Management of a law firm is no easy task. Not only are you dealing with the expectations of demanding clients, you are also handling the financial, ethical, and administrative demands of keeping your law office up and running. Effective law management is key to the profitability and longevity of a legal practice. Without it, necessary tasks and responsibilities can go unmet, leading to financial and ethical challenges.
The successful management of a law office is characterized by some specific traits. While each of these attributes is important in and of itself, it takes all of them to truly cultivate a successful legal practice.
Success starts at the top. Every member of the firm looks to leadership for guidance on how to conduct themselves when handling office business. Firm leaders need to provide a positive example for lower level attorneys and staff members to follow. Whether heading a staff meeting or speaking with clients, firm leaders are constantly being watched and emulated.
Ineffective and incompetent leadership can have an extremely negative effect on the entire firm, leading to such problems as:
- High staff turnover rates – Poor leadership often leaves employees feeling dissatisfied and unheard. Rather than deal with a negative environment, they choose to leave for employment elsewhere. High turnover rates can be costly for a firm. You lose valuable experience and knowledge, while having to spend extra money on hiring and training new employees.
- Poor client relationships – Poor firm management spills over into client relationships. When leaders are not providing adequate oversight to lawyers or paying attention to the level of service being provided, attorneys and staff members may fail to meet their responsibilities to clients. Telephone calls may go unanswered and important appointments may be missed. Poor client relationships can mean the end a legal practice.
- Lack of firm direction – Direction comes from the top. Part of the leadership role is creating objectives for the firm and developing a path to meet those long-term goals. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, how are you ever going to get anywhere?
Law firms are just as dependent on administrative tasks as they are on client matters. There must be people and processes in place to ensure that administrative responsibilities are handled in a timely, accurate, and efficient manner. This entails hiring support staff members who have adequate knowledge and experience to handle the tasks assigned to them. You also want to ensure that staff members have a temperament that fits into the culture of your firm. Effective law firm managers understand that the right administrative staff is a valuable asset to their legal practice.
Adequate support also requires systems that proficiently handle your administrative needs, without draining your time or financial resources. TimeSolv Legal Billing Software is one such system. Not only does it provide convenient and easy time tracking, but it also gives your staff with the ability to create quick and accurate client invoices. Using cloud-based technology, TimeSolv helps your firm handle administrative tasks efficiently and economically.
As I said before, firm growth requires proper planning. You will not become successful by simple luck. Most clients don’t just happen to walk through the door, and money doesn’t just fall into your bank account. You need to establish concrete goals for the firm and develop a plan for reaching them. The most successful law firms have plans for growth and understand the significant challenges that exist within a legal marketplace that is constantly changing and evolving. With a strategic plan, you can prepare for possible roadblocks and position your firm to best deal with fluctuations in the industry.
I touched on this earlier, but let’s dive in a little deeper. A well-run law firm consistently provides excellent customer service to each of its clients because successful practice management spills over into successful client services. This happens for a couple of reasons:
- Effective management creates a culture of high customer service. Attorneys and staff members recognize these expectations and work hard to meet them.
- Effective law firm management includes mechanisms to ensure that time is accurately tracked, so clients are billed correctly. This type of practice cuts down on client complaints. There are also processes in place to promote adequate client communications and efficient use of time to complete client tasks.
Proficient marketing plan
Marketing is the cornerstone of any successful business. How can you attract clients if they don’t know that you are there and what you have to offer? Effective practice management must include a marketing strategy that grows the firm, or at least maintains its profitability. A well-rounded marketing plan includes a web and social media presence, along with traditional marketing tools like television and/ or radio. Learn where your ideal client would likely look for an attorney and make sure you are available to be found. Effective law firm managers know that, if they are unsure about the best marketing direction, professional legal marketing firms are available for contract and assistance.
Effective law firm managers keep a constant eye on the firm’s health. These managers want to recognize issues before they turn into crippling problems and they know that this requires routine review of various metrics, including those that measure:
- Client satisfaction
- Billable hours
- Overhead costs
- Invoice payment
- Trust account balances and transactions
Effective law firm managers also know that TimeSolv makes these regular reviews easy to conduct. With more than 30 reporting capabilities, managers can quickly and easily review the firm’s health by simply running the reports they need. To learn more about TImeSolv and what all it can provide your law firm, click here for a free, no-obligation offer.
Effective law firm management doesn’t just fall into place without some effort on your part. Look at these common traits and identify any gaps you may have in your current management processes. Then, take the steps to fill them so you can proactively work to improve the health of your legal practice and ultimately increase your law firm profits.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a freelance writer with a passion for law. Through her business, The Legal Writing Studio, she helps legal professionals deliver effective written messages. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.