According to the 2015 Canadian Lawyer Compensation Survey, most attorneys (at best) are stuck in the status quo. Bonuses for achieving billable targets are staying the same, if not decreasing. The survey results suggests “law firms are looking elsewhere when it comes to measuring the work product of their lawyers.”
Overall revenue growth is slowing down. Citi’s quarterly report on the financial landscape for law firms indicates that demand for legal services was essentially flat, leading to modest revenue growth. Lower rate increases (the lowest since 2009) and longer collection cycles were also factors attributing to this modest revenue growth. In addition, the Citi report indicates expenses grew faster than revenue, making an impact on profit margins.
When this happens, the focus often shifts to the attorneys, as leadership at the firm often suggests these common solutions:
Attorneys need to work more (bill more hours).
The firm needs to hire more attorneys.
The firm needs to reexamine/adjust billing rates.
One or all of the above statements might be true, but before you create a job listing and/or demand more time from your already overworked attorneys, why not consider a few ways to get more out of your existing resources?
Increase Firm Revenue Without Demanding More From Your Attorneys
#1: Keep better and more accurate time records.
Firms often lose time that is not tracked due to inefficient and antiquated timekeeping practices. There is a simple fix to avoid this: contemporaneous time entry. If you are not practicing contemporaneous time entry, it is likely that you are hemorrhaging your billable hours. In essence, it is not about working more hours, it is about being diligent recording the work done.
#2: Don’t let accuracy be your achilles.
The need for accuracy is not limited to timekeeping. Problems with billing accuracy and compliance creates roadblocks in the billing process, costing additional staff time, compromising the client relationship and creating delays in billing and collection cycles. Focus on accuracy and you’ll see a material impact to your bottom line.
#3: Keep clients top of mind.
Consider the client experience, start to finish. Often we limit our understanding of the client experience to direct interactions between the attorney and client. In fact, every point of contact or experience with the firm factors into the client experience, and the result is a level of satisfaction. Transparency is the best way to keep clients happy throughout each point of content, meaning that they will continue their loyalty and refer other new business your way.
#4: Focus on efficiency to manage workloads.
How can you work smarter, not harder, across your firm? Technology offers many options to increase efficiency and get more out of your time across all of the firm’s processes. Leverage these innovations to your benefit. Not only will it make your firm more efficient but technology adoption and literacy is something that is now expected from your clients.
How do you increase firm revenue without asking attorneys to work more? Share your experience in the comments section below.