5 ways law firms can save wasted time and increase chargeable hours

Concert NetworksSometimes it just takes a simple idea to improve productivity, such as better reporting to increase visibility. But how do you go about achieving this? Here’s Concert Network’s top 5 tips…

Focus your Business Development Strategy

Emily Field, Law 360 said ‘people will spend a lot of time and effort speaking in front of bar associations, which is admirable, but the people attending those types of talks aren’t likely to be the ones hiring attorneys’. Business Development efforts that aren’t clearly targeted or planned out will waste time and ultimately bring down your firms bottom line.

Have a think about how best to fill your pipeline. Do you employ a sales team? Some firms have concerns that clients will find it off-putting to be contacted by a sales person. But our Legal Communication research found that an increasing number of non fee-earners are collecting details for fee-earners. The right training, systems and processes can create a seamless exchange between departments and improved experience for the clients.

Examine your marketing efforts

Field states ‘Experts advised that law firms looking to cut costs would do well to examine their marketing plans and cull efforts that are unfocused’.

It’s important that you understand which marketing campaigns work, and to drop the ones that don’t. Do your systems tell you where your inbound leads come from? By allocating unique telephone numbers to each campaign, you can use reporting software to give you real time data that shows where your biggest ROI is.

Log and record your calls effectively

Are you sure that all billable phone calls are logged correctly? Do you log them straight away, or are hours entered just before invoices need to be created? Call reporting software can accurately record call times for you. You can then run reports by numbers for accurate billing. And you can go one step further – imagine if your phone system integrated with your case management software, automating the whole process. Now that would make things easier!

Capture ALL the Time, Not Just Billable

Tracking chargeable hours and is often considered one of the main moans of being a lawyer or running a law firm. Of course, you want to spend your time as profitably as possible, but can you honestly say that you are collecting on all the billable time possible? And we are all sometimes guilty of questioning the extent to which our efforts contribute towards the bottom line on some days.

Scott Clasen, director of marketing at TimeSolv Corporation, suggests ‘This is one of those ways to really count time as money. If lawyers know where ALL the time has been spent, they can adjust and shift resources accordingly to maximize efficiency and use of time. Perhaps you are spending 7 hours a week on a task that could be or should be outsourced or handled by a non-billable employee.’

Do mobile working properly

Sometimes travelling on the job is unavoidable, but don’t waste the time you spend out of the office or on the road. With the right systems in place you can carry on working as you would at your desk. Instant chat, colleague presence, video calls and more are great tools that can help keep you working and in touch with your team or clients.  

Applications are available that provide secure access to all the information needed to do your job from a mobile device. You can even access and use your desk phone from a mobile; this consolidates your work communications, helping you to monitor your billable hours, and means that you provide a consistent and professional service, no matter where you are.

Legal firms are notoriously slow at adopting new technologies, but failing to embrace new software is a missed opportunity to cut costs, improve the bottom line and provide better links between you and your customers. Let technology fill in your blind spots and support business growth by improving your client experience.

So, think about how you can capture more time and bill more effectively in your own firm? How can your communication system help you to do that? Download our Legal Services Communication report 2017 for examples from other firms.

Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.
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