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Are you delegating properly?

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 21, 2015 Immigration case management, Money and time saving tips comments: Comments Off on Are you delegating properly?
Delegating allows attorneys to focus their energy on their clients.

There are few tricks to becoming a great attorney and one of them is learning to delegate. To advance in your jurisdiction and garner a stellar reputation, you must immerse yourself into your practice area – knowing not only the rule of law, but the nuances of relevant agencies and courts. Additionally, you must show your clients they come first by listening to them, advising them honestly and comforting them during difficult times.

"Without properly delegating, you may be holding yourself and your firm back."

Becoming an expert in your field and maintaining a client-focused practice isn't enough to grow your reputation and firm. These crucial activities can be harmed by spending too much time on tasks that could be performed quickly and efficiently by your staff. Without properly delegating, you may be holding yourself and your firm back.

Whether you're new to the delegating process or want to check in that you're using the practice to its most beneficial end, follow these steps:

1. Evaluate your daily workload
Before you can decide which tasks to delegate and to whom, you need to know where you're spending – and wasting – your time. If you use billable hours you may already be doing this, but track your time closely for at least week so you can measure how long you spend on various types of tasks such as researching, completing forms, drafting routine pleadings, scheduling, communicating with clients, copying and scanning paperwork and more.

Once you know how you spend your time, determine which of these tasks require a licensed attorney and which can be performed by an assistant, paralegal or clerk.

2. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your staff
Once you've determined common tasks you perform that would be better suited for another staff member, it's time to start thinking about who is best for each job. Consider the education, training, years of experience, strengths and weaknesses of each of your staff members.

In many cases, assistants can take on administrative tasks like scheduling and scanning, experienced paralegals can draft routine pleadings and associates can perform research and draft more nuanced pleadings.

Delegating frees up time and empowers workers to do more.Delegating frees up time and empowers workers to do more.

3. Observe the workload of your staff
Take a moment to evaluate their current tasks before assigning additional work to certain people. If the best person for a job has a full plate, you may want to consider reassigning some of his or her tasks to another staff member or providing a different person additional training to take on the new assignment.

Delegating with the best of intentions can fall apart if the people assigned the tasks don't have time. Adding to an already busy schedule can decrease both productivity and employee satisfaction.

4. Establish formal office procedures
Up until now, the delegating process has relied solely on you determining which tasks can be transferred to various other people in your office. It's time to formally communicate these changes.

Meet one on one with the necessary employees or hold a staff meeting to discuss the upcoming changes. Make sure each person affected understands how his or her role will change and which new duties you've assigned.

Additionally, this is where your case management software becomes important. Use this comprehensive resource to formally assign cases and tasks to the correct person. By focusing on collaborating through the platform, you can avoid confusion or the need for meetings that waste everyone's time.

5. Check in with the process
Use your CMS to evaluate how your delegation is working. Run reports based on employees, tasks or cases to see how people are performing and cases are progressing. By doing this once per month you'll be able to make adjustments to people's workloads as you go.

By delegating, you ensure you have the time to focus on your clients and substantive legal issues. It's a continual process that you need to watch over and evaluate to ensure it benefits you, your practice and your clients.

date:  Apr 21, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Are you delegating properly?
by:  INSZoom category:  Immigration case management, Money and time saving tips Read More

Are you taking advantage of email marketing? Part 1

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 21, 2015 Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on Are you taking advantage of email marketing? Part 1
Email creates new opportunities for law firms.

It's easier than ever for lawyers to market to current and prospective clients through online channels. Although email has been around for a long time now, it's still one of the most useful online marketing channels and generates high return on investment. Attorneys should take advantage of the email features in their case management software to expand their marketing.

Why email?
Email marketing is not only one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a large audience, but it also gives firms the option to segment their clients into separate lists so each group can be targeted with more specific content. For every $1 marketers spend on email, this tactic generates a $44.25 return on average, according to data from EmailExpert.org. However, law firms need to ensure they create high-quality campaigns that resonate with their prospects and clients. 

"For every $1 marketers spend on email, this tactic generates a $44.25 return."

Most adults have an email account, and mobile devices lead people to check their inboxes even more frequently. How can law firms create messages their clients will read and engage with?

What attorneys must know
Although email is one of the strongest online marketing tools, a great deal goes into creating a compelling campaign. Email marketing has become more sophisticated over time, and law firms need to cater to user preferences or risk being marked as spam. Unlike other online marketing tactics, such as search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising, lawyers need to already be in contact with clients or prospects to email them. 

