Running a law firm means ensuring every part of the process runs smoothly, However, this doesn’t mean your daily tasks have to be complicated. It’s possible to do these quickly and efficiently, without cutting corners or making mistakes.
Getting all the points of an important case in a readable format can be crucial, but how many of us recall everything said to us, however important it may be? And few people want to spend hours writing up recordings. That’s why legal transcriptions are essential and can save time and problems later on. The information can be referred to as and when required. It can be the difference between winning or losing a case. Transcribing can also be done in other languages for the benefit of those who aren’t fluent in the recorded language.
Searching for lost files and other vital information is not the best use of your time. Having a system in place can prevent that from happening. Whether files are stored in alphabetical order by case name, type of case, or some other way, everyone should follow the system, to avoid confusion and time-wasting. It should be one of the first things taught to anyone joining the firm. Having access to the information within a short time frame can reveal any missing information which can then be chased up.
Try not to overcomplicate the way files are stored for each case. For example: if a document contains bills, pleadings, or witness lists, it’s best to label it this way, perhaps with the addition of the case name it refers to.
Having important information in more than one location will reduce problems, if you have computer problems or if the worst happens and paper files or computers are destroyed in a flood or fire. You should also back up your files in a location, one which doesn’t require access to your main place of business. The cloud is the ideal option here because it doesn’t involve having to physically remove sensitive files and risk losing them, or risk them falling into the wrong hand. It should go without saying a secure password is needed to protect your files.
You could also distribute cases to those with the most suitable expertise within the firm. Playing to their strengths and knowledge base is the best way to increase the law firm’s successful case rate. For example, it makes little sense of giving a car accident case to someone whose specialty and biggest successes have come from negligence at work. Assigning tasks that play to your team’s strengths will speed up the time taken on your law firm’s daily tasks. Freeing up time has the additional benefit of more time for learning how to improve on any weaknesses.
Tasks requiring little or no specialist knowledge can be assigned to staff such as secretarial or administrators. This leaves those qualified in legal matters to focus on the more complex tasks.
One way to avoid omitting information is to follow a list. While it may seem like unnecessary paperwork, it can save time and mistakes long term. Crossing off all the things that need doing ensures nothing is forgotten. If anything needs following-up on, such as acquiring further details, it will be easier to spot this. The lists may have to be adjusted slightly on a case-by-case basis, but many things will be the same or similar. This could include anything relating to post-trial proceedings or preparations for the trial, if relevant. With so much to do, it's easy to let something slip your mind.
It’s best to follow up on information requests or other details that might take some time to process, early in the case. This means you can get on with other tasks while you’re waiting for a response. If you have a short deadline, this is particularly important. When your schedule is hectic, it can be easy to forget if a reply hasn’t been received by the required date, or to miss other important deadlines. Setting a reminder can prevent this. If you check your diary regularly, then write it in there. Otherwise, use an alert on your phone or computer, so you receive a reminder.
Even when you have finished working with the client, you can follow up by requesting feedback and asking for permission to quote from that feedback, to gain more clients in the future. This is the most efficient way of securing work, compared to the time and costs of advertising your services.
Having to personally contact large numbers of people involved in the case, or for other reasons can be time-consuming. Although it’s important to address each one individually and tailor your letter or email to their specific case or request, a template can save a lot of time here. Using the template, and altering it to each email or letter will not only save time but once it’s proof checked you’ll only have to prove the altered text. This makes sending out error-free correspondence much easier. Errors can reflect badly on you and the law firm and may even lose clients.
It might not feel like the best use of your time to stop work for a team meeting, especially if you have a heavy workload. However, this is the best time to air any problems, make suggestions to anyone who has hit a stumbling block, and generally share expertise to offer and receive help and support. Someone may be able to find a solution to a problem you are too close to see.
It’s often necessary to share information with others. Usually, this is sensitive, so ensuring you use the correct email will avoid complications later. You should also consider the most secure and quickest way of communicating. Using secure software that allows you and others to create electronic signatures and track receipt of documents, will alert all parties they have been received and save time on waiting for physical post or meetings to sign documents.
So, it is possible for a successful law firm to save time without cutting corners. You can find ways to be efficient while still providing the best service to your clients. It’s just a matter of finding a good system that works for you and your team.