Category Archives: Law Firm Management

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5 Resolutions to Make 2016 a Knockout Year for Your Law Firm

5 Resolutions to Make 2016 a Knockout Year for Your Law Firm

2016 is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to think about your New Year’s resolutions. While you’re deliberating about how to better yourself, why not commit to making your firm better as well? The following resolutions will help your firm get off to a strong start in 2016, and I promise you’ll be able to stick to them past July.

#1 Trim the Fat
No, not belly fat, but rather the fat (i.e., wasteful practices) at your firm. Now is the time to cut out unnecessary operating costs and make sure your practice runs as efficiently as possible. Investigate to see if there are cheaper options for certain expenses, and consider whether other costs are really worth their price tag. Remember, even small savings can add up at the end of the year.

#2 Get Paid
If you’re not already doing it, now’s the time to start billing and collecting monthly. This is the legal industry’s best practice when it comes to billing: bill all of a month’s time at the end of that same month, then send a bill to the client on a monthly basis. Monthly billing will quickly result in a monthly collections cycle with your clients, which will improve your firm’s cash flow and reduce your reliance on lines of credit, especially in the first two quarters of the year.

#3 Help Others
Encourage the attorneys in your firm to perform pro bono work, and do so yourself as well. It’s a great way to develop useful experience and knowledge in other practice areas while helping people who couldn’t normally afford those services. It’s also a great way to make connections that could end up coming in handy down the road.

#4 Get a Makeover
The New Year is a great time to update your firm’s look. Your website is likely the first place prospective clients go to find out more about you—make sure it’s up to date (with correct information and working hyperlinks), engaging and professional. If you’re using social networks, like LinkedIn. to connect with potential clients and other professionals, take time to update those profiles as well. These sites create a first impression—make sure it’s a good one.

#5 Question Tradition
One of the major obstacles to effective change and growth for a law firm is the fact that they are stuck in the past, in a manner of speaking. We’ve all been there—we don’t want to change the way we’re doing things because “it’s the way it’s always been done.”

Traditions should be respected, but not at any cost. Take a look at the present value of your firm’s traditions. Keep the ones that are still effective (that is, they actually help the firm to be profitable and productive) in place, but replace the ones that have become ineffective. It’s time to embrace new approaches that can help the firm grow and maintain profitability.

Everyone can benefit from New Year’s resolutions—especially when we stick to them. By promising to do one or more of the above in 2016, you’ll be setting realistic goals for your firm and setting the practice on a path to a stronger future. Now that’s something to cheers to!

Jump start 2016 by automating your document assembly, timekeeping and invoicing with a free trial of JurisDOC software! Our document assembly software makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents.

Check us out at or start your free trial here:

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Out with a Bang: 6 Tips to Ending Strong in 2015

Out with a Bang: 6 Tips to Ending Strong in 2015

The year is winding down, but as I’m sure you know, that doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off. The way you end 2015 will be a big factor in how you start 2016. Follow these tips to make sure you end this year on a high note.

Take Stock
How did 2015 go for your firm? Take some time to review the past year’s wins and losses. Did you do better than you expected? Worse? Celebrate your wins! Look for the lessons to be gleaned from this year’s performance, and make note of them. This way you will be in a better position to ensure you don’t repeat the mistakes you made this past year, as well as build on the successes you did have.

File & Fix
There’s no better way to kick off the new year than with an organized office. Go through your filing cabinets, computer folders and the office itself and clean out anything you don’t need. Put things that are out of place back where they belong. Fix or replace anything that’s broken. Get yourself ready to start with a clean slate in 2016 and focus all your attention on the business itself.

Give & Take
Make time to listen to feedback from direct reports, as well as to give them feedback yourself. Ask employees for suggestions about areas for improvement and get their input on your planning for next year. Different ideas and perspectives on how to move forward can be eye opening, and are often just the thing a firm needs to start strong in the new year.

