A long time ago, business owners only needed the services of an attorney once in a blue moon. However, that is not the case for today. More and more businesses not only are consulting law firms on a much more frequent basis, but many of these businesses are actually hiring attorneys to work in-house on a full-time basis.
So what's changed in the past 50 or so years?
Business owners (and non-business owners, for that matter) have been the primary drivers of the law profession's growth during this time: the increasing complexity of business contracts and business relationships; citizens using the court system more frequently to referee day-to-day activities and routine business transactions; the never-ending growth and evolution of legislation at the local, state and federal levels.
What hasn't changed in the past 50 years? Consumers of attorney's services still don't want to pony up for these services. Business owners want the complexity that comes with a more multifaceted and nuanced economy… they just don't want to pay professionals the money necessary to manage this complexity.
So what's a law firm to do?
This article is the first in a series that outlines the ideas that attorneys can implement in their law practice to improve the quality of legal services while reducing costs.
Professional services firms, and law firms in particular, are great at wasting money. Timothy Corcoran of Corcoran Consulting Group recommends to strategically invest in certain areas of your business while resisting the urge to spend in other areas.
"If you want fine art in your Italian granite-tiled restroom, go for it," Corcoran explains on his website (corcoranlawbizblog.com). "If you want to sponsor every 5k run or splash your logo on every cocktail napkin offered and pretend it’s a wise marketing investment, go for it. But say no to the partner who demands his own graphic designer and high-capacity printing operation on the off chance he might leave a key proposal to the last second and need to run an after-hours-all-hands-on-deck fire drill to generate a boilerplate RFP response."
Get rid of your back office mess
As an owner or a partner of a law firm, you need reports that show your firm's accounts receivable and accounts payable. You don't, however, need two people to create these reports. This frequently happens in firms of all sizes - multiple people handle the billing and invoice process.
Another way to help organize your back office is investing in a state-of-the-art time and billing software program such as BillQuick Legal, which can help organize documents, receipts and invoices.
"Look at every single process in the firm’s back office and find ways to eliminate redundant and wasteful steps," Corcoran continues. "Don’t know how? Hire a firm that specializes in business process improvement to do it for you, or to train you to do it. Or hire a business process outsourcing firm and let someone else manage your accounts payable function."
Eliminating redundancies and streamlining your back office functions allows attorneys to devote more quality time with clients, while spending less time and money worrying about your firm's day-to-day administration.