Although nothing compares to 2020, 2021 still managed to deliver its fair share of challenges—from staying focused while working remotely to adjusting to industry changes or finding a work-life balance.
But in the spirit of making lemonade and implementing solutions to the challenges we do have some control over, we’ve compiled a list of top ten takeaways.
1. Change can come quickly
When the status quo suddenly isn’t an option, we have to adapt—and quickly. But what does that actually mean?
You’ll only get overwhelmed if you try to tackle everything at once. So instead, make decisions about your priorities, and take on one issue at a time.
2. Be prepared to work remotely
Whether you follow a remote, hybrid, or in-person work model, the need to work from home can arise quickly—such as with a team member testing positive for Covid—and it helps to be prepared.
One of the biggest issues with working from home for law firms is accessing data securely. Law firms can look to native cloud technology to address this, which lets the team securely access the information they need from anywhere, on any device.
3. Staff training is essential for security
With cybersecurity, internal security is just as critical as external security—and this is especially true if your employees are working from home, possibly on personal devices.
Start by implementing security policies that guide staff in whether or not they can work from personal devices, if they need to be using a VPN, and more. Likewise, bring the whole team in on regular training and education for common hacks like phishing. And it’s always a good idea to use secure password management.
4. Don’t rely on in-person collaboration
Whether it’s a client, another lawyer you contract with, or your accountant, in-person collaboration isn’t always an option these days.
To build rapport and solid communication online, encourage your team to take advantage of commenting and chat functions in your practice management system. Of course, you can also use video conferencing for a more personal touch.
And on a positive note, creating online task assignments can help reduce unnecessary meetings.
5. Productivity metrics support team accountability
When everyone was in the office together, it was easier to have a sense of whether or not your staff was staying on task by how busy they looked. But today, you may not be able to look across the room and see if someone’s working or reading the news.
Fortunately, productivity is easy to measure with metrics garnered from your practice management system. And metrics will go over a lot better with your team than micromanaging!
6. Stay on top of billing
Staying on top of billing is often an area where there’s room for improvement—both because it’s so easy to fall behind and because the consequences of falling behind are so significant. If a client doesn’t get a bill from you for over a month, they might think you’re not too worried about getting paid. The same holds true for following up with collections.
Be proactive by offering online payment options, employing automated reminders, and sending out clear and detailed invoices.
7. Keep your finger on the pulse of your firm’s financials
Your firm’s financials are an important and dynamic element of your business, and leveraging metrics from your practice management system can help you identify trends. But even if you feel your practice area has seen too many ups and downs lately to create much of a pattern to learn from, it’s still critical to regularly review firm expenses and accounting.
If you know where things stand, you can stay the course or reevaluate expense priorities and business goals.
8. Know when to outsource
There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything yourself. If there’s a regular task that requires expertise you don’t already have, outsource it. If you’ve implemented work-from-home solutions at your firm, you’ll be well set up to collaborate remotely with outsourced staff.
9. Get innovative about networking
Traditional networking went out the window in early 2020, and it has yet to make a comeback. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be networking, however.
Instead, get creative with virtual conferences and panels—or local pro bono work. Virtual networking is another change that seems here to stay!
10. Don’t lose team time to inefficiencies
The problems created by inefficiencies can be magnified if your team isn’t all in the office together every day. To address this, use metrics to identify time-suckers and check in with your staff to brainstorm creative solutions.
Likewise, look to automate repetitive tasks, such as document assembly or invoice generation, whenever possible.
Leverage modern tech for 2022
The takeaways from 2021 may mark some pain points for your firm, but you can address them by leveraging modern technology for law firms in 2022.