By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
Streamlining your law firm is THE way to make your law firm more profitable. Law firms often are not valuable as businesses because of the fact that the lawyer is tied to the value of the law firm. This means that we are dedicated to case work and case management instead of masterminding work flow and case flow. I wrote a bit about this at the beginning of the year, and my firm has grown leaps and bounds since then.
Our law firms should run like Starbucks. Starbucks is successful because they have policies and procedures in place so that every Starbucks is run exactly the same regardless of the location. Think about it- from the way that they take your order to the way they process your order to the way that they make your drink, it is always done the same way. Your law firm needs to be run like this.
As the CEO of your law firm, it is up to you to put together procedures so that your law firm can run like a well-oiled machine. It is important that anyone could start at your firm and essentially be able to get to work right away by following the policies and procedures that you have in place.
I made it my goal to have my law firm fully streamlined by the end of 2016, and we are almost there. The streamlining has made an incredible difference to my bottom line. Our monthly earnings have tripled since January, and at the time January was the highest grossing month in the history of my law firm. It is my goal to have a 7-figure law firm by the end of 2017, and I know that with the help of streamlining, we will be able to get there. Also, my staff are happier and feel more satisfied because they understand the expectations of their positions and understand their roles more clearly. By streamlining the law firm, our entire team has shifted from being reactionary (i.e. trying to remember where the template contract was saved to be able to put the case together, writing an FYI/case overview letter to clients with each new sign up, etc.) to being proactive and deliberate about each action in our law firm.
Here are some things that you can get started on this TODAY to get your law firm streamlined.
1. Provide a Policy Manual
A policy manual is the greatest tool to ensuring that the culture that you want to create at your law firm is reflected in your entire team. It gives you the opportunity to clearly state what your expectations are, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of the situation for the employee. In essence a Policy Manual is what will set your office up to succeed.
Some important items in your policy manual include:
- Dress code
- Policy on cell phone use
- Policy on internet and firm computer use
- Expectations for client treatment
- Disciplinary steps for rule violations
Writing a Policy Manual is a ton of work, so if you aren’t up to it, let us help you! My team and I worked hard to put together a policy manual for our law firm. As you know, once I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into figuring something out, the first thing I want to do is share it with my Amigas! As a result, I have made it into a downloadable document so that you can use it and edit it for your own practice. Get it here!
2. Create Training Manual
The Training Manual is key to helping onboard any new employees and also a way to help be sure that everyone in the law firm can do any job at any time if needed. For some of my Training Manual Tips, click here.
Here is the quickest way to get a Training Manual created:
- Ask every person in your firm to bullet point every single thing that s/he does in a day. Put a deadline on it, such as “in 1 week from today I need you to send me your bullet point list.”
- Then send that list back and ask the person to write out step-by-step how to do each thing on the list. By doing this one thing, you will quickly make progress on your training manual.
If you need one and don’t have the energy or desire to get one, that’s okay because we have one done already for you! It is fully customizable to your law firm so feel free to use this as a starting point. Get it here!
3. Provide Quote Sheet and Document List at the Consultation
Though most attorneys provide a quote sheet with the case type at the consultation, something that many of us do not do is give a list of the required documentation that you will need to start the case.
I’m going to call myself out on something in case you feel the same way: I was afraid to do this at first because I feared that I would be encouraging the clients to do the cases themselves. I can tell you now that this was completely unwarranted. In fact, it had the opposite effect. The clients come in fully prepared at the time of sign up and it saved us months of having to chase after them for documents. This has allowed our turn-around time on certain cases to be one week.
4. Start the case immediately at sign up
Having a quick turnaround on a case usually requires a client’s cooperation on many levels. When a client is already in the office to sign a contract, it is easy to build on that time to get started on the case immediately. We now schedule a 2-3 hour sign up where we go over the contract, obtain the necessary information we need to do our forms, and start on the declaration (depending on the case).
Before starting this method, it would sometimes take months to get started on a client’s case because they would not get back to us with the information or documents that we need. Now that we have streamlined the process to provide them a list of what we need before they even sign up and start to work on their case the moment that they sign up, we are able to turn around many of our cases in just one week. (Stay tuned because I will share our step-by-step case method in an upcoming article!)
As a bonus, if you bill hourly, using this method is a way to earn a lot of the initial retainer right off the get-go which is helpful to your monthly earnings.
What other streamlining steps do you recommend?
About your Ally in Life, Business and Law:
Alexandra "Ally" Kennedy is a national award-winning attorney and the founder of AMIGA Lawyers and Alexandra Kennedy Immigration Law.. After becoming a mother, and in a matter of 3 months, Ally transformed her practice from earning in pesos to earning 6-figures and she is passionate about teaching attorneys how they can do the same. Ally empowers lawyers to be the CEOs of their law firms with her weekly blog, webinars, and conferences where she teaches step-by-step how to do the work they love while running a profitable legal business. Ally lives outside of Seattle with her partner and their 5 children.