Welcome to day 23. Today we’re going to kill multiple birds with one proverbial stone. We’ve already discussed how attorneys can improve efficiency by auditing their calendars on a weekly basis. In this article we’ll improve efficiency and customer service at the same time by putting together a method that ensures your cases are regularly audited.
We’ve discussed a few times in this series how the typical day at a law firm is spent putting out fires. This stems from the inefficiency which many attorneys seem to find normal in law firms. By making your office more efficient you won’t have to spend as much time putting out fires and will be able to handle more cases with less resources and staff. The last time I checked, the ability to handle more cases with fewer resources results in increased profits.
One of the big reasons why attorneys spend so much time putting out fires is that they don’t periodically audit each of their files. Picking a file up every 30-45 days, and ensuring all issues with that file are in order before you move on to the next one, will go a long way in ensuring that you don’t have daily “surprises” popping up as most law firms do. You’ll find that auditing your files once a month, and getting everything one hundred percent in order, won’t take much time at all if you follow the O.H.I.O. method with your email, as we talked about on day 14, and with your inbox, as we discussed on day 21. When you’re done auditing the file, and making sure that everything which could be accomplished actually has been, send the client a quick one-page letter updating them as to the status of their case and informing them of what you’ve done since the last audit period, what you’ll be doing over the next audit period, and giving them your honest outlook as to the case.
So in other words, putting days 14, 21 and today together give you a new way of managing your cases. Your day should start by going through your email inbox while applying the O.H.I.O. method (day 14). Once you’ve completed your email you should tackle your paper inbox while, again, applying O.H.I.O. (day 21). Since your substantively tackling your email and your inbox on a daily basis there will actually be not much work to do when you pick up a file at the end of the month to audit it – you dealt with case issues during the month as they came through your email and inbox, rather than just shoving them off to the side. Once you complete your email and inbox in the morning, simply pick up the file which has gone the longest without an audit. Perform all needed work on the file and send out the monthly report to the client. This is what pretty much every day in my office looked like, Monday through Friday (obviously not including court appearances, trials, etc.). This system made us highly efficient which is why I was able to generate seven figures of annual revenue with a far smaller firm than others generating a similar total.
Handling your cases in this way accomplishes three things. First, it makes you more pro-active on your cases and you don’t spend time putting out fires because those flames don’t spring up in the first place; monthly audits prevent case issues from “falling through the cracks.” Second, you’re clients will be happy because they receive monthly updates and you’ll find that quite a few of them won’t call the office as often due to their receiving monthly updates. This makes you even more efficient by reducing interruptions. Finally, you’ll get more referrals; being more pro-active makes cases resolve faster which makes clients happier and plus those status reports go a long way towards improving client satisfaction.
It’s easy to say you “don’t have time” to manage your day in the way this article discusses. The simple truth is that you don’t have time not to. Every hour you put into auditing your files, and getting work done on them, is going to save you several hours of headaches down the road. If you want to improve profits, and reduce your stress, this is the best way to do it.
Today’s action may initially take a little bit of time. Tomorrow, select the file in your office that requires the most work and begin auditing it. Do everything that can possibly be done on the file and then send a status letter to the client. Once you are done with that file, begin the next one. Remember, since this is a new system, it may initially take you a little longer. However, once you begin to religiously follow this practice, it will save you an immense amount of time in the long run.