Law Firm Systems and Procedures

Many legal professionals at every level of the industry are creatures of habit. They do the same things they have done for years—the way they have always done them—in order to achieve consistently high-quality results. While this kind of approach can work well for solo practitioners and very small legal firms, larger organizations without standardized processes for every step of intake, case management, and internal operations can quickly become bogged down in miscommunications and inefficiencies.

Setting up functional law firm systems and procedures may not be a flashy or exciting endeavor, but it is essential to ensuring your business can run smoothly now and for years and decades to come. In practice, this means establishing standard procedures for how cases are handled internally, how attorneys and other employees interact with clients, and what tasks and processes could be handled by someone external to your organization.

Putting Internal Systems Down in Writing

There are dozens of factors to consider when starting a business, most of which can be addressed in a comprehensive business plan. Once your business is established and begins taking in clients, though, you will need everyone involved to be on the same page regarding how the firm will operate on a day-to-day basis.

This means establishing everything from:

  • Where work will be completed in terms of physical location
  • Where attorneys will meet with potential and active clients
  • How confidential information will be kept secure
  • What working hours employees of the firm will be expected to keep

These questions may seem simple and straightforward, but standardizing the simple things can go a long way in avoiding future confusion and maximizing efficiency, especially as a firm grows over time.

Standardizing Client-Facing Procedures

Just like there should be standard operating procedures for internal processes at a law firm, there should also be a clear workflow established for interactions with potential, current, and even past clients. For example, most firms benefit from having a one-size-fits-all format for invoices sent to clients, as well as a centralized system for tracking and processing invoices that employees are trained to use.

In the same vein, standardizing the structure of initial consultations and meetings with active clients can help ensure consistency across multiple clients. This is crucial for avoiding procedural and legal mistakes that could have dire repercussions for the firm. All such interactions should have a paper trail that everyone involved in a particular case knows how to update, sort, and store in the same way.

Outsourcing Systems and Procedures for a Law Firm

It is not always necessary to handle every aspect of your law firm’s standard systems and procedures yourself, nor is it always the most efficient option. Outsourcing tasks like document scanning and even certain procedural court appearances can free up time within your organization to focus on more important matters and better serve your clients.

It should be emphasized, though, that outsourcing to local legal professionals and smaller firms is not the same thing as “offshoring” routine tasks overseas as a cost-saving measure. It is also important to examine your firm’s unique priorities and needs before determining whether outsourcing certain processes will be helpful.