Although you’re a legal expert who is paid to help your clients navigate the treacherous waters of the legal system, you’re really in the business of people. The success of your law firm depends on more than being able to find clients. It also depends on how you manage your law firm. This short guide to the best practices of law office management will help you run a more efficient and client focused law office.
Create a Working Environment That Is Respectful of Others
Have you heard or witnessed the horror of law offices that yell, scream, and curse at their own staff? Yes, law is a highly stressful career choice. Yes, there are times when people say or do things they should not because no one is perfect. However, if your law office environment is too stressful for your employees, it’s time to reconsider how you handle the day-to-day stressors of firm life.
You must create a working environment that is respectful of others if you want to attract and retain the best employees. Everyone in your office deserves to be treated with respect. Don’t tolerate workplace bullying, the blame game, exclusion, screaming, or other bad behavior in the workplace from anyone…including yourself.
Make sure that all of your employees are encouraged to continue to develop as high-level professionals. Your continued support of your employees will create an atmosphere of loyalty and happiness.
Professional development opportunities exist for everyone, even your receptionist. Make sure that your law firm has a budget to pay for the professional development of your employees. It may seem expensive, but it means that your law firm learns the best practices for their responsibilities. When those best practices are implemented by each of your employees, you will get more than a highly professional team. You’ll get a top of the line law firm that people want to work with.
Create Written Policies and Procedures
One of the current best practices for law firms is to use checklists to ensure that nothing is missed in many of the common tasks that must be done. Using checklists are a good idea since it is short and provides a visual of what needs to be done, but they’re checklists so they’re not made to be substantive.
You should go above and beyond the checklist. Yes, a checklist is a great tool, and you should certainly have them around. They provide a quick guide for employees who don’t need more guidance. You must have written policies and procedures for each and every part of your law firm. Written policies and procedures can help your employees by providing a detailed walk-through of each task. It also provides guidelines on how clients are treated. This is one of the best ways to know that your clients are all treated the same way.
Inform Clients of Policies and Procedures
One of the easiest ways that you can minimize the number of frustrated clients that call you is to make sure that they understand your policies and procedures. No, they don’t need a copy of your manuals. What they do need is for you to explain how their bills are calculated, when the bills are sent out, and when payment is due. They need to know who they can call to have their questions answered. Inform your clients how long they might wait for a return phone call (aim to return all calls within 24 hours even if you have to call and say that you’re still researching the matter). Finally, make sure that your clients know how long you retain client files after a case is closed. Your file destruction policy should be explained by you and also explained in writing in your retainer agreement.
Disaster Readiness Plan
Your firm’s disaster readiness plan will largely depend on your location. Your law firm needs a plan for whatever natural disaster is most likely to hit your area. How will you ensure that your staff is accounted for? What should happen if disaster strikes during work hours? Don’t forget to plan for disasters that everyone is at risk for such as fires.
Contact Clients A.R.M. for More Information
Do you need more information about best practices for your law firm? Could you use help writing your policies and procedures? If you answered yes to either of those questions, contact Clients A.R.M. We have more than 30 years of experience and we can help your law firm put your best practices into writing. Find out just how we can help. Give us a call and schedule your free process review. We’d love to hear from you!