Keyboard with efficiency written on itThis is the next post in my series on how to cut waste from your law firm’s budget. My last article looked at the need for lawyers to avoid needles hiring. Attorneys who chose to perform tasks themselves, rather than prematurely hiring associates, will save an enormous amount of expenses. In this short article I would look at the need to improve efficiency before making the decision to hire someone.

The benefits of hiring an employee should be obvious. It’s simply below an attorney’s pay grade to perform tasks such as copying, scanning, or other administrative tasks. Also, there comes a time when a lawyer is so busy handling cases that they don’t have time to perform new consultations – such circumstances require the hiring of an associate. The big thing, however, is that staff and/or other attorneys may be hired before they are actually necessary. The reason I say this is simple; before deciding to take on more salaries (a.k.a. overhead) you should look to determine if you can do more with the resources you already have.

Law firms are notoriously inefficient and attorneys I speak with seldom dispute this fact. Rather than cleaning up the inefficiencies, many attorneys simply hire more people to get work done. By putting procedures in place, however, you can get more done in less time and, as a result, avoid hiring before there is a need to do so. So if you’re sitting there saying it’s time to hire someone the truth is that it’s time to ask yourself if you can clean up your processes instead.

Now there’s an interesting thing about considering whether you can clean up your processes. Most attorneys will openly admit that law firms are inefficient but they don’t see their firm as such. Chances are, however, that there are quite a few things you should be doing. We outlined a number of things attorneys can do as part of our 30 days to a better law firm series. Such steps included an attorney auditing their calendar each week, and getting nagging things out of the way, in order to avoid last-minute “fires” which pop up. We also looked at why lawyers should adopt a “only handle it once” approach to their email. Implementing steps such as these, and sticking with them, will go a long way towards helping your firm to get more done with less. As a result, you can put off hiring someone a little while longer and save on ‘da overhead.

Why do you feel many attorneys turn to hiring before looking at their efficiency? Please chime in through the comment form below.