There are many challenges that come with traditional diagramming solutions for law firms. This is because traditional diagramming solutions are general purpose tools rather than tools specialized for the work attorneys do. As a result, attorneys waste hours on frustrating diagramming processes.
Today, we look at 6 problems with traditional diagramming.
The biggest issue with traditional diagramming solutions is the amount of time they waste for attorneys.
When using PowerPoint, Excel, or Visio, attorneys can spend hours connecting shapes, making shapes align, highlighting action steps, adding labels, leaving notes, and making key information stand out, all to ensure a client-ready, professional diagram. A diagram may not be very complex, but can take hours to build in a traditional tool.
With pen and paper or white boards, diagrams might be spun up quickly but introduce their own constraints. These diagrams cannot be shared easily with colleagues for input, or actively collaborated on unless an entire team is present in the same office. Colleagues may also have a hard time reading illegible writing to provide meaningful input to one another. Even then, once finalized, hand drawn diagrams need to be transcribed into digital versions to share with clients, which produces twice the work.
Ultimately, attorneys collect dozens of hours of non-billable work each week, limiting their capacity to do other high value work or see more clients regularly.
Traditional diagramming tools have a set limit for how big and complex your diagram can get. Many practitioners create corporate structures with hundreds of entities in one diagram, and need to be able to see the big picture in one place. Drawing huge org charts can be almost impossible on a white board or on paper with the level of detail needed, and zooming in and out in other tools is tedious and painful. Even if the final diagram is modest in complexity, practitioners need to be able to conceptualize the entire set of transactions and processes first, in order to understand what the end product should be. Practitioners don't want to be constrained as they are moving and shifting things around, so flexibility within the canvas is important.
Many diagrams will require input from a senior practitioner, members of your team, and other teams across the firm. With the traditional approach, an email is sent with the final diagram, questions come up, suggestions are given, changes requested, and corresponding edits are made.
As this process repeats, multiple versions of the document begin to float around, a messy email thread forms and it is no longer clear to everyone who has seen what, and which version is the most up-to-date and will be shared with clients.
Without a strict process to upload materials to a document-management system, knowing where the most current version of a diagram lives is unclear. This can lead to out-of-date information being shared with clients, and in a worst case scenario, result in negative outcomes for the client and firm.
Traditional diagramming solutions do not provide a seamless, collaborative workflow. Instead review processes are drawn out, discussions take place in email threads and become chaotic, and finalized versions can be lost in the shuffle.
A diagram represents a great deal of information, but traditional tools cannot store that data. This means diagrams are either crowded with text boxes or additional documents need to accompany your diagrams to provide clarity.
Ideally, you should be able to communicate to collaborators more information about an entity or a transaction without adding noise to a busy diagram. For example, the class of shares, the voting rights and whether the shares are preferred or common, are all types of data that should be clearly conveyed. Traditional tools do not provide an option to store that information somewhere within the diagram, make it visible or hidden, or accompany it as a secondary document.
The look of diagrams can vary widely across the firm, from one practitioner to another. There is no set standard for the choice of shape sizes, colors, layout and all the other elements of a complete diagram. This is only natural, as every practitioner has his/her own unique approach. The resulting lack of clarity and individual preferences from one diagram to the next will only draw out review processes further.
With a general-purpose approach, traditional diagramming tools provide far too many options for customization. This becomes counterproductive to maintaining clarity, consistency and uniformity in client-facing visuals.
Like any organization, a strong brand image is important for law firms.
One way a compelling brand is expressed is through visuals - branded letterheads, presentation decks, and diagrams. While diagrams are meant to serve a function, how engaging and attractive they are matters. Studies have shown that, when presenting a business strategy, strong visuals can be more convincing, make the presenter seem prepared and experienced, and help build trust with the client.
With traditional solutions, attractive and engaging diagrams are possible, but take a great deal of time and effort. Practitioners can end up spending as much time on the strategic side of their work, as they do aligning shapes, choosing colors, and dragging text boxes around, stuck working on art projects instead of more meaningful work.
Law firms looking for growth avenues should consider updating their diagramming solution. Intelligent diagramming solutions provide a seamless experience that drives efficiency and quality, so that anyone with any level of experience can create professional-looking diagrams with ease.
Tools like Blue J Diagramming are purpose built for attorneys, by experienced attorneys, and reduces hours of work into minutes. With an intuitive platform and set of features built around the attorney’s workflow, even the most complex diagrams can be drawn together quickly and easily.
Time to upgrade your diagramming software? Let’s have a conversation.
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