1 Simple Rule, Several Hours Of Productivity
You have probably heard of the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto principle, it states that about 20% of actions result in 80% of the results. The rule holds true for law firms. According to a recent report, as little as 29% of a lawyer’s workday is spent handling billable tasks. That means that out of an 8 hour day an attorney spends only about 2 ½ hours doing work that will be compensated by clients.
Every minute of the day is important when it comes to billable work. You can use the 80/20 rule to help improve your law firm’s overall productivity.
Improve Productivity – Increase Profits
The goal of any company is to be profitable. When your lawyers are not utilizing their time efficiently the result is effort spent doing tasks that aren’t billable. If you can increase legal firm productivity you will be able to more effectively bill clients for time spent on their cases. Your client billing will increase along with the bottom line. Look at the ways that attorneys are currently getting their tasks done to find ways for improvement.
The Canadian Bar Association associates the following as the top profit killers many law firms suffer from.
Not unlocking the benefits of a paperless law firm.
Failing to properly record billable hours.
Accepting bad clients.
Not taking advantage of the latest and project management tools.
Limiting the use of your support staff.
Apply the 80/20 Rule
If you apply the 80/20 rule you will find that you can effectively boost legal firm productivity. If you can increase efficiency it follows that there will be improved results. It is important to pay attention to where attorneys are spending their time. Then you can identify areas where you can eliminate inefficiencies to help increase the productivity of your law firm. If you have a tracking system in place it is necessary to make sure that lawyers are utilizing it properly. Otherwise, you won’t have a true picture of how work days are spent.
Ways to Increase Legal Firm Productivity
While 29% of a lawyer’s day was spent on billable client tasks, the majority of their days were spent performing administrative functions. Other reasons for low productivity are likely interruptions in the workday and lack of concentration. These issues can be more easily addressed once you know about them. The extent these issues play in overall efficiency will help you decide what changes can be made to increase the productivity of your law firm.
Boosting your productivity not only improves the overall effectiveness of the firm but also increases morale. Getting more done in a day is uplifting and gives you a sense of accomplishment. You can work fewer overtime hours and get more done. When you leave for the day you know that you have completed everything that had to be done so you won’t have stress building up.
Related Article – You’d be surprised about how much time is wasted when creating legal documents. By investing in legal document software, you can limit the amount of time spent formatting, and creating legal documents by up to 49 minutes a day. Learn more in our blog post, “Word LX™: How to Save Time Creating Legal Documents Without Compromising Quality”
Reduce Administrative Time
Administrative functions are a necessary part of every lawyer’s day. Yet there are some things that can be helpful in reducing the amount of time that is spent on them. Automation is essential in lowering the time spent working on admin tasks. Simple inputs and integrated systems allow attorneys to spend their time on important client functions and less time doing the tasks that aren’t compensable.
The easier the system is to use the more likely the attorneys will utilize it on a regular basis. Systems that are complicated or difficult to learn may not be utilized properly. On the other hand, legal software programs that are easy to use and intuitive to operate are most likely to bring the best results and improve law firm productivity.
Track Hours Properly
Another reason for a low amount of billable time can be attributed to improper or inadequate tracking of client billable hours. Automated tracking of billable hours helps to ensure that you capture all the time spent working on client jobs. Losing just a few minutes here and there can end up costing a lot in the end. The minutes that are lost could provide income to your firm and probably should be billed but aren’t being adequately monitored.
Related Article – By staying on top of the latest trends affecting the legal industry, you can find easier ways to perform functions like time tracking, legal billing, and other time consuming administrative tasks. Read our article “New Technology Trends For Your Legal Practice” to learn more.
Adequate time management is an important part of the day. All too often, lawyers have to estimate the time they spent on particular tasks because they are interrupted while completing a particular job. This can cause them to lose track of their billable time and thus undercharge clients for their work. Attorneys can learn to work without distractions by setting aside an allotted time to work on client cases without interruption. They should not take calls, check voicemail and look at text messages or any other activities that could cause them to break their concentration while working on a case for a specific period of time.
Once you have an understanding of how you can elevate legal firm productivity you need to implement changes. Implementation includes communicating the expectations and philosophy of the plan so that everyone knows what they need to do to accomplish the goals. Make sure that the goals are achievable. To do so you may want to implement changes in a gradual manner.
You need to have regular ongoing communication with attorneys of the firm in order to ensure that they comply with the new methods. Roll out new technology slowly to make sure that it is functioning properly and that everyone is trained on how to use it. This will make the transition easier for everyone. Give lawyers the reasons behind the changes so that everyone can get on board with them.
Related Article – Changing the process in a law firm can be difficult- especially for lawyers who are stuck in their traditional ways. More than 50% of every new IT initiative will never become adopted. Considering how beneficial new software investments can be, we have shared our “4 Secrets to Implementing New Software Programs In Law Offices”.
Elevating Legal Firm Productivity
Elevating law firm productivity won’t happen overnight. It requires the evaluation of your currently employed methods and systems and then finding ways to make improvements. Everything you do should have a positive impact on the bottom line. Do not lose sight of the ultimate goal. When law firm productivity improves so will the client’s level of satisfaction.
Giving more undivided attention to the client’s needs will give your firm the reputation needed to put it above the rest. Take the time necessary to assess efficiency so you can objectively find solutions that work for your law firm. As you review the 80/20 rule you will find areas of concern. Address each of these issues to boost legal firm productivity as much as possible.
Related Article – The bottom line is, we are in control of our own work/life balance and how productive we can be in our current roles. In our blog “8 Ways Lawyers Can Improve Their Work/Life Balance”, we outline some of the ways you can increase your law firms productivity.
Learn more about how Infoware’s legal document software can improve the efficiency of your entire law firm and other tips in the Infoware blog.