Some people love New Year’s resolutions. Others can’t stand them.
Regardless of where you fall on making plans for better habits in your personal life this January, now is a great time to make plans for better habits in your law firm. And not only in the sense that a new year equals a fresh start.
You’ve just wrapped up your fiscal year. So no matter how you feel about resolutions, now is a great time to implement changes at your firm – because you’ll be able to measure the results.
Take Advantage of Good Tech
Remote working in 2020 has forced people to rely on technology in a way they never would have considered before. But even so, there are actually more tools available than many lawyers realize. And paying a set monthly fee for a practice management system that automates repetitive and administrative tasks can save valuable time.
Good tech can help by eliminating double data entry, streamlining client intake and conflict checks, sending out batched bills, or generating reminders to clients when retainer balances get low.
Not only do these tools preserve time for billable tasks, but they also reduce the likelihood of error. And good practice management systems have legal-specific safeguards that help prevent costly mistakes in areas such as trust accounting – and help keep you compliant.
Don’t Lose Out on Billable Hours
Having more billable hours in a day often lies at the core of firm productivity goals. The obvious answer here is to track your time. And in the era of cloud-based technology, it’s easier than ever to have a program that you can access from anywhere, at any time – and even on your mobile device.
This is a great approach to preventing those ten or fifteen-minute increments from slipping away. And the flexibility has been especially helpful at a time when many of us are working from home.
But it’s also important to track your non-billable hours. But why? Read on and we’ll share exactly why it’s so important!
If you want more billable hours in a day, you need to better understand how you’re spending that non-billable time.
Modern practice management systems allow you to track and gather all kinds of data about your firm’s operations. You don’t have to spend time tallying things on paper. And analyzing the results will show you information about overarching patterns that can’t be discovered any other way.
When setting goals, we like to talk about best practices. But the only way to determine which practices are actually effective is by measuring metrics.
Try a Non-competitive Comparison
As you gain a clearer picture of your firm’s patterns, it may help to compare the structure of your days and weeks with another attorney’s – ideally someone you trust and who operates in a similar practice area but isn’t a direct competitor. A friend from law school who works in a different city might be a good choice.
Track a few weeks – including those non-billable hours – and compare how you’re spending your days. It’s surprisingly easy to assume our way of doing things is the only way. And it can be really refreshing to find out it’s not.
Delegate for Efficiency’s Sake
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should do tasks just because you can. It takes dedication and focus to become a lawyer – and it’s common to feel you should apply those traits to busting through office chores.
But remember – people pay for your time because of your specialized training. So use it. And recognize that it may be more efficient to pay someone else to complete tasks, such as marketing, that take up too much of your time or energy.
All of the recommendations in this article require an up-front time investment – and that’s often the hurdle to implementing these changes. But once you start, they can save you far more time than what you initially put in.
So take advantage of a fresh (fiscal) page and make changes now for a more productive 2021.