Email service providers favor user experience over marketing content. If law firms don't play by their rules, promotional emails will be deleted or marked as spam – or worse, users may unsubscribe from the list. Lawyers need to ask clients to opt in before emailing them promotional content. Attorneys are still allowed to contact clients about the status of their cases through email. 

Email is a valuable tool for law firms.Email is a valuable tool for law firms.

Even though it may seem counterintuitive, it's important to give people the choice to opt out of future marketing messages. If there isn't an easy-to-find unsubscribe link or button, clients may mark the message as spam, which can also lead to consumer complaints and fines. Too many spam flags sends a negative signal to email providers, which will prevent future emails from reaching other members of the audience. Include an unsubscribe link in every email. If people ask to be removed, firms should take email addresses off the list within a week.

Gather emails
In addition to making it easy for clients to unsubscribe, there are other best practices law firms should be aware of before launching an email campaign. How can lawyers build a strong email list? Ask people to opt in whenever possible, such as when the firm gets a new client. Provide forms in the client-facing CMS and on the website. Lawyers can also offer a report about a new visa process, which would interest their client base with a download form, The National Law Review suggested. 

Send targeted emails
Delivering relevant content is critical for user engagement. However, it may be difficult to connect with a firm's entire audience with one message. Fortunately, many platforms allow attorneys to create different list segments. On the most basic level, this process enables firms to keep current and prospective clients separate since each group will need different messaging. Segmentation increases return on investment on marketing efforts. Emailing the audience on a regular basis is key for success. A monthly newsletter format works well for law firms.

How INSZoom enables email marketing
With INSZoom, lawyers can use email templates, create lists and post announcements. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently decided to offer work authorization for H-4 dependents who are the spouses of H-1B workers. Immigration lawyers could send an email blast to their H-1B clients to inform them of this change. 

Offering updates is more engaging and provides value, creating an opportunity for a later conversation. INSZoom helps firms segment their lists and send the most relevant content to the right audience, as well as communicate with specific clients about changes in their cases. 

date:  Apr 21, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Are you taking advantage of email marketing? Part 1
by:  INSZoom category:  Immigration case management Read More

Which regions received the most H-1B approvals? [Video]

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 21, 2015 News comments: Comments Off on Which regions received the most H-1B approvals? [Video]

H-1B visas are dispersed differently by region. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting H-1B applications for fiscal years 2016 last week and will need to employ a lottery system to issue visas because the cap was exceeded. In the past three years, the cap has been met within one week, and high demand is expected next year. 

The Brookings Institute analyzed 2013 H-1B data to determine which regions had the highest concentration of H-1B workers. New York City; the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington area; and Silicon Valley were the top three regions for approvals.

The cities with the most employed H-1B recipients varied, with Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, winning the top spot. This region had 23 H-1B visas approved for every 1,000 workers. This area also had one of the highest concentrations of foreign student visas from 2008 to 2012.

Thanks for watching and check back with INSZoom for more immigration news.

date:  Apr 21, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Which regions received the most H-1B approvals? [Video]
by:  INSZoom category:  News Read More

Considerations before changing technology

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 20, 2015 Data security comments: Comments Off on Considerations before changing technology
Law firms need the right tools to streamline operations.

More technology is available to law firms than ever before. However, decision-makers need to conduct a thorough evaluation of their internal needs before selecting a new platform. Some law firms struggle to effectively manage changes, but many benefits can be acquired through new technology, such as better client relations, improved organization and increased efficiency. Here are some considerations before adopting a new case management platform:

Ask for input from all levels of the organization
It's important to treat end users as stakeholders in the decision-making process. This helps law firm employees to be more engaged in the transition to new technology. Asking for input helps firms put together a more complete picture of the technology needed for everyone to be more efficient. Depending on the unique needs of the firm, a highly user-friendly platform may be the best choice.

Understand everyone adapts at a difference pace
Technology has already caused significant changes in legal practices and given lawyers the ability to work from almost anywhere at any time. Law firms include attorneys from multiple generations, and while millennials may be comfortable with advanced systems, older employees may have a steeper learning curve. Younger lawyers want technology to make their jobs easier and give them more flexibility, such as the ability to telecommute. Requiring attorneys to only work from the office can be limiting, especially with cloud storage, mobile devices and laptops that make mobility simple. Leaders need to enable lawyers to have more flexibility and help older employees adapt to changes. 