Give Thanks
Doubtless you’ve had some people that have helped you throughout the year. Show your appreciation for them with a thoughtful thank-you. Write a sincere thank-you note; send a gift basket with some of their favorite foods; take them out to lunch; whatever gesture feels right to you, as long as it gets your appreciation across.

Connect with Clients

Managing your client relationships is very important to the success of your business. As this year winds down, take time to check in with every client and make sure they’re satisfied. See if there’s any way you could serve them more effectively in 2016, or if there are additional services they’d be interested in.

Set Goals
Starting the year with short- and long-term goals in place helps to keep your firm on track throughout the year. Think about what you would like to achieve in 2016, and then work backwards to see what you need to achieve—by mid-year, in each quarter, in the first few weeks of the year—to reach your goals. Put your goals in writing and then make sure to share them with everyone at the firm, so everyone is on the same page and working together.

No matter how your firm did this year, there’s always room for a little improvement at the end of the year. These tips don’t take much time and they’ll help ensure that your transition to 2016 is a good one—don’t miss this opportunity to end 2015 on a high note!
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAXPAAAAJGY0ZGQxNTI2LTU5Y2MtNDMzYi05NTA5LWE1Y2U0MjMxNDQ5NAOne way to ensure your firm starts strong in 2016 is to invest in documentassembly software. JurisDOC software makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. Check us out at or start your free trial here:

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A Lawyer’s Tips to Staying Productive and Happy in the Holidays

A Lawyer’s Tips to Staying Productive and Happy in the Holidays

The holiday season is once again approaching, along with the hubbub and disorder that inevitably accompany it. This time of year can be stressful enough with travel plans, gift shopping, and seeing your crazy relatives; the last thing you need is for work stress to pile on and turn you into a total Scrooge.

To help keep the holidays organized and productive—and maybe even joyful, I wanted to share a few tips that have been useful to me in navigating this time of the year.

#1 Send Holiday Cards
This is a no-brainer. Everyone likes to be remembered, and holiday cards are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to show your former and current clients that you are thinking of them. A few things to note:

  • Make sure the cards do not refer to one specific holiday. The world is culturally diverse, and holiday greetings are meant to show appreciation and good will—not to inadvertently offend the recipient. Cards that express “Holiday Greetings” or “Best Wishes for the Holiday Season” are the way to go.
  • Make sure it’s paper! E-cards don’t exactly elicit the same fuzzy feelings as paper greeting cards.
  • Get them out early—right after Thanksgiving is ideal. That way your card will be sitting on shelves—garnering awareness and appreciation—for a good while, and you can focus on other things.

#2 Get Your Finances in Order
Don’t wait until year-end to get down to tax planning. Meet with your tax advisor or financial planner now—while they can still affect this tax year, as well as help you plan for next year.

And don’t neglect to prepare your budget for 2016. Without a plan in place, you may end up making decisions that cost you dearly, like foregoing cases because of a lack of resources or bringing on co-counsel for cases your firm would otherwise be able to handle itself. Tax planning and budgeting might not be glamorous, but they’re well worth it in the end.

#3 Office Continuity
Don’t get blindsided during the holiday season by technical malfunctions or other office emergencies. Make sure you have a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plans in place, and that your employees understand the plans and their roles should an unexpected event occur.

Additionally, set in place the routines to keep your data safe and your machines running:

  • Reboot your devices in order to prompt software updates and to safeguard against losing files in the event of a crash
  • Back up your server and computers to remote or cloud storage
  • Check that anti-virus software is up to date
  • Update your passwords

#4 Network at Holiday Parties
Lastly, the fun part—go party! The holiday season provides an abundance of opportunities to connect with people, and the best part is that if you go in with the right mindset, you can have fun while you’re doing it. You never know when you’re going to meet a referral source or someone in need of a good lawyer, but you certainly won’t know if you don’t go.

There’s no need to turn into a Scrooge during this time of the year. Follow these tips during the holidays, and you can finish 2015 in celebration and start strong in 2016!

