When you’re running your own law firm, you’re under a lot of pressure. Not only must you ensure that you meet the needs of your clients, you must also appropriately market your practice to attract new business and manage the day-to-day business aspects. It’s certainly a lot to consider given we only have so many hours in a day. The good news is that while it is a lot of work, effective law firm management doesn’t have to be difficult.
Here’s how you can simplify the process.
Proper Planning Prevents Problems
Effective law firm management is automatically easier when you go through the process of creating a full management plan. As the saying goes, proper planning prevents problems. A law firm management plan includes several components:
- Short term goals
- Long term goals
- How you plan to meet the needs of your clients
- How and when office supplies should be handled
- The responsibilities of key law firm members
- Your hiring and firing policy
- An employee handbook
- Technology guidelines (including whether employees may bring and use their own devices)
- Timekeeping and billing procedures
Of course, that’s just a small sampling of what should be included in an effective law firm management plan. You may already be feeling the pressure of creating and implementing the plan. Don’t worry, though. Now it’s time for us to explain how you can make the entire process easier.
Get Feedback from Your Clients
One of the easiest and best ways to determine whether your law firm is meeting the needs of clients is to ask. If you took law firm management or even read a book related to the subject, you’ll most likely remember a law firm management theory known as total quality management (TQM). Under this theory, it is believed that clients will pay more for quality service. And clients define what quality means.
So, ask your clients. Where did your law firm meet their expectations? Where did it fall short? Is there anything that they feel could be improved? You can design your own questions. They can be provided in a manner that allows clients to respond without providing their identity. You could also call and ask these questions as a follow-up after services are rendered.
You can take the feedback from clients and integrate it into your law firm management plan to improve your services and operations.
Effective Law Firm Management Is Easier with the Right Tools
Long gone are the days of clunky intranet computers and checking a paper tickler file (and hoping that things were appropriately filed and labeled). We no longer have to dig through boxes and boxes of files in a giant storage closet or hope that paper messages aren’t lost. Technology has simplified effective law firm management.
Legal tech is nothing to be afraid of, either. There are a lot of free or low-cost options you can use as well. You can start simple by:
- Making use of your digital calendar. This simple tip can help you better track your deadlines, plan meetings, and keep track of your scheduled appointments. If you plan to use or already use legal practice management (LPM) software, look to see if the docketing and calendaring feature integrate with your digital calendar of choice. Then, you can update the LPM or your digital calendar and it should populate the other. Side note: it is important for you to check to ensure that everything is indeed feeding over.
- Go paperless or paperlite. Start using digital document storage management (DMS) that allows you to properly organize your documents (both by matter and your templates). Choose a DMS with a good search function and that integrates with your email so that you can easily store emails and their attachments. A DMS can make it easier and more secure for you to share documents with your clients.
- Consider using an online appointment calendar. Programs like Acuity make it easier for potential clients to schedule appointments with you. Many appointment calendars may be integrated into your website, but it may take a professional to help you make sure it works.
- Automate what you can. Automation, much like AI as a whole, has a bad reputation. This isn’t about taking away anyone’s job. You still need to ensure that the documents created or tasks performed are appropriate. Chatbots and even some LPMs can be used to automate the creation of certain commonly used documents.
Hire the Right People and Delegate
As a lawyer, your time is best used on the tasks that only licensed attorneys are allowed to perform. For effective law firm management, hire the right people. These are people who are technologically adept. You want to hire people who have the desire and drive to meet goals and make your clients happy. And after you hire your team? Delegate appropriately. Keep in mind that this does not mean that you can just turn your back on everything happening. You must fulfill your ethical obligation of providing appropriate supervision. Be available when there are questions or someone needs clarity. Be open when your team has comments or suggestions related to workflow and the office environment. Remember that they’re in the trenches every day. It’s normal (and good) that they have insight you can use.
Don’t micromanage your people. You have plenty to do. You must trust that you’ve put in the work and provided the right incentives to attract and keep the best people for your law firm’s future growth.
Simple Is Good!
In a time where we have more and more technology at our fingertips, it’s important to keep law firm management simple. Find the right tools and the right people who can help take your law firm to the next level!
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