Setting Your Associates Up for Success: How to Avoid the Pitfalls
Picture this: You have a great, seemingly hardworking associate. However, at every review, he or she seems to be falling short on their billable hours target. The person is coming in early, working late, and even putting in time on weekends, but still can’t seem to bill enough to keep on staff. If this is happening at your firm, you very likely have inefficiencies and roadblocks that are preventing your associate from succeeding. Here are the pitfalls…and what you can do to help:
The first step to discovering whether delegation is the culprit for lack of productivity is to have your associate keep track of all her time. Many of our Rocket Matter users will create “Non-Billable” matters for each staff member to track the activities that they do that they can’t bill clients for. From there, you’ll see what kind of tasks should be delegated to support staff that you can pay at a lower rate. If there are tasks that are being delegated to support staff, but are either coming back incorrect, poorly executed, or are taking too long to complete, you may have identified that your associate’s performance suffers because of those ill-equipped or inefficient staff members. In other words, what appears to be your associate’s inefficiencies might actually be your support staff’s.
Bad Billing Habits
Bad billing habits should be a thing of the past, but they’re very much a thing of the present. Firms are still manually billing, but there are a ton of powerful billing tools specifically for law firms, like Rocket Matter, where users can use our Bill-as-You-Work technology to easily track their time. Note that billing entries should not be assigned or delegated to another person! This can create a backlog at billing time. If you’re worried about the time it takes to properly log what you’re doing, you should look into tools like TextExpander to insert those repetitive phrases into your time and billing software to increase efficiency. Going paperless or reducing your use of paper allows your associates to work from anywhere, at any time. Our Rocket Matter users have been enjoying this flexibility for the past 10 years.
Having a Non-Flexible Work Environment
If you’re restricting all work to the four walls of your office during specific times, you may be telling your associate when and where they should be productive. Instead, try letting them tell you when and how they work best. Going paperless will help with this, as a flexible workplace allows your employees to do the work they need to in order to hit their target hours from anywhere, at the times that they’re most sharp and efficient. Plus, sometimes skipping the commute can mean putting in a few extra hours at work.
Overall, taking accountability for where you may be failing your associates will give you the power to make the changes necessary to give them the best chance of succeeding. After all, their success and happiness will only lead to a more profitable firm.
Nefra MacDonald is the Customer Success Product Manager at Rocket Matter. After working in various capacities at law firms, corporations, and non-profits, she decided to use her experience to help address the pain points that practicing lawyers feel every day. She currently co-chairs Rocket Matter’s Product Advisory Committee, which serves as a source of targeted feedback for the company’s product improvement strategy.