In part 1 of this series, we discussed the overall top two law firm goals that have been set by today’s firms. This post will cover the remaining three. Just as a refresher, here are the top 5 goals and priorities of today’s law firms, according to a study done by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group:
- Enhancing their reputation in the local community (46 percent).
- Increasing or improving business development and marketing (45 percent).
- Being considered the best of the best (42 percent).
- Providing better service to their current clients (39 percent).
- Growing while maintaining quality (39 percent).
Being Considered the Best of the Best
Being considered “great” in the field of law comes down to a combination of factors: your reputation, how well you treat your clients, and your knowledge in your field (all of which are completely interconnected).
Your business development has a direct impact on how your clients and colleagues view you (see part 1 for more information on improving business development). Legal Practice Management software (LPMs) can go a long way in helping to foster relationships with existing clients. For example, LPMs like Rocket Matter give your clients a plethora of options in terms of communication, invoicing, and payments. Better client service will ultimately enhance your value to your clients and help establish your reputation.
Blogging is another way a firm can differentiate themselves in today’s legal market. Being engaged and posting about specific topics that directly connect with your clients and/or area of law allows you to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a known expert in your field. As mentioned in part 1 of this series, spreading the word about your content through social media like Twitter and Facebook or sending out an email newsletter can also work wonders to develop your positive reputation as an expert lawyer and show clients and colleagues your dedication to your craft.
Enhance Your Paralegal Performance and Career with Blogging, Social Media and Technology
Providing Better Service to Current Clients
Providing exceptional service to clients starts with setting the right expectations. What some attorneys fail to remember is that the legal experience for the average Joe can be nerve-wracking and extremely stressful. Setting expectations means making sure that after your initial meeting, your clients have a firm grasp on things such as how the legal process works, what the range of results will be, costs and billing procedures, etc. Be as transparent as possible and it will help to remove the tension, anxiety, and confusion that often accompanies the legal experience.
Legal practice management softwares can also help alleviate some of the anxiety and confusion that your clients may face. LPMs can offer client portals where attorneys can quickly and efficiently communicate with clients, organize files, send out electronic invoices and allow for quick and easy online payments.
In addition to using LPMs and demonstrating best practices such as actually listening to a client and treating them with respect, an overlooked component to client service is the analysis of lean metrics. ‘What the heck are lean metrics’, you may be asking? They are metrics and measurements that directly reflect the customer service that your clients receive. Here are some examples:
Percent Complete and Accurate– the measurement showing that your matters were handled accurately and that all related tasks were competently completed by the staff.
Lead Time– the time from when a task is requested or identified until it’s finally completed.
Mean Time to Repair– what it takes and how long it takes to fix things when they go wrong.
These are the kind of metrics that really matter to a client, the kind that measures responsiveness and maximizes the value of the service they receive. Measuring these statistics will allow you to set benchmarks and therefor optimize and improve your firm’s processes.
Excelling at Law Firm Client Service: Start With Setting Expectations
How Does Legal Practice Management Software Improve Client Service?
How to Use Lean Metrics to Measure and Deliver Exceptional Law Firm Client Service
Growing While Maintaining Quality
Growing your law firm takes leadership, resourcefulness, a strong sense of self, and most of all, grit. Getting back to basics is the key to winning this particular struggle.
It all starts with establishing a leadership role within the firm. Whomever is the designated leader in your firm must own their role and chose to do most of the work themselves or delegate. Keep yourself and others accountable for the work that is assigned, either through note-taking or an LPM that includes task and calendar features. Communicate with your team face to face (if possible) on a regular basis. Without organization and communication, important initiatives get derailed and break down. Long story short: you can’t experience growth without effective leadership.
Establishing successful billing practices is also a key to growing your firm. It may not seem obvious, but your firm’s billing tactics can greatly impact the quality of legal services that you provide to your clients. Without proper billing practices, time doesn’t get recorded. If time and expenses aren’t properly recorded, the invoicing process takes forever. Investing unnecessary time in your ad hoc billing practices can result in a significant amount of otherwise billable time being lost.
If this doesn’t concern you, then consider the long-term consequences of unestablished and sloppy billing practices:
- Job dissatisfaction
- Less time helping clients
- Fewer hours with family and friends
It’s important to maintain productivity and a sense of mental clarity as a lawyer, otherwise it becomes very easy to get overwhelmed by your job. Establishing effective leadership, communication, and the proper billing practices are your first steps to enjoying firm growth and maintaining and/or growing the overall quality of your firm.