By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
Streamlining a law firm is the way to go from being merely an attorney in your legal practice to being the CEO of your business (which happens to be a law firm). It allows you to focus your timely solely on being a lawyer and the business of law rather than work that can and should be done by other people. (That means you too, solos!) By creating a system of processes from the way that you answer the phone to the letters that you send to clients, you create a replicable way for business to be done at your firm that creates value and withstands turnover.
I am going to be honest with you, streamlining your firm takes a ton of work. I am in the midst of streamlining and it is a huge undertaking (even with the support of my excellent Virtual Assistant). I know that it will be incredible when it is done and we will have the infrastructure to take on more clients while offering the same level of excellent service.
How can you streamline your firm? Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Create a Training Manual
This is the most important document in a firm’s operation. It is time consuming and tedious to put it together, but it is incredibly worth the effort. It gives the exact procedures for people to follow in order to complete every task in the entire office.
Some essentials for a Law Firm Training Manual are:
- Steps for processing mail
- Scripts for answering the phone
- How to open a new case
- How to close a case
- Steps for processing hearing notices
- How to calendar deadlines and important dates
The goal of the Training Manual is that any new person could step onto the job and be able to get started right away. It also allows everyone in the office to be able to pick up any part of a case and be able to take the next steps. As the boss, you need to know how to do the job of every person in the office or at least have a way to figure it out in case you were ever stuck with losing an employee due to unforeseen circumstances.
Even if you have no staff, you should still create this manual. Like any good business, your firm will grow and this document will be necessary. You will be glad that you put in the effort on the front end!
2. Create a Process for Naming and Organizing E-files
As more firms turn toward digital files, it is becoming increasingly important to find a way to keep e-files just as organized as physical files. Creating template e-files by case type is very helpful. In the template e-file, you can pre-name all of the folders and internal documents that you will need in order to complete a particular case type.
Create a Name Key where you list out every document and the way that you want the name formatted. For example: “I-130 Receipt- LAST NAME, First Name,” or “Engagement Letter- Case Type- LAST NAME, First Name.”
3. Create Template Client Communication Letters
No matter how well an attorney can explain the steps in a case, it is difficult for a non-lawyer client to understand what it is that we do. Template client communication letters provide overviews of the entire case process and what steps will be taken in the case. Each time something is submitted in the case, a client should receive a letter explaining again what was submitted, what is coming next, and the overall case plan. Though you may want to tailor letters to each specific client, it is still important to have templates that can be used and modified throughout a case. This saves time, cuts down on phone calls, and clears up unnecessary confusion.
(If you haven’t already, check out our Amiga Docs: U Visa Client Communication Letters which will help you keep your clients up to date about each step in a U Visa case.)
What tips do you have for streamlining your firm? Share them below!
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.