How to Make Your Law Firm More Efficient in 2023
Efficiency isn’t just about hopping onto a buzzword bandwagon. It’s about helping your employees focus on the tasks at hand to make the most of their time. This is a serious issue: on average, employees are interrupted every three minutes and five seconds. Once interrupted, it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand.
When you have a workday full of interruptions, it has an impact on profitability, but that’s not all. The client experience is also affected. By creating efficient processes, you can increase satisfaction in your law firm. Your attorneys and legal staff will be able to spend more time on what matters, like project work and client matters—and less on busy work.
So let’s kick inefficiency to the curb as we wind up 2022 and prepare for your most efficient—and profitable and engaged—year by following these do’s and don’ts in 2023.
Do: Identify pain points
Before you can fix anything—including inefficient processes—you need to determine where your law firm wastes time. If this feels overwhelming, start small by reviewing how you spend your time for a week. If you’re interrupted, note what interrupted you and how long it took you to get back on track.
You can also ask your employees for their input on what slows down their work or creates bottlenecks in their projects. How does their workload feel—overwhelming? Manageable? Just right? See who has too much on their plate and how tasks could be better allocated.
Studying where your workflows just aren’t working can be the jumping-off point you need to implement the right changes.
While many lawyers love to brag about how much they can do at once, multitasking does more harm than good.
According to the American Psychological Association, multitasking usually takes more time and causes you to make more errors in your work. What’s worse, switching between too many tasks can actually create mental blocks, which can drain 40% of your productive time.
Instead, spend a few minutes every morning planning out your most important tasks for the day. Complete them one at a time until they’re done. (You may just find yourself ending your work day sooner than anticipated.)
Do: Track your time
There’s no way to know what tasks are taking up most of the day unless you start tracking your time. Attorneys who track hours manually often end up losing billable hours. Instead, implement time-tracking software that can run multiple timers at once. You won’t have to remember to start and stop a single timer because you’ll have a timer on each piece of work that you’re doing.
Plus, if you track time with software, you can use reporting tools to assess which tasks are taking you the longest. If these tasks don’t equate to billable hours, then you’ll know where else you need to make changes in your work day to speed those processes up.
Don’t: Spend too much time on your email
The average employee wastes 90 minutes a day because of email interruptions. Instead of constantly checking your email throughout the day, only look at it during scheduled times. This way, you aren’t interrupting progress on priority tasks.
Also, consider using email less and implementing legal practice management software. A dashboard—one that shows you visually which tasks are due for the day (and with pertinent documents, links, and information to complete the task)—is more efficient than searching through email.
Do: Make the most of your tools
Modern software tools make it easier than ever to get your work done quickly—and reduce errors. For example, instead of trying to do all the billing yourself, put legal billing software to work.
Key features for your legal billing software should include:
- Intuitive time and expense capture screens that prompt you to log your time as you work
- Batch billing so that you can process multiple invoices in the background while you complete other tasks
- Powerful trust accounting features that automatically request a replenishment when the account falls below a set minimum
Other helpful software for maximizing your efficiency include legal CRM to simplify client intake, document automation to reduce errors and double-entry, and online payments to maintain a steady cash flow.
Don’t: Work outside your scope
When taking on a client, make sure you use a thorough client intake questionnaire to ensure that you’re the right lawyer for their matter. If you don’t, the case could be a headache and take too much time because you’re not prepared to handle the client’s issues. (Plus, every lawyer owes a duty of reasonable care when representing a client. If you take on a case you don’t understand, you’re opening your firm up to the risk of a malpractice suit.)
Instead, network with other lawyers so that you know people who work in every practice area. When a potential client from outside your scope comes to you, recommend them to a trusted colleague. What’s more, attorneys in your network will likely return the favor and funnel the right clients straight to you.
Do: Outsource tasks
Lawyers aren’t marketers, at least by training. So if you want to build a social media or blog presence to boost awareness about your law firm—and hold onto your billable hours—you may not want to do it yourself. Instead, hire a freelance copywriter or agency that can create content to expand your reach. This will save you time and money in the long run because you can focus on billable work and not squander those hours creating ineffective marketing content.
In fact, you should consider hiring for any task at your law firm that you don’t want to spend billable hours on. Modern technology means that even you can even use a service to outsource a receptionist. They can greet callers 24/7 and are available as often as you need them.
Don’t: Do admin work
If you’re a lawyer, you shouldn’t be doing the admin work at your office. Instead, hand off non-billable tasks to designated staff members. Delegate tasks properly and prioritize the people who cost you the most with the critical legal tasks.
Do: Take care of yourself
Burnout causes lawyers to become inefficient, and companies without systems in place to take care of employees often see their productivity suffer. According to the APA, employees suffering from burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to be looking for a new job. These absences—while necessary—create a cascade of workflow issues for other team members who suddenly have to do more work than expected.
Lead by example and show your team that you care about their needs. Plan vacations and stay off your phone during them so others feel comfortable doing the same. Tell employees to only pick up the phone after hours if it’s a client emergency. If you choose to work after hours, schedule emails so they arrive in your employees’ inboxes during work hours. Prioritizing their mental health saves you money because you’ll avoid costly turnover and have more productive, happier employees.
Maximize efficiency with Rocket Matter’s legal practice management tools
Rocket Matter offers all the legal practice management tools you need in one software solution. Our pricing model scales with your firm, so you can start with the basic tools you need and grow from there.
With Rocket Matter, you score efficiency-boosting tools like:
If you’re ready to become more efficient and gain billable hours in 2023, schedule a demo with Rocket Matter today.