Some lawyers may be tempted to go full Perry Mason and try to save the day on their own, but that doesn’t usually end like the TV show. In fact, your law firm suffers if people refuse to work together.
To keep your clients coming back again and again, the members of your firm need to collaborate efficiently.
But that can be easier said than done. Attorneys have plenty of work on their own plates, and creating collaborative processes takes time and intentionality. Here are five key tips to help you get your firm running like a well-oiled machine.
1. Store all your documents in one place
It sounds seductively simply, but document storage truly makes every task easier.
If people know where to find every matter document or scanned image, their workflow can, well, flow. And when you implement a cloud-based practice management software, every verified user on a project can upload important documents to folders and keep them organized and accessible.
The right legal practice management software allows you to create custom folders, sub-folders, and tags, so your documents are easily searchable and any member of your team can quickly find the documents they need to do their work.
2. Complete regular check-ins
While no one enjoys a meeting that could be an email, a great way to streamline legal workflows is to complete a daily morning check-in with your team. Have every person on your team spend a minute or two explaining what they’re working on that day and any issues they may have with it.
This allows other people on the team to jump in and clarify any problems. It will also remove any redundant work because you can avoid mix-ups where two different people are planning to complete the same task.
Along with your daily morning check-ins, consider implementing a longer bi-weekly check-in that lasts about half an hour. This can help your firm address any larger issues that team members may be having with a project. Finally, plan to have an hour-long check-in every month. In that meeting, you can give in-depth status updates and address long-term goals and challenges.
3. Foster a safe space for conversation
Fear of being rejected or ignored can often be a major barrier to collaboration. Your employees may not trust that what they have to say will be taken seriously. To remedy these barriers, foster a safe space for conversation.
Ask everyone on the project for their opinion on matter management—and don’t interrupt them when they share their ideas. Encourage your employees to take full ownership of their portion of the project, and try to avoid micromanaging their every move. Give them the chance to show you how capable they are.
There are also a few bad practices common among law firms that stifle conversation: the “star talent” and hierarchical structures.
The “star talent” means that one lawyer at the firm is valued the most. The star is often a lone wolf who always wants to work by themselves. This toxic mindset can take a serious toll on your firm’s ability to collaborate effectively on matters. Encourage team collaboration by pushing to make sure everyone in your office feels like they’re a valuable part of the team.
Make sure the partner isn’t the only person in the room talking. Your associates and junior attorneys should feel comfortable sharing their opinions in meetings. To get the ball rolling, always ask them to share what they think about a project and demonstrate that you care about their opinion by listening intently.
It may take a while for people to feel comfortable talking at first, but over time they’ll learn they can trust you.
4. Give Agile methodologies a try
Initially developed by a team of software developers, Agile is an approach to workflows that focuses on breaking down tasks into smaller, iterative steps, so teams can focus on responding to challenges with greater (sorry) agility. And as it turns out, Agile methodologies are a surprisingly good fit for the structured, routine processes involved in resolving legal matters.
One particularly useful Agile tool is the Kanban board: an organizational system that sorts ongoing matters into columns representing stages in the matter’s completion. The beauty of the Kanban board is that it makes it easy for team members to quickly view the status of ongoing matters and how long each matter has been stuck in its current stage. This way, any member of your team can easily spot workflow bottlenecks and take steps to get the matter back on track—whether that means reallocating work, reprioritizing tasks, or implementing entirely new workflows at your firm.
5. Implement legal practice management tools to streamline communication
Each of the above changes can help you build a culture of collaboration at your firm—but having the right software tools at your disposal can be a huge help when it comes to putting these practices into action. A legal practice management software can allow your attorneys, paralegals, and staff to collaborate more effectively on matters, even if they’re working from home or while traveling.
Here are a few of the LPM features to look out for:
- Internal messaging that lets lawyers chat with each other quickly so they can cut down on inbox overload.
- Scheduling tools that let you assign tasks for specific matters and simplify case management.
- Mobile applications that let your employees complete work and updates on their phones, so they can stay in the loop and work no matter where they are.
- Integrations with software that you already use so you can keep all of your documents in one place: your practice management software.
- Calendaring tools and Kanban boards to help you stay on top of pressing matter deadlines.
Rocket Matter simplifies law firm collaboration
If you need streamlining collaboration at your law firm, Rocket Matter’s legal practice management software has you covered. Rocket Matter’s internal messaging software makes it easy for employees to connect quickly when any issues arise. They can also send files to each other in a snap instead of needing to write out a whole email to do so.
To top everything off, Rocket Matter also offers built-in Kanban boards to help your team visualize the ongoing progress of your matters, quickly check how your cases are progressing, and react to bottlenecks with more agility.
To see how Rocket Matter can help your law firm simplify collaboration and boost efficiency, sign up for a free demo today.