6 Tips for Effective Law Office Management

It’s easy to forget that law firms are not just legal practices. They’re businesses. And, like any other business, they need proper management if they’re going to thrive. While you might excel at what you do as an attorney, chances are good that your business management skills leave something to be desired. It’s one of the reasons that medium and larger firms often have an office manager who handles things that fall outside the legal aspect of the business.

What is law office management?

Law office management accounts for anything that doesn’t relate directly to a client’s case. That includes things like marketing and billing, but it also includes payroll, budgeting, hiring, working with vendors and partners, creating policies and procedures, onboarding/offboarding, and so much more. 

Given the vast number of management tasks that fall under this heading and how dissimilar they are to the legal practice management aspects you’re experienced in, it’s natural to stumble from time to time. We have six tips for effective law office management that can improve your situation.


Effective law office management tips

Change your law office management for the better with these critical tips.


1. Know your law firm's business plan

All law firms should have a business plan in place. It dictates things like competitors and how you stand out from them. It also highlights how you’ll market your practice and other critical details. 

Knowing your law firm’s business plan will help immensely when it comes to managing things like attorney compensation and creating cohesive marketing strategies that capitalize on your firm’s strengths. You’ll also find that your business plan is critical for securing funding when you want to scale, hire, or add locations.

2. Know your law firm’s persona

Law offices must market their services the same as any other business. And just like businesses in other industries, you need to ensure that your marketing material is cohesive and supports your chosen brand. Think of it like your firm’s personality. 

Are you polished and professional? Compassionate and understanding? Dogged and committed? You’ll want to tie your persona to a few specific things. For instance, your specialty will play a big role, whether that’s personal injury law, estate and probate law, or something else. 

You’ll also want to speak directly to your ideal client in a tone that resonates with them. That might be young and professional, wise and experienced, or something different.

3. Invest in team training

A successful law firm operates like a well-oiled machine. For that to happen, your people need the skills and competencies required. Your law office management strategy should include investments for your team’s professional development, as well as for their health and wellness. 

What does professional development look like? Certainly, one-on-one meetings with more senior team members are important. However, don’t overlook formal training that results in certifications and enhanced capabilities. It can also include attending legal conferences, networking with other legal professionals, and other aspects.

It’s important to help your team members enjoy a good work/life balance. That will help you retain key talent and develop employees over time, which reduces your operating costs while increasing efficiency across the board.

4. Adhere to the gold standard for client service

Law firms often blur the lines between legal and business aspects. Client service is one of those areas. It’s very easy to assume that a client who’s had positive interactions with an attorney at your firm will be pleased with their overall experience. However, don’t forget that every touchpoint is part of that picture. 

You must be aware of the entirety of a client’s journey. With a holistic picture of their overall experience, you can ensure that all aspects are as positive as possible. Doing otherwise simply leaves too much to chance and creates a disconnect between client expectations, the reality of their journey, and your impression of that experience.

5. Keep your finger on the pulse

Effective law office management means knowing how your firm is performing at all times and in multiple ways. How are you performing compared to competitors within the same legal space? How does the firm compare to this time last year? The year before? What areas need improvement? Do you have a plan to achieve that? 

Keeping your finger on the pulse of law office performance requires that you monitor and measure important KPIs. Some of the most critical for a legal office manager include billable hours, number of new cases, overall revenue, payroll and expenses, your overall collection rate, client satisfaction ratings, and others.

6. Create policies and procedures and then enforce them

Policies and procedures spell out how employees of your law firm act, what’s expected of them, who reports to whom, and more. The goal is to lay out ground rules that help ensure consistency and efficiency at all times and within all departments. 

Create policies and procedures that fit your firm, make them part of your onboarding and training, and then enforce them moving forward. 


Bonus tip: Outsource key needs

The six tips we’ve discussed have major impacts on how effectively you can manage your law office. However, remember that time is perhaps your single most important asset. Working with an outsourced legal answering service can free your time, as well as that of your office team to focus on more important tasks. 

Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists step in to fill critical gaps with 24/7 answering, appointment booking, lead screening and intake, and even payment collection. What could your team achieve if they had fewer administrative tasks to accomplish?

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.

People and Project Management
Law Firm
Written by Tom Armitage

Tom Armitage is a Senior Marketing Manager with Smith.ai.

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