Using Individual Productivity Data to Improve Law Firm Operations

As I mentioned in my first post on productivity, tracking performance against KPIs gives me an idea of who my best people are. But I want to go much deeper than that. I want to know why they are the best at what they do. I want to study our data to see what our best people do and use that to build best practices. I also want to look for negative outliers, which shows me who may be struggling and needs attention.

Here are some of the data points I use.

  • How long are lawyers, paralegals, and other support staff spending on calls? I look for outliers.
  • Are some calls too abbreviated? Or do some people appear to be unable to control the conversation by staying on the phone too long? Outliers may indicate we may have to have some coaching conversations.
  • What do call lengths look like for my best people?
  • When entering information in our software for cases, what tasks are people spending their time doing? How long are certain tasks taking? Again, the data is available to me upon demand, so I can study it. Where are my outliers?
  • Who is spending an unusually long time on certain tasks? Why is that?
  • And, more importantly, how do my best people spend their time? How long does it take them to make a note in the system after talking to a client? How do they organize their day? I can review this because I have a complete trail of what everyone has done and when. A record of, not just what work product they produced, but which screens they opened, and for how long. What they were reading. I have powerful information available, on demand, which most law firms can’t produce, even if they can dream it.
  • Having productivity data on demand gives me a competitive advantage, because I can build my best practices across practice areas and job descriptions, based on actual data.

DEEPER DIVES EVALUATE EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE

Unfortunately, all of us who run law firms have had times when we developed apprehensions about certain employees. Maybe their numbers didn’t look good. Maybe another employee said that they weren’t pulling their weight. Maybe we just had a sense that “something isn’t quite right.”

In these situations, I want to take a discreet deeper dive. I don’t want to alarm anyone, because I am just checking things out. If there is no problem, the data can serve to correct my impression and I can remain fair to the employee. But, if there is something wrong, I want to know about it. And the sooner, the better. Fortunately, I can get key information from my software so that I can proceed confidently and discreetly.

Don’t misunderstand. We don’t want to create a paranoid workplace. Quite the opposite. I simply believe in the “trust, but verify” axiom. And the fact that employees know that I can take a deeper dive and check out their activities makes them much more likely to stay in line with the standards our firm expects. When they do that, everybody wins.

What Do I Look for in a Performance Deep Dive?

One of the first things I look for in evaluating an employee with a deeper dive is integrity violations.  With our software, I have a complete and permanent record of every change that’s been made to a case in our software. If something is erased, I have a record of it. Have they changed any notes after the fact to make themselves look better in retrospect?  That’s a great audit trail. To be fair, there may be good reason why a note was changed. The point is, I can see when notes were altered, and evaluate if they were done for good reason. On the other hand, I can also see if someone is engaging in CYA behavior to try to hide something.

Another integrity violation can be misreporting time. This can be a particular problem when someone works remotely. How do I know that they are putting in the time they report when I can’t observe them, particularly if their numbers are down?

Again, with our software, I can instantly obtain a report of everything they did in the case management software on any day. What cases did they work on? What did they do? For how long? I don’t have to ask them (and get a defensive response). I can simply access the software and see for myself. If I see there is a potential problem, I have factual data to present to that individual. I no longer have to rely on someone’s word. I can verify at any time.

Deep Dives Uncover Issues of Effort and Competence

Sometimes issues are about effort and/or competence. These things can also be unearthed through a deep dive. Are some employees spending less time actively using the software than they should? If so, why? Is it because they are on excessive breaks or maybe talking too much around the office? I can see that at a glance.

If someone is spending too long on various tasks, and not accomplishing what they should, that could signal a lack of competence, which the data supports. I know from the KPIs that someone is not a great performer, but the deeper dive shows me why they are falling short. If it is a training issue, the data allows me to focus on what training this individual needs to bring them up to speed.

A LAW FIRM IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS PEOPLE

As law firm managers, we need to know who is doing what. That information can give us peace of mind when things are going well. And being able to spot problems early on gives us a chance to fix them before they spiral out of control.

Sound, objective data is key to driving performance.

By having certain data at our fingertips (quite literally), top performers can be easily identified, and reinforced and rewarded, based on objective KPI criteria. This helps to motivate them and, I believe, compels them to want to stay and become even better at their craft. By studying how they work you can identify proven best practices and apply them to other teams.

Sound, objective data can be an invaluable training aide.

Finally, good data can help you make the right decisions when you have a nagging feeling that someone might be struggling or not a fit. Making those judgments can be difficult. It’s a solemn responsibility. You want to be fair; livelihoods are in your hands. But you also don’t want to be taken advantage of, or to be unaware of performance issues in your midst.

Unearthing factual and objective data from a deep dive helps you make those difficult decisions with confidence. The data can tell you when to back off, when to try to correct a problem with training, or when you have to take more serious steps. Armed with sound, objective data, you have the facts that give you the supporting ammunition you need to make the right calls for the good of your business – and for the good of clients and employees who rely on you.

