Management Consulting for Law Firms
I don’t have to tell you that being a lawyer is hard. There is a lot to know, and it is always changing. We have many demands on us from a lot of different angles – clients, judges, partners, family, etc. The measure of our success is often out of our control and depends on the decisions or actions of others – judges, juries, opposing parties, taxing authorities, and others. And if all this wasn’t enough, we must run our practice, our business, our firm. No wonder the incidents of stress and stress-related health issues are epidemic among lawyers. The good news is that there is a way to minimize that stress.
The more time that we spend managing our firm, the less time we spend practicing law. That’s a reality. An equally stark reality is that we will quickly find our practice in trouble without good firm management. Where is the balance? Or does it have to be balanced?
Physicians have generally done a much better job of managing the business sides of their practices.
They free their time so they can focus on the income-producing tasks of their practice – seeing patients, performing procedures, and reading test results. Lawyers have not been as good at that. Because we all are, to a certain extent, control freaks, we will instead have a firm meeting where we spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing and discussing some innocuous element of the practice that actually costs the firm more than the decision is worth. Think about it. You know it's true. Does that mean that lawyers shouldn’t be involved in making those decisions? Not necessarily.
What has pushed physicians into the next tier of profitability? Professional practice management. Reducing the amount of time that they spend doing tasks that don’t contribute to their bottom line. So, what does this mean for lawyers?
Let’s look at the necessary things not directly related to the practice of law but important to the firm’s success:
Personnel and HR issues
Financial management and planning
Strategic plan implementation
Practice support systems
Sure, you could outsource all these tasks but then you’d be kept busy coordinating and managing all your subcontractors.
You could hire a firm administrator to handle and coordinate all these matters for you, but they would be expensive, and it would not likely take up all their time. That’s not a smart move economically speaking, and its inefficiencies often foster dissatisfaction in an employee who feels their talents and skills are not being used efficiently.