4 Steps to making going it alone worth it
From the team at Bluebird
Increasing numbers of lawyers are breaking away from large practices and setting up on their own. Having started a business myself after leaving “Big Law”, I can attest that it is an incredibly liberating feeling.
But with so many important things to get done, there is one area that is often neglected – your office admin function.
In a law firm with a team around you, good facilities and support staff, you can just focus on being a really good lawyer. But going it alone means finding time to run a business as well as practising law. Add the pressure of how to get new clients, and setting up your own practice is extremely time-intensive.
Clio’s (US legal analysis group) annual Legal Trends Report states that lawyers spend an extraordinary 48% of their time on administrative tasks. In addition to that, they spend only 29% of their day on billable tasks. I found those stats pretty shocking, especially if you invert it - 71% is unpaid!
Now, as a business owner, management and compliance are going to take up a significant amount of that unpaid time, but much of the rest of that figure is because you’re probably doing your own admin and typing, without much in the way of workflow processes.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Having good processes and systems in place are vital to the strong foundations of a law firm. They save time and money because your business runs smoothly and largely on its own, giving you the time to conduct your management responsibilities and be a lawyer.
Most lawyers will think nothing of seeking accountancy and legal advice when setting up, but may not think that the admin function matters – largely because the DIY approach is “cheaper”. But is it? What is your time worth? And do you really have that kind of time?
This is not to say that you need to spend time and money recruiting secretaries… a 4-step solution is below:
Step 1 - take advice from an expert on how best to set up workflows and streamline the admin function to integrate it into your new business.
Step 2 - start with a quality template and a branded set of documents - correspondence, memo, agreement, invoice and maybe even a Powerpoint. Your brand is a reflection of your quality and ethos, and it will be the first impression potential clients have of you in a highly competitive market.
Not only that, but it also allows you to deliver consistent, high-quality and error-free client work product.
Step 3 - be very honest with yourself about how “good” you are with technology – and in particular Microsoft Word. It is the most used yet under-valued software in the legal sector, and not knowing how to manage your documents efficiently will cost you thousands in lost revenue.
Step 4 - do a bit of training to learn how to manage your documents. You don’t need to be a Word expert. It’s about “knowing when to hold them and when to fold them”, so to speak. Knowing enough to learn how to do things correctly to avoid problems but also knowing when to hand them over when they go wrong. Sometimes, you need to let go.
Taking the DIY approach to admin office support might be tempting, but in the long run, that approach will cost you a lot of money and time.
Have a consultation with an expert and you will see how much they can help - not only in getting you started on the right foot, but developing a relationship that will support you throughout the life of your successful law firm.