Productivity blockers can inhibit a law firm’s profitability and efficiency.
In my role at Cosgrove Associates, I often act as an interim office manager for client law firms. By taking on a wide variety of responsibilities, including human resources, facilities management, and marketing co-ordination, I’m able to identify the recurring issues that prevent a firm from reaching its potential.
Typically, problem areas fall into one of four broad categories: systems, time management, technology and support staff, or marketing.
Getting rid of these productivity blockers makes for a happier, more productive and more profitable workplace.
In this, the second of a two-part series, I’ll explain how law firms can get the most out of their technology and support staff, as well as their marketing efforts.
Technology and support staff
In an ideal situation, law firms will have a reliable IT support person or team on-site in order to address equipment failure and troubleshoot problems as expediently as possible.
You never know when something is going to happen which could potential grind your day to a halt.
In addition, the compatibility of new software with the firm’s existing platforms should be a factor to consider when making new purchase decisions. Someone who is experienced in troubleshooting will save you time.
For example, sometimes you need your third party software to work in tandem with your accounting package, and if it doesn’t, then it’s can be big waste of time. You don’t want to be creating a document on one application, and then copying it over to duplicate it in another program just to store your records.
It’s best to do a trial of the product first to see if it performs adequately. IT should also be on top of updating software as needed. You don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t move forward due to the new version not being installed in a timely fashion.
Most firms will benefit from having a single person with responsibility for lease renewals and service issues to keep office equipment operating efficiently.
When it comes to support staff, they need to be skilled at the job you need them to do. If they’re not, provide the necessary training, and if they’re making errors, address them early on with examples and show them how to improve.
A law firm’s marketing plan will depend on their size, needs and budget, but all lawyers should have one.
In smaller firms, it’s better to be focused and realistic with a plan that encourages all lawyers to contribute in a way they are most comfortable.
If you’ve got someone who doesn’t like public speaking, then perhaps they can write a blog. Find a way to get them involved because if you come up with an unrealistic, overly grand plan, it’s going to be easier for people to just ignore it.
We will often write a very modest plan based on what the lawyers like to do, and how much revenue they need to bring in, and then work towards those goals.
It’s also important for lawyers to treat their marketing plan like a client file and follow up and track progress in order to “keep the funnel full” of new business. Effective evaluation can also help lawyers identify their most valuable clients and pursue others who are similar.
Check your client list regularly so you can identify the ones who are giving you repeat business and make sure you acknowledge your appreciation. Even encourage them to refer you to their friends or family.
If you missed it: Read Part One here