Legal Practice Management: 29 Question Health Check Up for Firms

//Legal Practice Management: 29 Question Health Check Up for Firms

With another year drawing to a close, now is a great time to take a step back from the daily cut and thrust of lawyering and have a think about legal practice management. In other words… your practice as a business. A little health check goes a long way – some of the benefits include:

  • developing a more satisfying and rewarding legal practice;
  • identifying areas of change to improve efficiencies;
  • improved communications with partners and staff;
  • improved communications with potential, new and existing clients;
  • improved risk-reduced practice procedures and processes to help safe-guard against professional negligence claims;
  • developing a more profitable practice which attracts and retains competent attorneys and administrative support.

Here are six key areas to consider when revisiting the way your firm operates. Answer yes or no to the questions below to check up on the health of your firm.

1. File Management

Do attorneys and administrative staff have easy access to each other’s work, including email correspondence with clients?

Do you have a file management policy and does it include regular and systematic reviews?

Is your practice consistent in maintaining electronic files or hard copy files?

Are file notes taken regularly and consistently?

2. Client Care

Do you only accept matters within your area of expertise?

Do you conduct conflict of interest searches before accepting a matter?

Are clients’ instructions documented?

Are staff trained in managing client expectations?

Are you able to discuss costs with clients in a straightforward discussion?

Do you confirm instructions in writing, including client expectations, the scope of work to be done, time limits and the consequences of missed time?

Upon conclusion of a matter, do you ask for feedback to determine client satisfaction?

Does your practice have a complaints policy?

3. Practice Communication

Does your practice have a centralized diary?

Are formal staff meetings conducted regularly?

Are records of staff meetings kept and distributed?

Is a procedure in place for the delegation of work?

Are support staff regularly supervised and communicated with?

4. Document Production

Does the practice have a policy on drafting and checking documentation?

Are you and your staff trained in using software to produce documents efficiently?

Do you use automation to reduce the time spent on forms and letters?

5. Education and Training

Does your practice have am education and training policy?

Do you maintain a continuing legal education register?

Have identified specific training areas for both attorneys and support staff?

Do staff provide reports on courses and seminars to share within your firm?

6. Business Plan

Does your firm have a business plan?

Is the business plan reviewed regularly?

Does your practice have a vision statement?

Do all staff know your firm’s values?

Does your practice have a current financial plan?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you’re probably plain sailing your way to 2014. If you answered no to the majority of questions, now is the perfect time to get legal practice management back on the agenda.

By |December 19th, 2013|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.