A 2018 report commissioned by NatWest in conjunction with legal consultancy firm Taylor Mowbray showed that rates of Profit Per Equity Partner (PEP) decreased by 10% alongside a fall in average profit margins from 23% to 22%. Legal fees on average increased by around 5%, but the report suggests the focus should be on improving PEP through increased productivity and efficiency in law firms.
The report focuses on productivity as a key issue for law firms and suggests improvements in planning and client engagement to boost productivity in the legal trade. Recommendations to improve productivity sound a little vague, so what are some tangible ways by which to facilitate improvement of productivity in law firms?
How do law firms improve productivity?
There are multiple ways to improve productivity if you look closely enough at your current practices. In any type of business, things are often done a certain way simply because that’s how it’s been done for years. Optimising your processes and procedures is a key factor in generating a more productive workflow in your legal firm.
Streamlining your current processes is a great place to start. We’re aware that there are certain steps that need to be taken at the start or end of a case, and although different depending on the type of case, there may be ways in which you can refine the process, smooth out any potential for error, and make the caseload run that bit more efficiently. Similarly, automating or using technology for some of the key steps for standard legal cases could save time and effort, as well as ensuring that appropriate next steps are taken.
Automation and digital reminders
An example of this type of automation could be system-based checklists that could be used for opening and closing cases on IT systems. Standard tasks such as opening a file, assigning cases, and invoicing can be flagged on systems to ensure tasks are undertaken promptly and not duplicated. This takes responsibility away from individuals remembering to do things, and system-generated prompts can assist in tasks being completed on time in order for the case to progress.
There are other administrative tools you can use in your firm to promote productivity, such as activity-tracking software to exactly monitor what tasks per hour are being performed. Software such as this allows a clear picture of how long certain tasks take, offering the opportunity for more precise per-hour billing. You can also monitor the time tasks take, consider ways to make them more manageable, and boost performance by planning your tasks at each stage of the legal case process.
Broaden your IT horizons
Law firms improving productivity in 2019 may be reliant on increased use of IT systems and technology to undertake and monitor a variety of tasks, from more complex task-checking systems to simple email filters and time management. Proper management of IT systems is imperative for this, and at CBS we can offer a range of remote and in-house support for your legal technology.
We can help with overall IT systems support, as well as more bespoke offerings such as improving your firm’s internet connectivity, monitoring performance, and undertaking secure back-ups or updates to your IT systems.
Enhancing your firm’s performance in 2019 is a great step towards improving productivity and successfully winning the clients you deserve. Our bespoke IT support allows you to embrace technology to help you get the job done, with a guarantee that your systems will be monitored and managed without bringing extra resources into your firm. Contact us today for more information and see how we can help your law firms improve productivity this year.