Running a law firm
Organization and planning are key to managing a law office.Running a law firm should be treated like any successful business. Even though the law firm does not have a "widget" to sell, they are offering a valuable service to the public. That service must be clearly defined and have a staff that is competent to assist the attorney in handling his practice. To do this, clear responsibilities and duties must be assigned to office staff such as determining who handles the bookkeeping and who orders legal supplies and office supplies. A successful practice means having exceptional personnel that is organized and manages an office smoothly.
Like any business, the law firm must define who their clientele is. Depending on the specialty of the practice, the attorney might take on cases in family law, criminal litigation or estate planning. Hiring office personnel that are personable and have some background in the attorney's field of practice are excellent qualities to look for when running a law firm. Every firm wants their clients to feel confident as soon as they walk in the door.
Here are four tips on running a law firm so that it not only runs smoothly, but appears comfortable and inviting.
Establish clear responsibilities
Duties and responsibilities of each employee must be clearly communicated. The office manager or attorney should let them know what their expectations are and give staff a timeline for completion. Decide who orders supplies (from legal forms and business cards to file folders) who handles invoicing and how to handle phones. Even defining the goals of the law firm will help staff understand priorities when running a law firm.
Keep accurate, up-to-date records
Set up new clients immediately. Don't let confidential information lay around on pieces of paper until an employee decides he is ready to enter it into the database or client file. This practice could lead to files being set up the next day, next week - you get the picture. When existing clients call to update their information or have new information to provide, record it as soon as possible. It is always wise to completely handle one client before going on to the next.
Look at the conference room and waiting areas as a client would
What do you see when you walk into the office? Does the waiting area have furnishings that look comfortable yet professional? Do the conference rooms have the necessary essentials such as enough quality client and staff seating and lighting? Take a look at these areas as a first time visitor would.
Encourage staff to stay updated on new laws
Vital employees such as paralegals or legal secretaries should be encouraged to stay updated on new developments and laws for the attorney's area of expertise. Subscribe to industry trade journals or online newsletters that provide information on the attorney's practice. Whether the lawyers specialty is family law or bankruptcy law, staff should continue their education as well. There are several online seminars, called webinars, that offer mini-courses right from the comfort of a firm's computer.
Running a law firm successfully includes knowledgeable office management, up-to-date legal accessories and staying informed on new legal developments and laws. Applying these four tips on managing a law office will make the office run efficiently.