Managing your time well is vital for any company, but it is even more important for law firms. You have to both manage your billable tasks while keeping administrative functions to a minimum. It can be challenging, so resetting the clock and refreshing your firm’s time management strategy can give everyone the boost they need to be more efficient and productive.
How Are You Spending Your Time?
The first step is to analyze how time is currently being spent. This helps you see more clearly where you can make changes that will actually have an impact. This itself can take quite a bit of time because you’ll need to evaluate what people are doing and how long it takes them to accomplish each task. Once you have a list of the tasks that lawyers and other staff spend their time doing, you can evaluate and prioritize.
Document creation, formatting and editing are processes that tend to take up a lot of law firms’ time. An Infoware study showed that legal professionals spend anywhere from 4-6 hours a day in Microsoft Word. Making sure the time and effort involved in creating legal documents is as efficient as possible is critical to enhancing client service and maximizing billing opportunities.
Related post: To save even the slightest amount of time assembling legal documents, here are 9 best practices when using Microsoft Word.
Lawyers also spend a significant amount of time communicating, be it with clients or other lawyers. While this is obviously necessary, it can also be streamlined to provide better productivity and allow more time to spend on clients.
Prioritize the Improvements
Once you’ve identified the ways your firm’s employees spend their time, it’s time to evaluate and prioritize. Since time is money, whatever tasks are pulling people away from being able to bill clients is probably the best place to start.
For example, if assistants are spending too much time reformatting documents after several rounds of edits, assess what technology exists to cut down this time. Or if lawyers are wasting time cutting and pasting clauses from older documents to new ones, find more efficient methods for this kind of work. This is precious time that could be billed back to the client, so you need to figure out how to minimize the time spent on administrative functions. Determine how these tasks could be performed more efficiently and you can save your firm a lot of time and money.
Communicating with all your employees in the firm is critical. Ask for their input as to what things are making them less productive and find out what they feel could improve the firm’s time management strategy. This information can be extremely eye-opening because you might discover some tasks only need a simple fix to gain vast productivity improvements.
Another reason to be open with everyone about new strategies is that change can be difficult to implement, but if the whole firm is involved in the process and embraces the changes, the transition won’t be as much of an adjustment. Keep everyone informed as to the reasons why these new strategies are necessary and encourage everyone to make improvements that will increase productivity.
Implement New Strategies
Once you have assessed and prioritized your new strategies, it’s time to implement. This has the potential to be overwhelming, but you also don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Look at what technology is available to you to help automate as many tasks as possible.
If you do implement new legal software, you need to provide a period of training so that all employees can become familiarized. Allow everyone ample time to convert to the new methods, but set a date when conversion will be complete. Give employees the tools they need to meet the goals that you set for them personally and for the firm in general. Once you make improvements you can evaluate the results and find other ways to continue to see better results.