Running a law firm means always being on the lookout for ways to improve. The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to look back on the last twelve months and implement changes to set yourself up for an even more successful year. With just a few resolutions, you can have more time to spend on billable tasks, feel less stressed about profitability, and rest assured that your firm is being as efficient as possible.
1. Eliminate preventable loss of income
While there are unavoidable expenses that come along with having a law firm, many firms are losing out on money unnecessarily. One of the biggest culprits is leakage, where billable time doesn’t make its way onto an invoice. Whether it’s because of a lack of proper time entry or improper billing, missed time can quickly add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
Just tracking your billable hours isn’t enough though. If you’re not also tracking your expenses, especially reimbursable ones, then you’re cutting into your profits.
Unpaid invoices are another frequent source of lost income. Retainers and keeping track of Work-in-progress (WIP) can be a helpful way to limit the loss of revenue when clients don’t pay.
2. Take ownership of your compliance
Many firms leave staying compliant up to their bookkeeper and don’t check in since they trust they’re doing their job appropriately. This is a risky move, considering that whoever commits a compliance violation at a law firm, it’s always the lawyer who takes responsibility for what happened. With trust accounting violations resulting in sanctions and being disbarred, firms should focus this year on requiring regular reporting from their bookkeepers and reviewing it to ensure compliance.
Using legal-specific software designed to prevent trust accounting mistakes and reduce risk is another way firms can gain more control over their compliance in 2020.
3. Improve client engagement
Clients want to know what’s happening with their case, so focus on improved and more frequent communication to give them peace of mind that you’re focused on their matter. The right practice management program can be a big help here, keeping all client-centric information in one location to make it easy to see case details. Some practice management programs also have client portals where you can securely communicate with your client, giving another piece of value for them.
Remembering to update clients, especially when there’s no case activity, can be difficult. Make it easy for yourself and set up recurring calendars reminders as needed. Time spent keeping clients happy is worth every second – satisfied clients can be an excellent source of referrals.
4. Automate when possible
Technology has the power to turn hour-long tasks into minutes. This year, focus not only on what parts of your job you can automate, but also where it can help improve the workflows of your staff. Sit down with your team for a few minutes and see where they’re losing the most time to figure out opportunities for automation.
Using the right tools, you’ll be able to save time and improve accuracy.
5. Prioritize regular data analysis
Law firms are businesses, with financial data, trends and strategic decisions to make. With the busy day to day of keeping a practice running, many lawyers find themselves rolling through one month to the next without assessing any reports or metrics. To see how the firm can improve and grow at a significant rate, law firms have to make the creation and review of these reports a routine part of their operations.
6. Focus on what you do best and delegate the rest
Delegating tasks is one of the hardest parts of having a law firm. But successful lawyers know they can’t do it all and their time is best spent representing clients and focusing on high-level legal tasks. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, so delegate administrative tasks to free up your time for billable work.
7. Embrace modern technology
Clients have high expectations, and with increasing responsibilities and a limited amount of time, the use of technology can ease the burden of keeping up. The most notable trend for law firms embracing technology to improve their firm has been the transition from traditional server-based IT to cloud-based programs, giving their lawyers mobility and more features while cutting down on IT costs.
This single resolution, to embrace modern technology, can address all of the other resolutions we’ve covered. Tools built for the legal community are meant to create efficiencies and make life easier, and using the right ones can make all the difference for your firm.
Set the bar high for 2020
If you’re feeling inspired by our list of 2020 resolutions for your firm, now’s the time to take action. Make a plan to evaluate your firm’s inefficiencies and gaps and figure out what you can do to make improvements. It’s never too late to do things differently!
For an in-depth look into how you can implement these resolutions in 2020, check out our full webinar, 7 Resolutions for Your Law Practice in 2020.