4 Fundamentals for Managing a Law Office

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4 Fundamentals for Managing a Law Office

Fellow lawyers, whether you are green around the ears or counting the days until retirement, the amount of time you spend in your law firm office probably rivals the hours you spend outside of it. How smoothly that office is maintained and how effectively the management is handled makes a huge difference in how content you are spending all of that time there.

A law office, whether large or small, is only as successful as the team running it. Without clear policies and procedures in place, a lack of cohesion creates a shortfall of focus. If you’ re in charge of managing that office, it could mean the difference between efficiency and chaos. Consider these fundamentals:

#1 Do One Thing at a Time
Multi-tasking is only an effective practice if you’re able to focus equally on each task you’re tackling. And, since it’s a good idea to give 100% of your focus to whatever endeavor you’re undertaking — especially client work — the benefits of multi-tasking quickly dim.

I know we live in a business world that’s short on minutes, patience, and tolerance, but promoting an office atmosphere that focuses on doing one job right the first time may save money and hours in the long run. Encourage partners and employees to turn off device notifications when concentrating on client work. Suggest follow-up phone calls for clarification rather than an endless stream of misunderstood texts or chats.

#2 Respect and Be Respected
Get a whole bunch of lawyers — or actually a whole bunch of anybodies — working together in an office and there are bound to be conflicting personalities.

The key to maintaining harmony in the office is ensuring everyone understands how to play nice. Create and keep a respectful workplace by having established rules of conduct. No aggressive behaviors, no bullying, and no personal attacks. It may sound obvious, but some folks with larger personalities may need to be reminded about the basics of appropriate decorum in an office setting.

When possible and practical, gather your staff to socialize and get to know each other. Practicing the law can be a full-court press of client interaction, research, deadlines, and court appearances. Taking time to celebrate, to commiserate, to motivate each other builds relationships and strengthens the whole team.

#3 Invest Today and Save Tomorrow
Investing in an office means spending time and money on technology and people. Central workplace servers and automated legal document software streamlines workflow and saves hours.

Take the time to train employees on standard policies and procedures. Educate associates on the way the office is run, the internal billing structure, and other supporting technologies. Instruct office staff on integrated systems and software.

And whether it’s the administrative staff or associate attorneys — professional development supports individual career growth and increases each person’s value to the firm. Encourage your team to explore and exploit learning opportunities, and if you can, help them pay for classes or workshops.

#4 Write It Down
As lawyers, we know that anything worth doing is worth documenting. We tell our clients to document their actions, and it’s wise advice that we should follow, too.

Remove ambiguity and keep policies and procedures clear and concise by compiling them into an employee handbook to be reviewed and signed by staff and partners. Include any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and professional contracts together with documentation on confidentiality and client rights.

Promoting a client-focused office environment means creating a cohesive group of like-minded lawyers and employees. That’s exactly what we strive to do at JurisDOC. Visit our website to learn more about a free trial of our legal document assembly software and see how quickly you can start saving time — and money.


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