The start of the new year gives us all – including lawyers – the morale boost to reset old habits. If you’ve been thinking of making a change or want 2021 to be your best year yet, there’s a clear path to making it happen.
Follow these seven resolutions to nix the time-wasting practices you’ve been meaning to change and replace them with more streamlined workflows for 2021.
1. Recognize and eliminate avoidable income loss
Many things eat into a firm’s income. And it’s easy not to notice how they add up until you step back and consider the big picture. Fortunately, some forms of income loss are preventable.
To start, take advantage of modern tools. Instead of letting ten or fifteen minutes of billable time slip away, track your hours – an easily achievable goal with most practice management systems.
Likewise, track your expenses. Don’t forget to bill clients for costs covered by the firm on their behalf.
And speaking of bills, make sure to leverage tools in your billing and collections processes, too. Automated reminders for overdue accounts can help you stay on top of what’s owed before the process drags on too long and strains the firm’s finances.
2. Step up client communications
Client outreach is another area where we all have good intentions – and where it’s easy to fall short, even though we understand clients keep the firm going.
Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, set up recurring reminders to engage clients with new communications and updates. Make client engagement part of your routine.
3. Stay on top of compliance
Compliance is your responsibility – and your license. Request regular reporting from your bookkeepers for review and stay on top of monthly reconciliation.
In the event of an audit, you’re the one who faces consequences if these records and trust account balances don’t adhere to the regulations set by your local Bar Association. Know your options for legal-specific tools to help you stay compliant. After all, they’re designed specifically to prevent trust account errors.
4. Streamline workflows with automation
Take advantage of modern practice management systems and automate repetitive tasks. Not only will this save you and your staff time, but it reduces the chance for error.
Through batch billing, evergreen retainer reminders, eliminating double data entry, and other forms of automation, you can free up staff time for more valuable endeavors and streamline workflows.
5. Respect your time by outsourcing
You can charge the hourly rates you do because of your specialized education and training. Your time is valuable. And often, the farther you deviate from work hours that utilize your law degree, the less you earn for them.
This isn’t to say that you can’t do certain administrative tasks or write that bi-monthly client outreach blog. But delegating those projects to others opens the door for greater productivity in areas with a higher financial return.
6. Harness the power of data
Regular data analysis and review may be a chore – but it’s the only way to gain a bird’s eye view of monthly and annual trends.
With the benefit of tools, gathering data doesn’t have to be a time-suck. Make data analysis a priority to see where you’re at and how you got there. This sets the foundation for smart goals and plans for the future.
7. Use technology for greater efficiency
If 2020 has highlighted anything in the working world, it’s the value of good tech. Last spring, modern technology helped firms adjust to the new normal of fully remote working. And while we’re all hoping for a better 2021, some working life changes wrought by the pandemic are here to stay.
If there’s one resolution you stick with in 2021, make it this one. Learn about modern technology options and how to use them. Tools created specifically for law firms are made to reduce risk and enhance efficiency. And like all modern tech, they’re designed to be intuitive.
A small time investment in tech education now will save you in the long run.
Use the momentum of a new year to make the changes that will lead to a more efficient and productive 2021.
Learn more about setting your law firm’s 2021 resolutions by watching this on-demand webinar.