weekly. That page is not so creatively titled “blog”. I want to change it to something a little more catchy and consistent with the mission of the postings rather than the generic title of “blog”. Any suggestions or ideas?”

Reply by marketing expert Megan Hargroder on November 21st at 12:43 pm
“Yet another reason to have your site properly structured and indexed: Google is now rolling out featured snippets! (This is a screenshot of the very top of google when I searched ‘attorney cary jacobson’). For now, this is very direct and usually populates with the attorney’s name. But if you corner your niche – eventually you will be able to appear this way for ‘new orleans traffic ticket lawyer’ (or whatever your key target search phrase may be). And remember: Google rewards those who play by the rules! (So don’t try hiring a random SEO solicitor to make this happen for you. You’ll get the opposite results you’re hoping for.)”

Systems Channel

Posted June 19th at 10:50 am
“Is anyone outsourcing data entry? I’m looking to outsource entering medical and financial information of clients and wondered if folks are using a VA or an agency or keeping it in house…thoughts?

Posted Sept 5th at 8:17 pm
“I could use some help thinking through how to automate our client intake. I know there are form builder apps that we can use to collect data. How do you all handle intake, and what apps to you use to do it? (I use Rocket Matter and Infusionsoft, though not to the fullest extent possible.)”

Posted January 9th at 6:22 pm
“Someone in the group asked me about how to create systems without getting derailed, and this is my answer… https://youtu.be/ErO8gJPVV3E

Posted July 19th at 1:35 pm
“I am in the process of replacing CaseMap. I am looking at CaseFleet and Goldfynch an ediscovery document management system. Has anyone used these or have a suggestion for fact/document management.”

Reply by tech consultant/lawyerBrett Burney
“I am familiar with both CaseFleet and Goldfynch and I am a big fan of them both. I reviewed both of them in the free eDiscovery Buyers Guide (www.ediscoverybuyersguide.com) which we are getting ready to release the 2019 edition in a week. I would say CaseFleet is more like CaseMap for the organization and analysis components – it allows you to track all the people, places, and events involved in your matter. Goldfynch is more of a traditional document review platform where you can pull in email and documents and tag them as relevant, privileged, etc. There is some overlap to the two platforms, but you are definitely looking in the right place! “

Clio Software Channel

Posted on October 6th at 1:16 pm
“Is anyone here using Clio for task management?  If so, how is it working?  We have Clio, and some of our paralegals use it to keep track of their tasks.  We haven’t rolled it out to the entire firm yet, because I want to make sure it works before we implement a process and require compliance.

We do insurance defense, and have a helluva lot of tasks.  It seems to me that the task list gets overwhelming, unorganized, and unmanageable really fast.

Posted on October 20th at 5:41 pm
“We noticed a major Clio issue a couple of days ago.  Beginning around October 10, a helluva lot of our timekeeper entries show “$0.00” as the hourly billing rate.  We have rates set at the client level, and only some of our timekeepers and some of our clients were affected.  Three days ago I called the Clio help desk and they wrote up a ticket.  I haven’t heard anything back from them, and we still have the problem.  It’s going to cripple us when November gets here and we have a new billing cycle.  So, I would recommend checking your activity tab and making sure everything is working for you.”

Practice Management Channel

Posted on May 24th at 9:39 pm
“What is everyone using for task management?  I use outlook on my pc. The problem I’m having though is that I have an iPhone, and the only app that I’ve found that syncs well with my tasks in 0365 is Apple’s tasks app. Not a huge fan of the app, so I’ve been capturing tasks in Evernote or even emailing a note to myself to enter the task into outlook when I get to my pc. It’s a pain, and I’d like to find a better solution. I’m not married to outlook either. I just want something that will allow me to capture tasks on the go,  sync across my devices, and allow me to sort and organize tasks (using a GTD-type system). Thoughts? Recommendations?

Posted June 19th at 2:38 pm
“Is anyone using Pathagoras for document assembly? I did the three month trial run and ended up purchasing a license. It’s excellent! If anyone else is using it, let me know. I’d be happy to share/trade clause libraries (aka drop down lists) and docs I’ve automated. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s a great add-in for Microsoft Word. You can do a 90-day free trial run if you’re interested. Here is the link: [LINK] Highly recommend it.

Virtual Assistance Channel

Posted November 22nd at 7:55 am
“My firm needs help developing and documenting systems. Our fist big challenge is cleaning up and documenting our billing system. We use Smokeball/boost. I’m wondering if a VA could help with this. We’ve never used a VA before. Does anyone have any thoughts, recommendations or insight?”

Posted September 23rd at 9:43 am
“If anyone needs someone to help you create or refine templates for commonly used documents (e.g. letterhead, pleadings, transactional docs etc.) this woman has been highly recommended to me by @[usernameomitted] (whose opinion I trust 100%)…[url link omitted]”

What Slack’s Interface Looks Like

You can access Slack from your browser or from the dedicated software for Macs or PCs. There are also well-designed mobile apps for using Slack on the go.

Below is a screenshot of Ernie Svenson’s view of the “general” channel as seen on his Mac laptop

The LawFirm Autopilot Slack group has 60+ public channels with robust, high-level discussions amongst the many solo/small firm lawyers…

Lawyers with all kinds of practices sharing tips, best practices, and asking insightful questions about how to improve their firm’s operations and marketing efforts.

If you’d like to join the Autopilot Slack Group, here’s a link to get more details and sign up to get immediate access.

Slack vs. Microsoft Teams

Although it’s hard to say precisely at this point, Slack is probably more widely adopted by lawyers than any other kind of business chat service.

For example, here’s a screenshot of an informal poll I did in the Maximum Lawyer Facebook Group (which has 2,600 members).

As you can see below, Slack is used way more than Microsoft Teams. And way more than the other options.

Learn by Doing

Again, the best way to understand any of these tools is to use them in your actual practice.

But if you don’t yet see a way to do that, then I recommend you check out the LawFirm Autopilot Slack group.