In association with Insight Legal Software: understanding the challenges will help you identify the most efficient systems for your needs

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.

 

The Author
Deborah Edwards, Professional Services Director at Insight Legal To discuss this topic further or the services we can offer, please call us on 0141 406 1355, email us at info@insightlegal.co.uk or visit our website www.insightlegal.co.uk
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