This is my second post on how attorneys can both increase and keep their profits. I started writing on this topic because I regularly speak with attorneys who want to make more money but, unfortunately, are going about it in a way which will leave them spinning their wheels. The biggest thing that can give your quest for prosperity some traction is increasing your law firm’s efficiency. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time your firm wastes. This article is going to discuss some of the biggest wastes of time I’ve seen in law firms and is going to give you ways to avoid them. Let’s get to it.
There are few things in life which get under my skin. One of them is feeling like time was wasted for no good reason. Wasted time is death for your firm’s bottom line. Why? The answer is simple. If you bill by the hour then that wasted time will be marked up as “administrative,” which means you earned no money; you still put time into the matter though, which means you are able to handle fewer cases. If you bill on a flat fee basis then the effect of wasted time is obvious. In other words, if you’re going to waste time you might as well be burning money like this:
With some simple changes, firms can start saving time which, in turn, increases profitability. Doing so will help you to look like this:
Here’s a list of things I have seen, more than once, in law firms which can easily be eliminated (and yes there are plenty of firms who actually do these things). If any of these issues are present in your firm then clean them up and you’ll start making more of ‘da money.
Use a password manager – I’ve previously mentioned that attorneys should use a password managers, such as Lastpass, in order to improve cyber security. A password manager improves security by generating a unique password for every website you use and storing that unique login so that you don’t have to remember it. This also saves you time. I’ve seen way too many lawyers who recognize that they need different passwords for different websites (which is a good thing). The problem is that they don’t have a way of keeping their different passwords organized. As a result, I’ve consulted with multiple firms who literally spend a few hours a week trying to figure out their passwords just so they can log in to websites and complete whatever task needs to be done. It goes without saying that spending two or more hours a week, just trying to figure out your passwords, costs you a boat load of money. If you’re not using a service like Lastpass then start – today.
Automate as many administrative tasks as possible – Here’s a secret. Well…..actually…..it’s not a secret because it’s frickin’ obvious. Time you spend performing administrative tasks is bad! You don’t get paid for doing them and they take time away which could be spent on something profitable. The more administrative tasks you automate then the less time you burn up doing them. Here’s a simple one – Set all of your law firm’s bills to be drafted automatically! It blows me away how many attorneys I talk with who sit down and pay their firm’s bills manually every month. You should have them drafted out of your account automatically or a recurring payment should be set up with your online bill pay. This will save you the time of dealing with it.
Don’t have your mail going somewhere other than your office – For reasons beyond my understanding I’ve spoken with many, many, many (many) attorneys who have their mail going to a location other than the office the work in every day. It costs you time driving from your office to that mail location and it costs you money if you’re paying someone else to do it. There is literally not a single legitimate reason to be doing this, other than a desire to decrease your profits as much as possible.
Don’t open an email unless you’re prepared to respond to it – This is something I see from attorneys time and time again. They receive an email it, they open it, they read it, and then they mark it unread so they can respond to it later. Well, when they respond to it later they read it again before doing so. This means you just read the thing twice and essentially doubled the time it takes you to respond to emails. That takes money out of your pocket. Don’t open an email unless you’re prepared to respond to it.
Keep your computer software up to date/turn your computer off each day – This is one I shake my head at. I’ve spoken with many attorneys who always complain that their computers are running slowly. They also don’t turn their machine off each night because they don’t want to wait 60-90 seconds for it to start up the next morning. Well one of the reasons it’s running slow is because Windows needs to restart every so often to install updates. Those updates, in turn, help keep your system running faster. Many of these same attorneys don’t have Windows’ auto update feature on. Making sure your machine is updating automatically, and shutting it off each night, will save you a ton of time by the end of each week by ensuring that your computer is running properly.
While many of these things may sound like “duh” comments, I’m sure there are plenty of you doing at least one of these. Make these simple changes and you’ll see an increase in the amount of time you can actually devote to cases. That, in turn, will increase your profits.