Start the New Year right with a more efficient law firm

Before you sign off for the holidays, take stock of how your law firm runs now and what could create more ease in your work as you begin 2019. There are some simple adjustments that can lead to a more efficient law firm in the New Year.

The importance of efficiency

I probably don’t have to tell you why efficiency matters in a small law firm. As a law firm owner, you are an entrepreneur who wears many hats. Your law work must come first, of course, but you can’t neglect business operations, marketing and other important functions that drive business development.

However, if you spend too much time on administrative tasks, technology trouble-shooting or do-it-yourself marketing, you’re limiting your most valuable resource: time. As a lawyer, you want the majority of your time focused on client work, because that work leads to revenue and, ideally, more work from those clients and their referrals.

The efficiency review

So, where to begin? If you don’t already have a good idea which low-value activities suck up the most of your time, then use the remaining weeks of December to keep a log. Track your own time spent:

  • Answering staff questions
  • Solving technology problems
  • Chasing down files or other information
  • Working on building or office maintenance issues
  • Managing billing or pinging clients for payment
  • Answering non-client e-mails
  • Creating marketing materials and campaigns

Once you have a clear picture of what percentage of time you personally spend on those activities, you can begin to create a clear efficiency picture.

Now, ask yourself two important questions:

  • How often do I log more than 40 hours per week at work?
  • Would I rather spend those extra hours at home, pursuing personal interests or relaxing?

If you regularly work overtime hours, it’s a sign that you need to work on efficiency within your law practice. Working longer hours does not necessarily mean you will see a return on investment. More often than not, it means you need to think more strategically about high-value activities that actually result in direct revenue or potential new business.

Areas for efficiency improvement

As a small law firm owner, you can regain a lot of valuable time by concentrating on strategic improvements in the following areas:

  • Staffing. If you don’t have a paralegal or legal assistant, perhaps now is the time to hire? If you already have staff, do you need to add more to meet an increased volume of work?
  • Technology. As you look over your time log, if you spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down files or client details, you likely need a technology upgrade. A new CRM system, an automated billing process, or a cloud-based file converter could save you hundreds of hours per year.
  • Environment. Your office space could be a key culprit in stealing your time. Fidgeting with the thermostat, repairing broken equipment or managing distractions in a home office can often interfere with your efficiency and productivity. Maybe it’s time for a new space?
  • Outsourcing. Marketing and accounting are two vitally important functions, but these can be outsourced to save time. A professional accountant or marketer can take a huge load off your plate.
  • Networking. You need to network, but do you need to attend every networking group or event? No. Choose only high-value networking opportunities, and assign some to staff.

To learn more about building a successful small law firm in Denver, contact us. We offer lawyer coworking and private offices at three central locations. 

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