Getting Things Done: Learning To Allocate Time & Resources In Your Law Firm
As your law firm starts to grow and expand, your workload will definitely follow suit. The more clients you help, the more referrals they send your way, the more business you get. Even if you don’t sign on more than you and your team can handle, the sheer amount of work needed for several cases at once can really take its toll. Learning how to effectively allocate time and resources for your law practice can make all the difference between a smooth, structured work day and an utterly chaotic one.
Consistently Evaluate Human Resources
Once you have sizable staff supporting you, you should routinely evaluate each and every one of them every few months or so to track what areas they’re handling, what projects they’re working on, and potential expertise or skills that they may have developed. Write down each team member’s name, position, and a summary of their skills and responsibilities. Once that’s done, write down any current projects they’re handling (and strike out old projects upon completion). This way, when the need arises, you simply have to glance at this organizational chart to find out who is best suited for which case.
Determine Case Priority
Once you start taking in more than one case at a time, it’s a good idea to take a step back and prioritize them. Time-sensitive cases should be taken care of as quickly as possible. If multiple cases or assignments are due on the same week, try to puzzle out the more complicated ones, as those will require more time and resources to finish.
Remember; if the workload starts getting a little overwhelming, take a step back and decide which cases you can afford to put to the side for a minute and which ones need your—and your team’s—full attention. You can even ask your team’s opinion regarding the order of priorities, just to make sure everyone’s in agreement. Prioritizing the cases will make it easier to create a list of tasks to complete each day, which you’ll need for the next tip.
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Do or Delegate
Before the start of each day, write down everything you need to get done. Take the time to look through the list carefully. Chunk together tasks that can be done simultaneously—such as photocopying the files for several different cases or responding to emails and updating your calendar—and break down bigger, more complicated errands into smaller, more manageable assignments.
Once that’s done, split the list into two columns: the things you yourself can accomplish within the day, and the things you can’t or shouldn’t. Once you have your own personal to-do list, assign the things you can’t or shouldn’t handle to the people who are best suited for the task. Using the organizational human resources chart described in the first section, you should be able to figure out who has the time and talent to accomplish the tasks on your Delegate list.
Always Have Contingency Plans
The thing about resources—especially human resources—is that they’re unpredictable. There could be a power outage, a network failure, or a staff member taking sick leave for a whole week. It’s a fact of life that we cannot control what happens to us. We can only control our reactions.
We can also prepare.
Always have contingency plans for every possible work-related emergency. If one of your staff calls in sick, make sure at least two people are trained and prepared to take over his/her work for the day. Keep digital copies of all important documents, and save them to both your law firm’s server and a cloud server (if possible). Implement plug-and-play systems to handle administrative, day-to-day tasks so that anyone who happens to have free time can do them.
Whether you’re a fresh startup or you’re a seasoned legal services veteran, you want to make sure you’re fully utilizing everything you have for the sake of your law firm. Doing any less leads to a risk of unassigned tasks, unfulfilled contracts, a waste of resources, and—worst case scenario—a blow to your reputation. Knowing how to properly allocate your time and resources is a great way to ensure your law firm’s growth remains unhindered.