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 to Mike’s Office Management Tips.
— Mike Campbell
Adjusting to working during the pandemic has been filled with problem solving, troubleshooting, and trial and error to find a viable way to continue to run a law firm despite the deterrents from COVID-19. While your law firm may have found a working system, you may be searching for tools and other methods you can implement to increase productivity, focus on your firm’s values, and use these as the foundation to provide your clients with the legal services they deserve. Taking a comprehensive look at the various tasks your firm completes on a daily basis can provide insight on how you can keep everything running efficiently.
Give Employees the Tools to Succeed
When employees are working from home, they need the tools to complete their tasks and the lines of communication need to be open. It can be difficult to stay on the same page when everyone isn’t in the same office environment, but this is paramount to maintain a steady workflow.
Consider the various types of employees in the firm and their responsibilities, you may want to research technology that can help streamline their work and save time. This may be different for each job title, considering lawyers, paralegals, record clerks, legal secretaries, IT, bookkeepers, managers, and other types of law firm employees all have unique responsibilities.
Automation may be the key that saves workers time on tasks, so they can move on to other projects instead of losing that time to doing everything manually. There are tools for many kinds of legal tasks that can help with the following:
- Reviewing documents and contracts
- Tracking time
Consider that those who have not used these systems before may require training. While it may take some time for the training process, they’ll come out of the experience educated and comfortable with the technology, which can mitigate the chances of mistakes or other issues in the future.
Maintain Internal Communication
Communication is key for a law firm. Sometimes, e-mail may not be quick enough when you need to handle something. Using a chat client that allows people to directly message those they need to contact and resolve the matter can save a lot of time waiting for others to check their inbox.
These chat clients will also likely have a way to send a message to everyone, which can help with keeping the team updated and on the same page.
Take Advantage of “Down-Time”
If there are moments of down-time in between trials, you can use this time to your advantage. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on housekeeping work. These tasks may not be geared toward preparing for a case, but they can help with organization and accuracy, which could save time in the future.
Some housekeeping tasks could include file purging and updating client lists. Digitizing physical files allows everyone who needs access to these files can do so from their computer. The physical files will also not be taking up space and cluttering at-home workspace. Updating client lists is also important as well. Going through and making sure the contact information is accurate can avoid confusion in the future. It could be extremely helpful to digitize this information as well. When client lists are in an easily accessible spot, then the person who needs the information won’t have to contact others to get the information they need.
In addition to cleaning up files, down-time also allows employees to brainstorm about ways to improve the firm. Perhaps someone learned about new technology that could save the company time, or someone has an idea for how to facilitate better communication between the firm and clients.
If the website needs an update, this is a great time to focus on what the website needs. Are there new attorneys who need to be added to the website? Perhaps your firm is adding another practice area and you need a page for it. You could also use this time to make aesthetic changes if you want to give your website a fresh, clean look.
Try to look at your website from the perspective of someone seeing it for the first time. Is the information direct, easy to navigate, and can you quickly find the contact information? Making sure your site has these components can help your business continue to thrive.
While you’re looking at your website, you may also consider the strength of your online presence. In addition to having a website with regular posts, it’s also important to be on social media. Take a look at your firm’s social media accounts and see if the information is updated and there are regular posts that can help promote your firm. If someone is researching your firm, they may seek information or reviews from your social media. Just like with your website, look at your social media accounts from the eyes of someone looking for help. This could inform any changes you want to make.
Down-time also provides time for internal marketing, where the firm can emphasize and promote its values to those who work there. This could give newer employees a clear look at the firm’s goals and values and an encouraging refresher to those who have worked there for longer.
When everyone keeps these values in mind, it can shape the way they approach their work, whether this means having a new perspective on how to complete a task, help facilitate better communication between colleagues, or inspire employees to have a new idea that could add value to the firm.
While the pandemic has presented law firms with a set of challenges, there are ways to rise to the occasion and continue to run a successful law firm. Productivity is so much more than completing tasks, it’s about completing them in an efficient way and keeping everyone with the same goal in mind: to provide the best legal services for the clients. When you’re adaptable, willing to take a step back, and try new ideas, you’ll find the methods that work for you so your firm can be as productive as possible during this time.