Law practice is a profession as well as a business. Practicing law is quite different from running a law firm. The skill set required for the two are not the same. Of course, the skills that you need to practice law will certainly help you in running your law firm, but you will also need additional skills to properly manage your firm. The problems that you have to tackle while running your law business are different from what you face as a lawyer. Whether you are starting your law firm, or you have already established one, you need to have the right systems in place and your management strategies should be able to cope up with the new challenges that keep cropping up as you grow your business. Top law firm for business setup in India employ different management tools to efficiently run their business.
As a solo practitioner or being part of a small firm, it is easy to focus your attention on your clients who are critical to your success as a lawyer, but running a law firm requires special skills. We will focus our attention on how to manage a law firm.
Managing a Law Firm
To properly manage your law firm, you must have a clearly documented systems and procedures that reflect your business model. These include both, administrative and client-centric services, with provisions to review them regularly to eliminate inefficiencies and find opportunities to improve upon them. Personal productivity and time management is also important. Managing your firm does not require much of your time if you have the right systems and procedures in place.
Systems and Procedures
Having proper systems and procedures in place is necessary to efficiently run an office. In your law firm it can help you easily locate all information and documents related to your clients. It also ensures that your time and resources are efficiently used and managed. Studies suggest that inefficiencies result in 25 to 30% loss in revenue. Efficiently managed office would mean there is minimal waste of time in locating files and documents and looking for answers for simple queries.
As your law firm grows, you should have a solid foundation for all the new employees who join your team. Law firm processes include client acquisitions, document filing, sending and replying to emails, use of CRM tools, etc. Whatever processes you define must be broken down into simple steps so that it is easy to follow. Get feedback on the processes from colleagues and make necessary changes to further simplify the steps. As processes evolve over time, review and revise them on a regular basis. To make the processes accessible to all, you can consider making a manual and distribute them to each employee for ready reference. Also, make a folder and store it in the cloud so that it can be accessed from any remote location.
Paperless Office and File Management
Documentation is crucial, both your client files and internal records need to be properly stored. In today’s digital world, all the top law firms in India are going paperless as it is cost-effective as well as more efficient way to store data. To go paperless, you will have to equip your office with certain hardware and software to manage your files. You will need to scan existing files and put them into your digital storage and make sure that whatever new documents that come are first scanned and filed digitally. Choose a particular method of naming and organizing your files so that it is easy to locate.
At the end of a case return all unnecessary documents to the client. Keep files of open and closed cases at different locations and keep track of destroyed documents. Make all your office staff aware of the filing system and ensure that they follow it.
A strong project management system is necessary to make things smoother for you and your staff, and to continue providing quality service to your clients. Project management is about creating and executing plans to accomplish specific goals. A project is a temporary assignment with a definitive start and end. In the law business these are generally client cases, but there are also internal projects and pro bono work. A good project management system will ensure high level of efficiency and productivity within the law firm.
There are three basic steps in project management:
- ● Goal Setting: the first step is to set a goal that you want to achieve at the end of the project.
- Set Timelines: each step that you need to take should have a time frame within which it has to be completed.
- Delegating Responsibilities: each member of the team involved in the project should have their roles clearly defined.
On completion of every project, a review meeting should be held to assess the process and performance.
Productivity and Time Management
Usually, lawyers in new law firms tend to lose sight of the larger goals as they make themselves busy with client meetings and other regular tasks, without even considering how they impact their law firm and their career in the long run. To keep yourself on the right path, you need to have a personal productivity system that outlines your work schedules over a period on weekly or monthly basis. This should include setting your goals and defining the plans and processes to achieve that in a given time frame.
Good law firm management is essential to survive and succeed in the highly competitive legal marketplace, and top law firms in India employ the most modern methods and tools to manage their law firm business.