Developing a Law Office Procedures Manual
To run a successful law firm– whether it’s a solo practice or a large firm– you’ll need to not only excel in the areas of law you’re practicing in but also in all matters of running the practice itself. Running a legal practice comes with its own unique set of challenges that even the most prepared lawyer setting out to start a new practice may find themselves overwhelmed with. I’m here to help make the job of running your law office just a little easier. Welcome back to Mike’s Office Management Tips.
— Mike Campbell
A procedures manual provides everyone at your firm with policies, guidelines, and processes for the firm’s operation. Not only will it ensure that tasks are completed consistently and adequately, but it can also help optimize your work and improve clients’ experiences.
If you don’t have one yet, it’s time to get started. Let’s look at just what a procedures manual is, how you can create it, and why it’s so important to keep it updated.
What Is a Procedures Manual?
Whether you’re just starting your law firm or you’ve been operational for years, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive and easily digestible procedures manual. If you don’t, staff could struggle to properly do their jobs, and important filings and deadlines could be missed.
A procedures manual is also beneficial when you’re going through the hiring process. Not only will you have a guide to reference, so all staff members are trained the same way, but new employees can follow through the manual and learn their job more efficiently.
Creating a Law Office Procedures Manual
If you have yet to start creating a law office procedures manual, the sooner you dive in, the better. It can seem overwhelming at the start, so it’s best to create a single document where you can record all the daily processes and important tasks first.
Once you have the basics out of the way, take some more time to brainstorm what goes on in your firm on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Document how you currently acquire clients, what different workflows look like based on different positions, the financial systems you now have in place, and how you hire, staff, and manage your team.
When you break those processes down into steps, you’ll have the beginnings of your manual. Then, you can start figuring out how you want to structure the document. Most begin with a table of contents, so anyone who picks it up can quickly flip through and find what they’re looking for.
You’ll also benefit from including an organization chart, as well as business and emergency procedures. Not only will staff understand the firm’s structure, but they will also be prepared for all types of situations.
The Importance of Updating Your Law Firm’s Procedures Manual
Every time you make a change to your procedures manual, date it. Keeping track of the changes you make is crucial. Not only will it give you an idea of how your law firm is growing, but employees need to be aware of any and all changes so they can continue to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Your procedures manual should be a priority. You know how quickly things can change in the day-to-day at your firm, and keeping the manual updated will stop inaccurate work and frustration among your employees.
It’s easy to let time slip by without checking on your manual. To avoid letting it go for too long, schedule time each month to look over things. Get your team involved, as well. They’re well aware of what the firm needs to properly function, and they will have great ideas that can help you prosper as a business.
With the right law office procedures manual, you’ll discover your tasks are easier to manage, there are fewer questions regarding handling everyday occurrences, and you’ll ultimately be able to provide clients with even stronger legal representation.