The Hidden Secret to Superior Law Firm Management
It is no secret the legal profession attracts a few difficult, ego-driven personalities. These personalities may lead to unsound business decisions and dampen firm morale. This situation can certainly create extra stress for law firm management. Some firms, however, use a secret weapon to counteract the personality problem. Specifically, they let the data speak for itself.
Law firms using an approach based on performance criteria are finding greater overall success. This is true in terms of both higher profits and happier employees. An approach of this type calls for an emphasis on talent, effort and achievement. For greatest effect, it is measured with verifiable KPIs.
Every firm should value its human capital for the asset that it is. While it may not appear directly on your balance sheet, human capital either brings tremendous value to your organization or it comes at a significant cost.
Human capital, the culmination of skills, knowledge and experience possessed by the people in your firm, influences productivity and morale one way or another. In ensuring that a firm’s human capital is reaching its full potential, management needs:
- To know that a law firm is a business and treat it as such.
- To understand the data that must be collected, how to analyze it and how to use it to drive better decisions.
- Help choosing the best talent available while assembling a team that is diversified and includes non-lawyer talent.
- A case management software that streamlines workflows and provides superior analytical reporting.
Your Law Firm as a Business
Many firms fail to understand that your law firm is a business and lose out on significant profits as a result. Managing partners and others in law firm management who study business concepts and philosophies and apply them to their law firm reap the greatest rewards. Successful business owners know their numbers.
You should be able to articulate the current status of your firm at any given time. The current status includes your case status, resource utilization, revenue projections, conversion rate of leads to clients and cost of operations.
The hidden secret to superior law firm management is data. Successful business owners understand the importance of data. Law firm management needs to recognize this as well.
Understanding Law Firm Data
Before you can understand and put your law firm data to work, you must collect it. This requires a practice management software that knows how to systematically collect and organize data. Data should encompass your firm’s marketing, human resources, and finances as well as your cases and documents.
By using GrowPath, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has amassed an enormous vault of data that can be mined for derivative cases. In addition, this data can be used in future marketing efforts and aid in litigation and settlement efforts.
“No other firm like it,” declares Walt Wood, an attorney focused on litigation with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in Durham, North Carolina. “We routinely talk about processes, look for unnecessary repetition and determine where we can cut out steps.”
Employing the “Lean Initiative,” as referred to in the firm, the entire team works to uncover areas of unnecessary delay in resolving cases more quickly. Jim Farrin, CEO, values efficiency so much he led a team of collaborative legal minds and engineers to create the software from scratch. He knew what his firm needed to run at its best. Since the marketplace did not provide it, he created it.
The Inception of GrowPath
After several years of using the software at Farrin, the law firm management team concluded it was something that could provide a valuable benefit to other firms. They therefore created GrowPath in 2017 as a scalable stand-alone software company. For the first time, the team could share this technology with the broader legal marketplace.
The software focuses on three main components. These components are perfecting the intake process, case management and providing superior analytical reporting tools. These superior analytical tools, in turn, help firms collect and understand the right data to grow and prosper.
Some of the custom reports included in GrowPath:
–Buzzwords™ allows you to find derivative cases within your existing caseload data. The technology prompts your staff to ask the right questions at the right time when a potential matter arises during a conversation.
-Gravity Reports show how balanced the paralegal and attorney workload is at any given time. Reports draw on status of each case, tasks completed and complexity of the caseload. Because a custom algorithm is designed for each firm, you can configure the software to your workflows.
-One Screen Approach™ allows law firm management to view the entire firm’s performance from a single, intuitive dashboard.
The best part of using data, the hidden secret of superior law firm management, is that data does not care about personalities. It speaks for itself. Focus on your firm’s metrics and the health of the business — not the ego — and your firm will thrive.
The Importance of Human Capital
With the metrics in place, there is an art to ensuring that your firm’s human capital is collectively living up to its potential. That art includes being nimble, choosing top talent, building people up and ensuring diversification.
Choosing the best talent for your firm not only means hiring people with the right skills and experience, but also ensuring your firm is diversified and that you include non-lawyer talent in the equation. Lawyers should not be wearing too many hats in the firm. Non-lawyer talent such as marketing professionals, intake specialists and comptrollers can showcase their expertise in ways that a lawyer cannot.
Identify your firm’s key values and make sure each candidate for employment understands and possesses those values. Jim Farrin values a combination of diligence, good attitude and the ability to be a team player. This type of employee is a true shining star in the office who knows how to make valuable contributions.
Being a nimble firm is necessary especially in an industry like plaintiffs’ work, which is constantly fighting the political giants who side with the insurance companies against the injured. Looking at each individual’s skills and talents and making sure he or she is in the right position or assigned to the right projects or tasks benefits the individual as well as the firm as a whole.
Use performance metrics to build people up and look for opportunities to utilize talent in the best ways. Make sure you have a diversified team for better perspectives and a broader range of ideas and creativity. Foster a culture of acceptance and promote the sharing of ideas for constant ways to improve.
Like Walt Wood mentioned, “No other firm like it.” He says the Farrin team actively looks at how to get better all the time.
Case Management Software – The Tool That Brings It All Together
In today’s digital, fast-paced environment, old technology simply will not suffice. Having case management software that seamlessly integrates the necessary components of law firm management is the only way to keep track of all the details needed to manage and grow a 21st-century law firm.
The Farrin firm implemented GrowPath several years ago and Walt Wood describes a few of his favorite features:
“I used to do receipt disbursals by hand and it was extremely labor-intensive. Now I click on one icon in GrowPath and the information pulls in automatically. It flows perfectly. That feature saves us up to half an hour each time we use it.”
“The case header at the top of the screen is such a lifesaver. It is extremely difficult to remember all the details of each case in a fast-paced environment. The case header banner is designed to give a summary of the case and immediately refresh your mind on case dynamics so you can speak intelligently about any case quickly.”
“GrowPath is so intelligent that it ties certain functions to certain events. For example, if I return from mediation and we were not able to settle, GrowPath automatically transitions the case to the trial prep status and lists the appropriate tasks associated with the next steps.”
“The best simple tangible example of GrowPath’s efficiency is the phone icon. I click it and immediately call the contact and document the call. The time it takes to search for a number and dial is eliminated and that really adds up over time. I use that function countless times each day.”
To best use data in law firm management, you need the right software as well as an innovative attitude that respects your human capital and readily applies business concepts. With this combination, you possess the hidden secret to superior law firm management and your firm will thrive. Want some assistance in choosing software to help your firm? Consider this resource: Choosing the Best Legal Case Management Software.
Ted Seward is GrowPath’s Vice President of Marketing, joining its executive leadership team in 2019. Ted is responsible for all marketing and initiatives at GrowPath including growth through the development and execution of the marketing/sales strategy, brand awareness, lead generation, and business development.