G. Thomas Harris has practiced law for more than 45 years and operates the Harris Law Office, offering law services in Kansas and Missouri. Specializing in family law, he saw the potential savings—of time and money—in developing software that could quickly generate and customize the volumes of paperwork that accompany any law practice.

His product, JurisDOC, provides document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. Check us out at or start your free trial here:

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Billable Hours Only Pay Off When You Actually Get Paid

Billable Hours Only Pay Off When You Actually Get Paid

One of the most frustrating experiences as an attorney is when your client refuses to pay. You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears (or at least a significant amount of brain power) into their work, and now you’re not going to reap the reward. While there’s no way to 100% ensure that you get paid for the work you do as an attorney, there are ways to improve your billing efficiency and make your clients feel more inclined to pay their bills, so you don’t end up getting stiffed.

#1 Set expectations ahead of time
It’s in everyone’s best interest to discuss the fee arrangement with the client before you start the case, and especially before you send any bills. Make sure your client has a complete understanding of what you will charge for your services, and put the fee agreement in writing, even if your jurisdiction does not require a written engagement agreement. You and the client both can refer to the document if there are ever misunderstandings about the bill.

#2 Provide clear & detailed invoices
Provide detail, but make it simple. The bill should be easy for the client to understand, but it should also adequately convey the legal services you performed. Don’t use shorthand or abbreviations that the client may not know or understand.

And the description areas for time entries exist for a reason – use them! Let the client know specifically what tasks were performed on their behalf. It may even be a good idea to walk your client through the first bill, so they fully understand what they are charged for. Explain each individual charge and the work that was completed, and make sure to answer any questions that arise.

#3 Keep fees reasonable
If your hourly fee is considered appropriate, but a lack of legal experience results in your spending an excessive amount of time on a routine task, the amount you ultimately bill will not be appropriate after all. Or if you worked on a document and then had to revise it because you discovered a fundamental error, clients won’t want to pay for that extra time.

Clients are paying for you to get it right, efficiently, the first time. With that in mind, include all of your work in the invoice (so that the client knows exactly what you have worked on), but make a note by any excessive time to let the client know that they won’t be charged for that time.

#4 Make getting paid easy with legal technology
As always (or at least, almost always), technology is your friend. Software specifically designed for lawyers will help streamline billing processes and make your life – and your clients’ lives – a lot easier.

We can’t strong-arm your clients into paying their bills, but we can provide you with simple and effective software for billing those clients. Start with a free trial of JurisDOC’s document automation and client invoicing software and start reaping the rewards today. Find your free trial at

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5 Tips to Make Your Law Firm More Efficient

5 Tips to Make Your Law Firm More Efficient

As the old saying goes, “Time is money,” and that’s especially true for attorneys and billable hours. Making your practice more efficient will ultimately make it more profitable, so it’s worth setting aside a little of that precious time to think about where your inefficiencies lie and what you can do to change them. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Go Paperless
Or at least consider making do with less paper. This small change will not only reduce cost and clutter, it will make your practice more efficient. The potential benefits (reduced costs and labor, inexpensive and easily searchable document storage, improved client communication and storage) far outweigh the objections (hackers, computers crashing), especially when there are now solid solutions for these objections (back-up power, off-site data storage, firewalls and more). It may be tough to transition at first, but you’ll be glad you did.

2) Don’t Multi-task
Multi-tasking may seem efficient, but the reality is that it’s one of the least efficient things you can do. Dividing your attention between two or more tasks at one time ends up increasing the time it takes to complete each task. Try giving your undivided attention to one task at a time, and you’ll likely find that your remember things more clearly and that you spend less time searching for emails, tasks and pieces of paper (which you are using less of, right?).

3) Utilize Case Management Software
Case management software helps run processes and keeps workflow moving. Designed to help you manage client information, cases and business matters, case management software makes it easier to manage, protect and share information, as well as track and shape your cases to make them more manageable.

