Years of law school still can not prepare you for all of the tasks involved with running a practice, like billing and collections, legal accounting, and efficient practice management. Experienced lawyers striking out on their own and many new lawyers are often surprised by the number of administrative tasks associated with running a law firm. The key to not just surviving, but thriving, lies in using strategic productivity multipliers to make your firm more efficient and increase profit margins.
If you bill by the hour, then why should you care about doing things faster? Because not all tasks are created equal. Running an efficient office means you put in fewer non-billable administrative hours organizing your team or puzzling over client accounts and you put in more billable hours working that earn you money. If you are one of the growing number of law firms moving to alternate, flat-fee billing models, then the capacity to handle the same workload in less time than the lawyer next door means a greater profit margin for your practice. But it’s about more than being consistently busy.
As the workload increases, the initial instinct of many lawyers is to adopt processes that address specific items and issues as they occur rather than taking a step back to formulate a strategy where all processes work together from the beginning.
What the truly successful law firms use to get ahead are productivity multipliers: processes and methods that enhance each other to send your practice’s productivity skyrocketing.
You would expect that using two productivity-enhancing methods would be twice as efficient as using one, but with productivity multipliers using two methods might be four times as efficient. Using three methods might be ten times as efficient. As you begin to adopt more productivity multipliers, you create a cohesive practice management strategy rather than simply reacting to problems as they happen.
Productivity multipliers don’t just increase your profits, they allow you to handle matters more quickly and efficiently and provide better service to your clients. They can also help to minimize the chance you will commit unintended ethics violations, protecting you from audits and Bar Association censure. Using these multipliers will let you worry less about managing your practice, and allow you more time to practice law for your clients.
Here are the top nine methods and strategies that successful law firms use to stay productive. Adopting any one of these practices will help your practice, but put them to work all together to create an effective practice management strategy and drive your productivity through the roof.
You can adopt any one of these nine work-model components to greatly increase your law firm’s productivity but to really maximize their impact, combine them. For example:
There are a number of tactics you can apply to improve your firm’s productivity, but before moving to the solution stage take some time to think about a running list of all the firm’s inefficiencies or problems you have recently encountered. Then you can see where any single improvement may resolve multiple issues. Committing to this approach will get you the most out of your resources.
In the end, every lawyer and every law practice is unique. There is no single solution that can make your law firm 100% efficient. But with a little extra effort up front to establish your productivity multipliers and careful attention to documenting working processes, you’ll soon be able to spend less time managing your office and more time practicing law for your clients. Making you more productive and profitable than ever