Jim Farrin is CEO of GrowPath.  He is also Founder and President of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.  His law firm has recovered more than $750 million for more than 30,000 clients over the last 20 years.

Law Firm Client Intake Software: GrowPath vs. Captorra

If you’re reading this, chances are you already have or are considering dedicated intake software like Captorra. That tells me you understand the importance of client intakes in growing a law practice. You understand that finding, engaging, and signing new clients is what drives your law firm’s success. And like any industry leader, you also understand competition. You want to keep your law firm ahead of those like yours by using the best possible tools for the job.

So if there were software that does everything Captorra does, but with more features, better usability, and a lower price, you would want to know about it. You’d want to see how Captorra compares and make sure this new software would fit your needs, but if this new software would take your competitive edge and sharpen it further at no additional cost, you’d be all over it.

How GrowPath Intake Compares to Captorra

Allow me to introduce you to GrowPath Intake, the software my firm relies on to handle all our incoming cases. We looked at Captorra and rejected it and built our own software.  We wanted something even better.  GrowPath Intake does everything Captorra does to help you connect with clients quickly, but also has these advantages:

Customizable Lead Scoring System

One of the most important parts of intake is identifying high value cases. GrowPath allows you to score your own case leads so you can prioritize the ones that are most important. Using criteria you assign, GrowPath automatically generates a numerical score for new intakes. This means you can immediately measure the quality of your intakes so you know where to focus.  This also has the added advantage of giving you an objective idea on what the quality level is of the cases you are signing.

Revenue-Generating Buzzword Technology

One thing that really sets winning law firms apart is looking closely at intake and finding cases inside existing cases. A “hidden case” might be a potential mass tort from a medical device recall, but the caller is calling for a medmal case.   To help your firm find these hidden cases, GrowPath offers a feature called Buzzwords.  You set Buzzwords so that as your team takes notes on a case, when a key term appears, like mesothelioma, a Buzzword pops up and prompt staff to ask follow up questions, rather than missing the opportunity.

Easy Integration with Your Firm’s Systems

When you add new software, you want to know it will work well with your firm’s other technology like your website, email system, chat, call centers, and case management. GrowPath delivers seamless connection with these systems without requiring your staff to endlessly copy and paste data.

Integrated Document Management

A great intake process depends on reliable document access and storage. With GrowPath, all documents associated with intakes (like police reports or photos) are stored in the intake record. This means you never need to navigate outside of the intake to view key documents.

Automatic Capture of Communications

Great intake depends on great communication. That’s why GrowPath lets you send texts and emails to potential clients from inside the software, and then stores these messages and client responses in the intake record!  You won’t have to copy and paste between multiple programs and risk losing a key message.

Deep Analysis of Marketing ROI

Marketing drives your intakes, but you need to know if you’re spending your budget in the right place. GrowPath’s marketing analytics show you how your ad buys across all channels compare to the number of intakes they create. This lets you quickly generate marketing reports showing cost per lead and cost per case by channel in each hour of the day, giving you a clear picture of marketing performance.

Seamless Report Generation and Intake Monitoring

To know how effective your intake department is, you need to measure performance and review the results instantly. GrowPath’s analytics keep track of every new case in your system, and self-generate reports on any process or case you want. You set the parameters, and GrowPath will email you reports on any intakes you designate. This lets you watch selected intakes closely to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks and ensure that the right follow up action is taken.

Continuous Innovation and Lasting Value

When you invest in software, you want to know the company behind it will continue to make that software better. This is why it matters that GrowPath Intake owns its own code and doesn’t build on Microsoft Dynamics or any other third party software. That means that GrowPath can innovate faster and keep prices lower.

Speaking of pricing, GrowPath Intake charges a flat $59 per user per month for your entire law firm. Compare that to what Captorra charges per user (not to mention their steep implementation costs).

Keep Your Firm’s Competitive Edge with GrowPath

I’ve relied on GrowPath Intake for four years, and it has helped my firm become one of the most successful law firms in the country in a very difficult jurisdiction. Beyond all the features I mentioned, GrowPath offers me peace of mind. I know nothing is falling through the cracks, my staff is empowered with the tools they need, and I have readily-available data to prove my intake department is running smoothly.  And now this game-changing intake software is available to law firms like yours who know the importance of intake, and who don’t want to settle for second-rate solutions.

If you’re a Captorra user, the best part is you can transition to GrowPath immediately at no additional cost: For a limited time, GrowPath is willing to buy you out of your Captorra contract. This takes the cost consideration off of the table, so the debate is where it should be: which intake software is better for your firm? Schedule a demo of GrowPath Intake today to find out.  I think you will agree with me that it’s not even close.

Jim Farrin is CEO of GrowPath.  He is also Founder and President of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.  His law firm has recovered more than $750 million for more than 30,000 clients over the last 20 years.