How to manage a small law firm in 2021
The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated a lot of the unique problems faced by small law firms. Managing a small law firm is a challenging task due to limited manpower and massive workload. Now, all the uncertainty makes it an even bigger challenge.
However, the global crisis that is COVID-19 brought some good too as it accelerated the shift to digital transformation. With that in mind, this year presents a perfect opportunity to go digital and make long-lasting changes to strengthen your business.
For that to happen, utilizing all the tools and opportunities will be key in effectively refining key aspects of your law firms and ultimately, staying ahead of the competition in 2021.
Establish streamlined procedures
Your law firm will greatly benefit from the implementation of a system founded on efficient procedures. It can help solve multiple problems in your law firm, including a multitude of staffing and workflow problems. Raising the efficiency of your processes increases productivity and profitability by:
- Saving time and simplifying recurring tasks. A lot of tasks can be automated easily, making it simple to redo certain steps with a well-defined, straightforward procedure.
- Allowing you to designate administrative tasks to other employees. To ensure long-term success and productivity, you should keep your paralegals and attorneys focused on the clients. You can do that by designating administrative tasks between your other employees.
- Helping you cross-train and integrate new staff. Procedures and processes (automated or manual), let you save time and money by helping new employees catch up. Another benefit is that you can also upskill your current employees at the same time and grow the business along the way.
Embrace digital solutions for better performance and client experience
With a solid foundation based on organization and efficiency, it’s much easier to adapt to the digital way and optimize your business’ workflow.
A great example of a helpful resource is the Loio add-on. Loio is a digital assistant for legal documents that transforms tedious manual paperwork into a faster and smarter experience. Lawyers, paralegals, and everyone else working with all sorts of contracts can simplify and streamline the process of reviewing and editing documents through the use of AI.
Besides the potential to streamline your firm’s inner workings, making a fast jump towards digital solutions can also serve your clients. The current trends in tech adoption largely revolve around the customer-centric strategy. The pesky pandemic has provided everyone a big incentive to catch up even more quickly than planned. With most of us operating remotely in some form, a secure cloud-based legal practice management software can help leverage the current technological advancements in your favor.
Some of the biggest benefits here are:
- Easy and constant access to important documents with a remote way of assisting clients.
- Remote document management
- Online consultations and payments.
- Automation of routine tasks like document creation, billing, etc.
Prepare for a hybrid model of operations
Most of the action in the world is happening online and law firms aren’t the exception. For starters, online interactions have become a necessary requirement. According to the 2020 Legal Trends Report, clients are more than comfortable communicating with their lawyers through the Internet so having an online-centric client experience will be mandatory. For a number of interactions such as:
- client intake process
- electronic document management
- electronic payments
a hybrid format may be necessary for both your staff and clients to seamlessly switch between online and offline interactions. Whether it’s offering an option to e-sign documents, a variety of paying options, or meeting virtually for a consultation, technology can and will ensure your legal services are in line with evolving client expectations.
Take a crash course in law firm finances
Being a part of a small law firm means there is a good chance you are actively filling multiple roles within your company. Hence, being unaware of finances is simply not an option.
Finances dictate a lot of decisions in a law firm, therefore you should keep a close eye on the financial workings of your company. For that, you’ll need to take into account key financial metrics.
Work in Progress (WIP) and Accounts Receivable (A/R) both give you an invaluable insight into your assets. The WIP presents billable time and expenses that have not yet been billed on a client invoice. On the other hand, A/R represents uncollected, yet billed work.
The Collectible is your true realization rate presented by the number of hours captured, billed, and collected. You should also be aware of the Trust Accounts and pay close attention to the trust balance of your clients.
Pay attention to your branding and marketing
Last but not least, your brand is what makes you stand apart from your competition. In the eyes of your clients, you are first judged by your firm’s reputation and image.
Since your branding material must represent your firm clearly and accurately, you need to know what makes your law firm unique. Try to answer what makes you stand apart from your competitors and if you can offer something they can’t.
Your website and social media pages should also be a perfect reflection of your brand image. Good online presence reflects your distinct attributes, while also presenting accurate and relevant information.
Staying one step ahead
As the dreaded 2020 has shown us, the only way for a small law firm to adapt to the times is to take action and integrate new technologies. The shift to an online way of doing things is here to stay, something law firms cannot afford to put off any longer.
So, the course of action for every small law firm in 2021 should be taking charge to finally catch up with their bigger law counterparts. With help from all of the existing solutions, possibilities are endless, and every small law firm can stay ahead of client demands and ultimately, grow.