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
Managing a law firm is no easy task. Not only do you have to meet the expectations of clients, but you also need to have the resources and skills to handle the financial, administrative, and ethical demands required to keep your firm up and running. Successful management is often characterized by specific traits—which are the key to profitability and longevity. Let’s take a look at those qualities and how you can improve your law firm management abilities.
How to Be an Effective Leader
To effectively run a law firm, you need to be a leader. Successful leadership involves a number of qualities, including:
- Communication Skills. As an attorney, you need to be able to effectively communicate with a variety of different people on different levels. You need to know how to adequately express ideas and necessary information to people when they’re looking for guidance. Remember that a big part of successful communication is remaining authentic.
- Sound Judgment. Not every client you encounter will be levelheaded. Some have been through incredibly traumatic events that have clouded their judgment. When you can think about problems and challenges logically, you’ll be able to provide better legal representation.
- Creativity. Creative leaders are able to implement unique methods to accomplish tasks and overcome obstacles. With creativity, you’ll also be able to encourage innovative thoughts amongst those that you work with.
- Integrity. Demonstrating integrity is important—especially in the legal field. You’ll be able to convey a sense of consistent and uncompromising commitment to your staff and clients. People will not follow a leader they cannot trust.
While possessing all of those qualities and improving them will make you an effective leader, you also need to consider the people you surround yourself with.
Finding the Right Administrative Support
All law firms are dependent on administrative tasks to manage clients’ cases properly. In order to handle those tasks in a timely, accurate, and efficient manner, it’s important to have the right people and processes in place.
When you’re looking to hiring support staff members, you not only want to ensure they have adequate knowledge and experience with what will need to be completed, but you also want to make sure staff members have a temperament that fits into the future of your law firm.
In addition to finding the right administrative support staff, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the rights systems and programs that won’t put a drain on your finances or time. You may want to look into billing software, scheduling programs, and more.
The Importance of Planning and Review
There’s a lot of planning that goes into building a successful law firm. Most of the time, clients won’t just walk through the door. If you haven’t already, sit down and establish concrete goals for the firm and develop a plan to meet them. Successful law firms have plans for growth and recognize that the legal field’s significant challenges are always changing and evolving. A strategic plan can help you prepare for potential hurdles and deal with fluctuations in the industry.
In addition to planning for success, it’s important to step back every so often and review how you’re managing your law firm. You’ll want to take a look at factors like profitability, client satisfaction, billable hours, overhead costs, invoice payments, and trust account balances and transactions.
Whether you use certain software to review your law firm’s progress or you sit down with your team and go over those factors, take a look at where you are and where you’re going. If you see a need for changes, it’s best to implement those as quickly as possible.
Effective law firm management doesn’t just fall into place. Lawyers need to put in the effort to ensure success. If you can identify the qualities discussed above in yourself, or you’re able to grasp what you need to do to obtain those qualities, you can proactively work to improve your law firm’s management process.