4) Track Your Time
Keep track of how you’re spending your time (whether it’s with a timekeeping program or with practice management software) and learn to recognize inefficiencies in your routine. Tracking and reviewing how you spend your time may seem like busy work, but ultimately the records will help you see where you’re wasting time, and hopefully galvanize you to take steps to weed out those inefficiencies.

5) Use Document Automation Software
Document automation software plays a critical role in providing legalservices in an efficient and effective manner. By automating the creation of repeatedly used legal documents, you can avoid the hassle of finding the right form to use and stop cutting/pasting the same information over and over again. You save time, increase consistency across staff members and multiply your billable hours.

There’s no time like the present to start making your practice more efficient. Start with a free trial of JurisDOC’s document automation software.

JurisDOC makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. The software also tracks hours, generates invoices and tracks payments, so you can spend your time doing what you do best. Find your free trial at

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5 Reasons NOT to Start Your Own Practice

5 Reasons NOT to Start Your Own Practice

Debating whether or not to start your own law firm? As I discussed in a previous post, there are a number of issues to consider when deciding whether or not to hang a shingle. You may have already decided that going out on your own is right move for you, but if you’re on the fence, here are a few reasons NOT to start your own practice:

#1  When You’re on Your Own, You’re on Your Own
At a firm, you can turn to experienced attorneys when you need advice on a matter. As a solo practitioner, you’re going to have to handle these matters on your own—or cultivate mentor relationships with attorneys from other firms. If you’re planning on going solo straight out of law school, this may prove especially difficult.

#2  Crazy Hours
Face it—you’re going to have to work some long hours if you start your own business. During the startup phase in particular, you’ll need to work weekdays, weekends, holidays and plenty of nights, too. Once the business is up and running, you may be able to scale back on the hours, but if you have no one else to cover cases, it will still be difficult to get away for a vacation.

#3  It’s Expensive
Starting your own business is not cheap. You’ve got to pay for malpractice insurance; the phone bill; legal research; accounting software; maybe even an office and a few employees. All of these expenses add up, and it may be more than you’re willing or able to pay.

#4  Risk and Debt
With those kinds of costs, your income will probably be pretty limited or even nonexistent for a while after just starting out. If you’ve got student loans and/or a family to take care of, the potential reward may not be worth the risk. Especially considering that, according to a recent survey, solo practitioners and two-person firms rank lowest in terms of billing efficiency. At only a 39% efficiency rate, most solo practitioners and two-person firms are getting paid for less than half of the time they work. Yikes.

#5  Difficult Clients
You’re going to get some clients who are a pain to deal with. They might fight the bill, micromanage, or email you with 50 different questions every day. Or even worse, you might wind up with an angry client who sues you, complains to the bar, or otherwise makes your life miserable. Whatever it is, rest assured not every client will be a walk in the park.

However, if after reading all this you DO decide that opening your own practice is the right move for you, having the right technology will help ensure success. JurisDOC can help your practice run more smoothly with our legal document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. JurisDoc also tracks hours, generates invoices and tracks payments, so you can spend your time doing what you do best.

You can start with free use of JurisDOC, and see how it can be useful in your practice—saving time and turning that time into money. Find your free trial at

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Making the Case for Document Automation

Making the Case for Document Automation

Automate, automate, automate! We’ve all heard it numerous times. As an attorney, it’s difficult to escape that word these days, especially when it comes to document assembly and creation. The knee-jerk reaction may be to say “I’ve gone without automation software all these years and have been doing just fine, thanks.” But there are legitimate reasons why you should consider hopping on the automation bandwagon.

Chances are, you or your staff prepares the same types of pleadings or documents over and over again, with minor changes, in the same types of cases. It might feel more comfortable to personally craft the words in each document because we can ensure they’re perfect.

