Practice management covers areas as varied as finance, human resources, facilities management, IT, marketing and business development, client relationships and compliance. Juggling these can be challenging! Often managers get pulled in different directions and take on many tasks, from fixing a printer to recruitment.
It’s easy to forget that cost doesn’t always equal value. You don’t have to spend lots of money on outside agencies, but spending money and saving yourself time can certainly be more effective.
What’s more, compliance rules are constantly changing and managers need to keep abreast in order for their firm to survive, let alone thrive.
Lead the firm effectively
Law is not just a profession; it’s also a business. It’s important to consider the many ways to generate new work and drive business growth. Examples include creating an attractive website and building an engaging and trustworthy brand so clients spread the name of your business.
Other cost effective strategies are to establish a presence with active social media platforms, and plan relevant advertising and publishing of thought leadership pieces which show you as an expert.
Responsibility for meeting compliance requirements and operating effective processes lies with the firm's leaders. It can be difficult to balance the pressures of management with client work, but every law firm manager must do it.
Maximise fee earning time
The most successful practices learn and adapt quickly. Financial staff must be fully trained in line with the relevant accounts rules, especially when changes occur, including HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative, now in operation. Having up to date specialist software to prepare your management accounts and compliance reports will save valuable hours.
Developing firm-wide case management processes can be invaluable in reducing supervision time. Of course, you and your legal staff are the experts, not the computer system, so you shouldn’t rely on a prescriptive workflow that leaves staff simply “joining the dots”. However, systems that streamline working practices can ensure a high quality, tailored, efficient service.
Improve with technology
I speak to firms every day about case and practice management systems. Many dismiss case management because they use few standard letters. Managing legal matters isn’t just a process, but I encourage firms to look at how they want matters to be run and use software tools to optimise efficiencies.
Also, if your firm doesn’t time record due to fixed or agreed fees or charging agreements, you have no accurate way of telling how the work your staff do compares to what you are charging and ultimately recover. Analysis of your billing success (cost v chargeout rate v recovery) is invaluable and good practice management systems make this easy.
There are many resources, services and software tools available to practice managers, with different offerings being suitable for different law firms. Use them to your advantage.
In this issue
- Time to promote shared care?
- Client medical records: a matter of right
- Search for the route to healing
- Rights after “same roof”
- Are you a qualified creditor?
- Reading for pleasure
- Opinion: Allan Jamieson
- Book reviews
- Profile: John Laughland
- President's column
- ScotLIS update
- People on the move
- Common law and artificial life
- FAIs: addressing the concerns
- Challenging times
- Shared humanity
- Cases of the paperless will
- How to manage your legal practice for success
- Fairness v Convenience
- Moorov then and now
- Personal licences: the uncertainty continues
- Is Airbnb use a planning matter?
- Insolvency Rules: a positive realignment
- IR35 compliance moves up the ladder
- “Best interests” in the balance
- Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
- PSG tackles index-linked rent reviews
- Finding the right seat
- Public policy highlights
- Accredited paralegal update
- Events, and more, for members
- Accredited Paralegal Committee profile
- Second thoughts on executor declarations
- Client communication – a continuous journey
- Reflections from the Commission
- Love my tender
- Ask Ash