We can agree that being more efficient means doing things with
less effort and time. In our line of work, being more efficient
also probably means making more money or making the same money in
less time or just being able to provide a better service to our
So, how do we become more efficient? Well, let's start by thinking
about how we got to our current level of efficiency. Look around
your practice and give it some thought. Your practice can be broken
down to hundreds or thousands of processes, each on presenting a
potential opportunity for greater efficiency. To make it
manageable, put the different processes into a few larger
categories. For instance:
- Business development
- New client intake
- Research, drafting and other substantive case work
- Communication with clients, opposing counsels and the like
- Case management
- Document management and retention
These are just suggestions and might not be the best categories
for your particular practice, but they provide some guidance.
Your process is now to assess your practice's efficiency by going
through it in parts. Your object is to find opportunity for
improved efficiency as you go. That improved efficiency may be
gained with the application of a technology, such as a software
program, or by simply rewiring the process, adding more structure
to ensure quicker completion.
Let's take the example of prospective new client consultations.
How does it work now, start to finish? Are you personally involved
in scheduling the consult or is that role done by a receptionist or
through a scheduling module on your website? Does the client come
to you for the consultation or do you go to him or her? Or, do you
do predominnently consultations by phone or video chat? How long do
your consultations usually last? Fifteen minutes? A half hour?
Until the prospective client stops talking? When clients sign up
with the firm, do you personally go through the retainer agreement
and any other documents with them or does another member of your
staff do that? Do you capture all the facts presented by the client
in the consultation process for use during the case or is it more
of a conversation that requires the client to retell the story to
another employee at a later time if retained?
Consider these questions and any others that come to mind and
continuously ask yourself, "Is there a way to do this more quickly
of save time in another process without sacrificing quality?" If
so, what are the options? Brainstorm the viable solutions, choose
those you feel will work best and then move on to the next section
of your firm until the review process is complete. When you're done
with this part you'll have a list of several things to change. You
may, at that point, decide to change only a digestible handful.
That's fine. Finding ways to work more efficiently is one of those
things that we know we should do but chronically push off. Starting
the review process and then scheduling it to occur periodically is
a great start. Good luck!
Damian Turco owns Mass Injury Firm PC, a Boston-based
personal injury law firm, representing the victims of negligence
across Massachusetts. He is the vice chair of the Law Practice