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Rebecca Ritchey

Lawyerist Lab Member

We automated our entire funnel, from intake to onboarding. Clients find our process to be fast and easy and we can focus our energy elsewhere.

Swirl

Rebecca understands that one of the most valuable things she can do as a business owner is building systems that allow her business to run effectively and grow. The best part, she knows everyone on her team knows exactly what to do to best help their clients at every stage because it is completely mapped out. Even better, when Rebecca was called away unexpectedly, for a family matter, her team easily stepped in and kept everything running seamlessly.

Too many lawyers think their only job is to do “billable” work, but spending time building systems and managing workflows is worth the time and effort. In our view, delivering legal services is nothing more than project management. Viewed through that lens, then, delivering excellent legal services is about developing your skills in project management and systems.

It’s time to get those “common sense” ideas out of your head and onto the page. These systems and processes give your team and clients the peace of mind they (and you) deserve. This also ensures everything you want to happen will happen—in the way you want it to (in line with your vision and values).

Firms with healthy systems have:

  • Documentation– are all of your procedures documented so someone can understand what needs to be done, without having done it before?
  • Workflows– don’t make people guess what comes next or when to pick up where you left off, you need solid project management and it starts with workflows.
  • Tech– not the fancy new thing, but the tech that answers known problems and improves accuracy and efficiency.

01. No One Can Read Your Mind

Without much thought, most lawyers follow the same approach and do the same tasks every time they tackle a project. Then, they hire someone new, give them an assignment, and are frustrated when the team member doesn’t follow the same process.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode # 337

Establishing Systems for Your Firm, with Valentina Rose

Listen to Episode

It seems simple but we have to get the processes out of our heads and into a format our team can follow. Even if you’re the only attorney in your firm, doing this has benefits. First, you’re likely to find places to improve the process by seeing it on paper. You’ll more easily see how to simplify and automate the process to speed things up. Second, writing down the processes now will save you time when you are ready to scale.

Getting Started

At its core, a business is simply a series of systems that work together. When you pull back and think about your business, you’ll notice a few key types of systems:

02. Run Your Firm Like a Well-Oiled Machine

Understanding project management and workflows ensures that you and your team complete the steps in your processes in a timely and effective manner. Computer programmers have unlocked approaches like lean, agile, scrum, and Kanban that allow their teams to move projects through the pipeline quickly. Importantly, each process has a “retrospective” stage built in where the team can reflect on what’s working and what’s not to make interactive improvements.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode #353

Managing Projects Without a Project Manager, with Ashley Steckler

Listen to Episode

You don’t have to be a project management expert or earn a Six Sigma Blackbelt to use these best practices in your business.

To get started, consider:

  • Scope – how much time are you spending defining your goals? How does “done” look? Keep checking in on the ultimate goal throughout the project to ensure you’re on track.
  • Collaborate – enlist everyone in your team that works on the process for their input. If it’s client work, make sure you involve the client in the decision making process. Regardless, everyone on the team must be aligned.
  • Communicate – actively listen to the team, or client’s, questions, input, and feedback. Communicate effectively and clearly, using the most efficient method.
  • Simplify – constantly look for ways to make complex things easier. Eliminate steps. Simply then simplify again.
  • Iterate & Improve – the process of improvement doesn’t stop. Build in time for the team to reflect on where to improve the process. Keep experimenting and tweaking to make improvements.

Systems and having processes to manage them take your business from haphazard to effective and efficient. Everyone sleeps well at night, knowing the business of the firm is handled. It’s the stuff dreams are made of! Members in our Lab community build these systems with our support.

03. Goodbye to the Age of Luddite Lawyers

You heard us. Proud Luddites have no place in law. Every practicing lawyer must have at least a base level of technology competence (ethics opinions agree with us).

That said, we aren’t advocating for every lawyer to run out and learn to code (quite the opposite). But, every lawyer should understand that technology is important and should be curious about how to use it to improve their work. There is a difference between those proud of their technological ignorance and those on the path to learning a new skill. Learning technology—like everything else—takes time.

Technology isn’t something to pursue for its own sake. Too many lawyers rush to find the latest tools assuming it will “fix” all their problems. Instead, think of technology as a tool. By documenting your systems and understanding your processes, you’ll discover where technology can improve things. Understand the problem first and you’ll more easily discover how technology can help you.

Yet, there are a few non-negotiable pieces of software every business needs, including a way to: manage your sales pipeline, manage your cases, store documents, track expenses, invoice clients, maintain your trusts accounts, and communicate with your team and the outside world. You also need to protect your electronic information with the best security practices.

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode #341

Conducting a Tech Audit, with Zack Glaser

Listen to Episode

Finally, make sure everyone on the team is competent and trained in the systems you are using. Having software sitting idly on the computer does no one any good. Before you rush to purchase a new tool, make sure your team understands the capabilities of the tools you are using—software is often updated and legal tech companies listen to your needs and regularly address them.

Healthy systems supported by healthy technology allows your firm to deliver a consistent, amazing experience to your clients. Members in our Lawyerist Lab community unlock the benefits of this work by regularly systematizing their firm and having their procedures and technology audited by our team.

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A successful business is a profitable business. This means having healthy profits.