With customizable software like JurisDOC, you have access to thousands of alternate clauses as well as the ability to edit each document. This means you can customize your documents, while at the same time, increase consistency across staff members. When changes need to be made, all relevant documents can be updated accordingly and made available to staff members, so everyone is using the most current and relevant documents, and error is minimized.

Save Time
Let’s be honest—crafting legal documents is a time-sucker. When you create these documents yourself, time gets wasted trying to find the right form to use. More valuable time gets spent as you repeatedly copy and paste the same information to the numerous forms required throughout each case.

With document assembly software, you don’t have to worry about any of that. In the case of JurisDOC, the right forms are easily accessible in an extensive database covering numerous areas of law, and with over 2,000 alternate clauses at your fingertips, little to no copying and pasting is necessary. If used consistently, document assembly software can save you 15-30 minutes, or more, each day.

Increase billable hours and monthly income
With that kind of time saved each day, you’ll get 6-10 additional billable hours each month, which translates to increased income. The question now is not whether you can afford it—but whether you can afford to be without it.

Stop wondering about how legal document automation can help you and find out—at no risk or cost. Download a free trial of our software and see how JurisDOC can help you spend less time assembling documents and more time practicing law. Get started today at and try it free.

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5 Issues to Consider Before Starting Your Own Law Practice

5 Issues to Consider Before Starting Your Own Law Practice

You survived law school, and you passed the bar. You’ve been working at a law firm for some time now, and have recently been feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the job. Or maybe you were laid off and are trying to figure out the next step in your career.

Whatever the reason, you’re considering hanging out your shingle and starting your own firm. But before you pack your briefcase and bolt from your cushy office, there are several important questions to consider.

First, you need to establish whether or not you would be comfortable establishing your own firm. Consider the following:

1) Are you comfortable taking on multiple roles?
To run your own law firm, you must be more than just a good lawyer. You will have to take on administrative and money-management duties (and personnel management if you decide to expand your practice), in addition to your normal responsibilities. In short, you need to be a business man/woman, as well as a lawyer. If you don’t already have strong business skills, be sure you are willing to learn them.

2) Which do you value more—security or autonomy?
Opening your own firm involves taking risks. Be prepared to live with uncertainties such as not having a steady paycheck and your company’s expenses exceeding your projections. If these are not situations you think you can live with, then starting your own firm is probably not the best course of action.

However, if you’ve come this far and feel that you have the right personality for starting your own firm, now it’s time to consider your personality and preferences in order to determine what kind of firm to start.

3) Are you a lone wolf or a team player?
Knowing what kind of work environment in which you work best will help you decide whether to be a sole practitioner or to bring others into the practice. If you thrive off of the energy of others and prefer a team approach, enlist others to join you. If you prefer to work on your own, a solo practice may be the way to go. Tailor the company to your strengths, and it will be more likely to succeed.

Personality traits aren’t the only thing to consider in the matter of starting your ownfirm. You also have to think about the following more practical considerations:

4) Do you have the money?
If you do not have money saved, be ready to borrow. This may be with a line of credit or with a credit card. In addition, you will want to keep overhead costs as low as possible – it may be tempting to rent a nice office with a view and hire a lot of staff right off the bat, but if you can work out of your home or find another low-cost option and function with no or only a few staff members initially, you will reduce your overhead significantly. Most businesses fail because they don’t have enough money to get through the first year, so be realistic about what you can afford.

5) Do you have the experience?
One thing that will help your business succeed is having experience in a specific field. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert, but things will likely go more smoothly if you have a level of experience and expertise that allows you to feel comfortable fielding any question a prospective client might have. If you are fresh out of law school or still very new to the area of law in which you want to practice, you may want to consider waiting a year or two (or more) before starting your own firm.

If you decide that opening your own practice IS the right move, having the right technology will help ensure success. JurisDOC can help your practice run more smoothly with our legal document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. You can download a free trial of our software and see how JurisDOC can help you spend less time assembling documents and more time practicing law.

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