COVID was without question a curse. But in some ways, it gave us the opportunity to improve our practices. First, it allowed us to take a breath and take stock. What’s important? What are we doing? How can we do it better? It also forced us to implement and integrate some technological advancements. Though many had been taking advantage of remote access and working remotely, others were forced. Remote work also allowed or forced us to implement some streamlining to our processes using technology. But rather than being made to adopt a stop-gap solution, perhaps the pandemic shed some light on what is not only possible but necessary for a more successful streamlined practice.
Several processes can be found in practically every type of practice including intake, producing work products, billing, and file storage.
Streamlining these processes provides many benefits, including securing and retaining clients, creating efficiencies that maximize revenue, maximizing the recovery of fees and expenses, saving costs, reducing headaches and stress, and ensuring compliance with our professional responsibilities. Taking the time to address and improve these processes will save exponentially greater time in the future.
As attorneys, we often overlook the processes within our practice that don’t directly involve us. We rely on others to manage them.
New staff members are trained without our input or involvement. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” is our guide. But the reality is that it could be broken. We should never forget our clients’ perspective (or prospective clients’ perspective) on what is happening in their engagements with our office.
Client Intake Process
How easy, quick, and simple is it to convert a lead into a client? Do we follow a standard process in doing so? How can it be standardized and streamlined?
Producing Work Product
Do we spend needless time repeatedly generating the same document (with minimum changes)?
Just because you don’t spend any more time doing it doesn’t mean that your staff isn’t wasting time. Time saved means more time spent on other things at a minimum, and ultimately less staff (and associated overhead). Do we spend wasted time trying to find examples of documents that we can use to create a new one? Can we create some forms that can easily be completed so that document production is automatic? Are we using our word processing and practice management systems to their potential? Would some training or bringing in a consultant help?
Are we tracking our recoverable expenses? Do we have a standard process for accounting and assigning them to files? Are we keeping track of all our recoverable time? Is there a better way?
Are our files vulnerable to loss or damage? Are we maintaining data on our own servers? Do we have paper files that we no longer need to maintain? Do we have a file destruction policy and protocol? Are we maximizing our use of cloud-based storage?