What do law firms need in a technology provider?What do law firms need in a technology provider?

Understand data security
Data breaches are becoming a more significant problem across many industries, and law firms need to take steps to protect their data to avoid a breach of confidentiality with their clients. When moving to a cloud-based platform, law firms need to consider how they will secure their infrastructure, according to FindLaw. Many firms use public Internet, which increases the risks of security breaches. Although public networks have become more secure in the past few years, using the cloud in this environment can open a firm up for vulnerabilities. Law firms need to assess their current data security protection and determine if any upgrades are needed. 

Identify key areas that need improvement
Law firms may have multiple goals when they adopt new technology, but it's important to prioritize the top objectives. Case management software achieves multiple goals. Whether it's enabling document collaboration so lawyers can work outside of the office or streamlining workflow, INSZoom's platform helps firms meet these goals.

Partner with a vendor
Successful technology implementation often hinges on a law firm's relationship with its technology vendor. A vendor will be a partner for the long haul, so it's important to select the right one. Law firms need a platform that can integrate with their pre-existing internal systems so they don't face additional costs. INSZoom's case management software allows law firms to streamline workflow and improve collaboration without missing any important case deadlines, plus it offers support through the life of the relationship. 

date:  Apr 20, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Considerations before changing technology
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security Read More

It takes time to save time

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 20, 2015 Money and time saving tips comments: Comments Off on It takes time to save time
Not understanding technology can hurt firm profitability.

Everyone is familiar with the expression "time is money," but it's especially true for lawyers who use billable hours. Attorneys who spend too many hours on administrative tasks could be wasting time they need to do important work on their cases. Inefficient workflows jeopardize the profitability of the firm. 

Technology is becoming more important, whether firms are prepared or not
The legal industry has been slow to adopt new technology, and it could be harming firms. While lawyers may be adept at tracking hours and recording codes for client billing, they only have the basic skills in other programs, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel and Adobe Acrobat. which are not enough. All of these programs have the potential to streamline workflow for lawyers, but gaps in knowledge impair their ability to accomplish tasks. 

Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel for Kia Motors America, Inc., designed a technology competency audit to test firms on basic office program skills. The test has three tasks that can include formatting a motion in Word, creating an arbitration index in Excel or formatting a contract. Flaherty can complete the audit in 30 minutes and set one hour as a passing score. In the times he has administered the audit, all the associates have failed. The longest length of time for three tasks was eight hours. It's clear that a lack of technology savvy could be holding some firms back. 

Lawyers need to learn to use technology more efficiently.Lawyers need to learn to use technology more efficiently.

In addition, clients expect lawyers to use the latest technology. Mobile devices and the Internet have opened up a new world of possibilities. Law firms do not need to send clients a large stack of paperwork. Many documents can be sent electronically, which saves time and cuts costs. As the business of law continues to become more competitive, firms must meet these client expectations to maintain a strategic advantage. If lawyers don't adapt now, firms could fall behind. 

How to improve technology use when there's no time
Many lawyers are already pressed for time, which is stressful when they need to learn to use new systems. When it comes to immigration law, different processes have strict deadlines. However, firms need to make time to learn about technology and implement processes that will save time in the long run. 

Most lawyers have enough awareness of the functionality of their billing software to track their hours, but they may be overlooking shortcuts that would save them time, such as text expansion, duplication and hot keys. These features are useful for repetitive tasks and can save time when entering information. Attorneys need to know the most efficient way to work with all the software they use when performing tasks to avoid missing billable time.

Although learning shortcuts takes time that lawyers feel like they don't have, it can help firms establish more efficient processes. Attorneys will be able to save minutes or even hours in the future. Shortcuts and hot keys in Word and Outlook are essential for a number of tasks, but it's also important for employees to have a strong working knowledge of how to use the firm's case management software in relation to these programs. 

INSZoom saves immigration law firms time and money
Firms may have multiple inefficiencies they don't know about. INSZoom's case management software allows lawyers to create a streamlined workflow and cut down on the length of time it takes to file visa petitions. INSZoom helped one firm cut the process in half simply by using the platform's email and letter templates.

date:  Apr 20, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on It takes time to save time
by:  INSZoom category:  Money and time saving tips Read More
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