4 Law Firm Management Strategies to Increase Employee Effectiveness
There are a few challenges that law firms of all sizes have in common. Most run at least a little on the lean side, making efficient and effective management vitally important. Getting all the work done, making clients happy, and generating profit means you need to maximize every employee’s potential.
Here are a few strategies to help you make your firm work better and optimize employee and staff productivity.
Effective Law Firm Management Strategy 1: Have a Law Firm Business Plan
A law firm’s success starts with its business plan. It’s easy to think a law firm is somehow bespoke, but the more like a business it’s run, the more successful it’s likely to be.
So make a plan. What are your strengths as a firm? How do you maximize them? What are you trying to do? How much are you wanting to make? What is your law firm marketing strategy? How much are you spending?
There are many fundamental questions your business plan should answer, and many goals it should set. How much do you want to net as profit this year? What are your growth goals? The business plan is probably the number one requirement from law firm leadership.
Some law firm business plans are very general and directional, and others are extremely focused with detailed objective. They’re a compass, of a sort, that directs everything you do. There’s a lot more to it than we’re covering here, but a business plan should be bespoke to every firm, and it’s really a topic of its own.
Effective Law Firm Management Strategy 2: Set Goals and Measure
Law firm management is more than simply creating a business plan and a budget and watching the bottom line. That’s a generally passive approach and one that does not identify problems or suggest solutions. You need to help your employees be productive.
One of the simplest – and most overlooked – things law firm managers can do to maximize employee effectiveness is to research and set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the staff and the firm itself. We’ve written extensively on KPIs for attorneys and paralegals, and it’s a good place to start.
We’ve also shared some information about setting KPIs for firms, and that’s a must-read for anyone who wants to better manage a law firm.
In order for KPIs to be successful, they need to be measurable. If you can measure it, you can manage it. This is where legal practice management software can help. Law firms have a lot of choices in this area, including GrowPath. One of the biggest benefits we offer is the ability to collect and analyze all of your firm’s data. That enables you to create and measure specific KPIs, and much more.
Set clear, reasonable goals and measure. This is a learning experience, so don’t be afraid to modify or change KPIs. Our own Eric Sanchez has several masterclass videos you might find helpful: just visit our resource page and search “masterclass.”
Effective Law Firm Management Strategy #3: Improve Your Technology
If you’re setting KPIs and want to measure them, technology is obviously going to help. Case management software. Law firm management software. There are a lot of names, but the legal industry has embraced technology in almost all aspects.
From an employee effectiveness standpoint, there are two keys things that really effective legal practice management software can help law firm leaders do.
1) Track, analyze, and optimize work flow.
Are your employees getting work done? Are they getting stuck? Are they overloaded? When you have a complete software platform in which all work is done, all work can be tracked. With the right analysis tools, you should be able to identify superstars, spot bottlenecks, and customize training to get more out of every employee at every level.
2) Enable the firm to function from anywhere.
A modern law firm has an opportunity that may not have seemed possible a few years ago: remote working. The obvious benefit is allowing employees to work from wherever they’re most productive, but the somewhat hidden benefit is widening the talent pool.
If you have software that truly enables efficient remote work, you are not limited to local talent – especially paralegals. While attorneys might need to be in the office regularly, paralegals might be able to perform 90% or more of their work from home. And if your case management system measures work efforts, you don’t have to worry about whether they’re slacking.
Essentially, your case management software can help you hire the very best and most effective employees.
Bonus Benefits of Law Practice Management Software for a Firm: Marketing Optimization
Legal industry marketing efforts are hampered by tons of rules and regulations limiting how and who can be contacted. From behind that 8-ball, your firm’s marketing needs to be highly effective – especially given the competition for clients.
GrowPath stands out in this area because of its marketing ROI and analytics capabilities. By analyzing data, from your marketing plan and media buy to information gathered at the client intake process, GrowPath can help managing staff:
- Eliminate wasted marketing initiatives to focus spending where it is most effective
- Focus spend on getting the high-value cases you really want
- Engage more prospective clients for the same or fewer marketing dollars
- Improve client experience with tailored, timely communications
The ultimate success of your law practice depends as much on your technology as it does on your collective skill at the practice of law. Whether you run a small law firm or a national partnership, demand more of the technology you choose. The better your software, the greater the possible boost to the bottom line.
Effective Law Firm Management Strategy #4: Focus on Client Satisfaction
If your firm does not measure or manage client satisfaction in some way, there’s trouble brewing. Law firms are businesses, and clients are their lifeblood. You should include this in your law firm business plan and address it specifically.
A client-centered law firm tailors its marketing to attract potential clients. It also tailors its practices and systems to serve current and future clients and increase and maximize their satisfaction. Practicing law doesn’t mean much without clients to practice for. Happy clients bring more clients.
Many law firms rely on results to produce satisfied clients, but there’s more to be done. Successful law firms are always asking for reviews – even before the case is concluded. Why? Because client satisfaction should happen at every touch point. Here are a few best practices:
- Use timely communication and callbacks to make clients feel valued, heard, and less stressed.
- Be transparent about the work you do and the mountains you’re climbing to increase client understanding and appreciation.
- Set conservative expectations and then crush them so clients understand the quality of the service you’re providing.
- Tell clients that their reviews are vital to your ability to help more people and make it easy for them to review your firm.
- Ask for referrals, follow up regularly – even with automated communication – to keep clients engaged.
Client satisfaction and client relations, in general, are key components to the success of any law practice. Most law firms don’t ask for reviews and referrals nearly enough, nor do they have any strategy for leveraging those positive vibes.
Successful Law Firm Management: Things We’ve Learned
Management is a study of trying, failing, and trying again. There are best practices, yes, but there are always opportunities to improve almost every component of the system. Managing a successful law firm takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn from both successes and failures.
Our experiences working with client firms show us that the systems and tools aren’t necessarily always in sync. Many are providing quality legal services, but behind the scenes, they’re “making it work” with systems, processes, and tools that are often deeply flawed.
Bad systems, processes, and tools need to be addressed by law firm management.
Learn From Others’ Mistakes
We hear a lot of feedback from our client firms, and every firm’s experience is unique. However, there are a few laments we hear fairly often, and if you’re managing a law firm – whether purely administratively or as a managing partner – you might find these eye-opening.
- Why are we accepting failure? Why are firms so blasé about working around flaws in systems, processes, and most often software? If your car breaks down, you fix it. If it breaks down too much, you replace it.
- Why were we so afraid of change when it was obviously needed? This isn’t limited to software. Any time a process or system needs changing, there’s resistance. Almost every law firm resists change until whatever is broken ultimately breaks everything else.
- Why did we wait so long? The longer you delay in fixing a problem, the more problems arise. And the longer you wait to make a necessary improvement, the more time and money you waste.
You Firm’s Success Depends on Your Management Skills
Your job isn’t just to manage employees and money. A lot of successful firm management depends on taking a broader perspective and managing more of what makes employees and money effective. That means getting your hands dirty and managing the systems, processes, and tools the firm depends on every day.
The little things matter in every law firm, and making them better sets you apart from the rest.
GrowPath is dedicated to making solutions that enable law firms to be more efficient, get more cases, and work them faster. We help law firm employees be more effective, and we help law firm managers grow their firms – profitably. That’s not a sales pitch. That’s a qualification for everything you just read. If you want the sales pitch, you can find it here.