4 Ways For Law Firms To Be More Productive And Efficient
When you’re a lawyer running your own firm, it’s like you’re serving two masters at the same time. There's yourself and then there’s your firm, which is essentially a business in the practice of profession. You have cases to sort through, documents to file, staff to manage, and bills to pay, among many other responsibilities. So if you feel you don’t have enough hours in a day, that’s expected given all the things you need to deal with in one workday.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Technology is on your side. And when you make the most of it through online faxing, voice mail, and other productivity solutions, you’ll see your law firm start to improve its operations, unnecessarily long hours of work will no longer be as frequent, and you can do more in a single workday than you may have done so in the past.
Here are some of the best things lawyers can do to have a more efficient and productive firm:
1. Revise Your Office LayoutYou might be unaware of it, but your office layout could be hurting your productivity. So on a weekend or a holiday when you’re certain no client is going to come in, it’s worth taking the time to revise your office layout and make a few changes. This doesn’t mean doing a major renovation. Even a few modifications with the placement of equipment and furniture can make an impact.
For instance, if in the past you had to walk from one end of the office to another just to scan or photocopy documents, then perhaps you may want to put the printers and scanners closer to the computers. The pantry can also be placed in a corner or area away from work desks so any noise coming from there won’t distract your team.
There’s no uniform approach to this. Every law firm has its own layout, preference, and style, so decide on the changes you know will work best for your needs.
2. Create To-Do ListsTo-do lists aren’t a thing of the past. In fact, they’re still one of the simplest yet most useful productivity tools. You can have a list for daily tasks to accomplish and even weekly and monthly responsibilities so you can get everything in order. Writing a daily to-do list before you actually start working helps ensure that no matter how busy your day may go, you won’t miss any important task you have to accomplish.
Here are other good reasons you should start creating to-do lists:
- They bring structure and direction to your day.
- They free up your mental load since you won’t have to constantly worry about forgetting anything.
- They give you a chance to prioritize tasks with tight deadlines.
3. Establish A Fixed Time To Respond To CommunicationsOne of the biggest time eaters in any office, law firms included, is spending too many hours in a day responding to communications. These include calls, fax messages, emails, texts, and social media messages.
If you don’t have staff dedicated to handling that sort of task, your team will just keep attending to all business communications at the expense of other job functions that need to be handled as well within the day. To avoid this piling up of work and losing your sense of direction, establish a fixed time to respond to communications. This can either be in the morning or in the afternoon, whichever schedule works best for your firm. This system would help your firm stay on top of time management.
By setting that schedule, all the other hours in your workday can be spent doing other important tasks. Whatever messages or calls aren’t responded to can be given attention later on once the daily to-do lists have been completed or the next day during the same hour.
4. Conquer The Hardest Tasks In The MorningYou may have heard of the saying regarding productivity, ‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning.’ This simply means making a point to deal with the most difficult tasks right away.
When everyone in the firm arrives for work at 8AM, their mind is still fresh. They've gotten a good night’s sleep, and there aren’t any distractions present yet. This is therefore the best time to condition yourself to focus on heavier, bigger tasks.
For instance, if you have a personal injury or family law case that’s mentally and emotionally draining, don’t wait until the afternoon when you’re already drained to tackle this. Otherwise you’ll lose your focus. When you’re able to get such matters out of the way, you can then move on to the smaller, easier ones on your list. Having this kind of system can greatly improve your law firm’s productivity.
ConclusionThere’s never a dull, slow day in a law firm where numerous tasks are waiting to be accomplished. That’s why you might find yourself lacking the time to get things done. But as you’ve seen, it takes only a few changes in your system, habits, and practices to improve your efficiency and productivity. You don’t have to drown yourself in work even on those hours when you should be spending time with your family. You can work on your caseload more quickly without sacrificing quality by implementing the strategies above.
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