Administrative tasks. Answering phones, organizing your files, balancing your books—these tasks can quickly eat up your time and keep you away from doing your actual job: being a lawyer. In fact, it’s not uncommon for lawyers to spend up to a third of their day on administrative work. Administrative tasks put such a burden on small and solo law firms that most lawyers rate it the third significant challenge they face, according to a report by Thomas Reuters. The good news is that you don’t have to face your admin work alone. There are practical ways to handle administrative tasks in a law office that frees your time (and saves you money in the long run, too!).
Delegate Administrative Tasks
No one can do it all. But, unfortunately, if you’re like many lawyers, you may at least be attempting to. You may find yourself doing accounting, marketing, and advertising work, in addition to your title role. And if you’re not careful, you can quickly find yourself spending more time on these tasks and less time on clients and generating business. Delegation can help you take control of your time and save you money too.
Look at it this way; if someone else can do your tasks, it’s best to delegate them instead of using valuable time on admin work. Delegating is a vital skill for any senior in a law firm. With delegation, you can ensure that your more experienced staff spend their time on more revenue-driving tasks like relationship building and business development.
Delegating can also save you money. For example, the cost of having your senior employees complete admin tasks is significantly higher than if you’d hire an assistant. That’s because those tasks will cost you the hourly wage of your senior employee multiplied by how long it takes them to complete said tasks. Since the hourly wage of an assistant is much lower, having them complete the task instead of a senior member saves money.
And saving money means you can charge clients less and still earn more because you’re focused on more valuable work.
Not sure which tasks to delegate? Elizabeth Ricci, the Managing Partner of Rambana & Ricci, PLLC, gives their ideas:
“I delegate most admin tasks. My receptionist does the scheduling. I have an off-site accountant who does the bookkeeping. I have one remote paralegal who strictly does data input. My firm also uses a software platform for clients to do their basic data input. My platform translates their data into the necessary case forms.
The only new element for us is the remote paralegal and the software. Reception and accounting have been the same prior to and during the pandemic. The mix has worked great for us and allowed us more flexibility.”
Document Your Law Firm’s Processes
The first step in delegating your tasks is documenting your processes. Documenting how you do things is the best way to ensure that the delegation goes smoothly. Your marketing, billing, and social media team need direction to complete tasks correctly. So, create clear work policies that define how work should be done. Include everything from ethics and what deliverables and results are required.
Aside from this, set policies on how client information should be handled and what actions will be taken if someone breaks a policy. Documenting tasks works for several reasons:
After all, it’s much easier on you and new hires when job duties are defined and benchmarks set. In addition, creating a document for your internal processes and procedures results in better performance because employees know what is expected of them.
With clear instructions to follow, staff will learn the process quickly and become more efficient. When you’re more efficient, you get more opportunities to take on more clients and pay more attention to the clients you have.
Many regulating agencies expect you to have documented policies that are enforced and routinely reviewed. When your team knows your process, you protect your business in the event of a compliance audit.
“Like most solo law firm owners, I had to manage everything myself until I could hire my team. What helped me to delegate my administrative tasks was documenting what I do. I’ve recorded video tutorials on how to do everything from scheduling client appointments to filing immigration cases.
And my staff (which is 100% remote) has access to our firm’s digital library, which includes templates for legal documents, our firm’s policies, and operating procedures, and research materials.” – Bianca Jordan, Owner of Brazen Legal, PLLC.
Create a Remote Office
Once you train your team on your processes, there isn’t much else to do in terms of oversight. The truth of the matter is, your staff can complete most admin tasks remotely. Remote work may sound intimidating, especially when it comes to a law office. But, law firms can benefit from having their staff work remotely, especially when it comes to saving money.
For one, with less staff coming into the office, your law firm can save simply because less staff means you need less office space. And less office space means that fewer offices would need to be leased.
Switching to a remote workplace practically erases your office manager duties. With staff working from home, you can save on the cost of office computers, office snacks, parking fees, furniture, event coordination, and much more.
Remote work also allows your employees the flexibility to choose their working hours. For example, your staff with children can appreciate the work-life balance that remote work gives them.
Because remote work offers flexibility, it can also reduce stress and thus burnout for your staff. According to the 2019 IWG Global Workplace Survey, 85% of employers agreed that productivity has increased in their business due to offering greater flexibility. So, by switching to remote work, your law firms can boost their productivity and save money.
Jeremy Green Eche, Founder and Managing Attorney of JPG Legal had a similar experience. “We’ve stopped requiring employees to come into the office, for good, and we’ve downsized our space since last year. This means a lot of office manager duties I was handling before the pandemic are almost moot at this point.”
Outsource Tasks to a Third Party
If you’re a small law firm or solo, you may not have the staff on hand to manage and delegate. Thankfully, you can still save time and money without working more than your schedule allows. One of the primary ways to do this is to outsource your administrative tasks to a third party. Outsourcing lets you drop the monotonous, time-consuming tasks that stop your business from growing. After all, the best way to help your clients is first to help yourself.
There are many benefits to outsourcing your law office’s administrative tasks. Outsourcing can help you cut costs, focus on more meaningful work, and enhance your service quality to clients.
Jennifer L. Bennett, Owner of Law Office of Jennifer L. Bennett explains, “Outsourcing some back-office tasks can improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. Outsourcing partners can also reduce overhead costs by securely managing documents digitally in a secure manner over the long run. This will result in 30% monthly savings for firms. The pandemic has also created a large pool of talent, and the financial crisis has led more freelancers to be hired.”
When you outsource your non-billable work to a third party, you can reduce turnaround for existing legal projects. In addition, if you use a mix of onshore and offshore resources, you can also complete a project in a shorter time frame. Considerable time gaps between countries allow you to have 24/7 coverage for your business. Your offshore team can work through the night and have the project completed by the following day.
Outsourcing is not just for larger law firms. As your business continues to scale, outsourcing can provide flexibility and cost savings to keep you running efficiently.
“The sooner you realize you can’t do it all, is the moment you start buying back your time. I tried to do it all until I realized that when I was consumed with tasks, I wasn’t making time for what really mattered – growing and improving the law firm. I now delegate digital marketing to a 3rd party who has become part of our team. When faced with a new task, I always ask myself if I’m the best person to do it and if someone else can do it quicker and better? If so, then it gets delegated. Sometimes it goes to someone in-house, and sometimes I bring on additional freelancers. Anything that isn’t helping your business grow is something that can be delegated.”
– Renee Bauer, Founder of Happy Even After Family Law
Use Tech to Manage Admin Tasks
If you’re not yet using tech for admin in your law firm, you soon will. Tech is changing how modern lawyers do business.
Technology is quickly transforming the legal industry from digital contracts, online research databases, and virtual client onboarding. These tech solutions can help make completing administrative tasks in a law office more efficient. But, you have to invest in the right technology for your firm.
You may already be using some software for your law firm. But, it’s best practice to reassess your firm’s needs and goals constantly. Tech can solve many of your firm’s challenges by increasing efficiency, optimizing workflow, and improving client experiences. For example, do you want to improve the client experience? Maybe an online self-serve portal would help. Need help with managing your team? Creating a digital workflow to streamline processes could be the solution you need.
With improved and streamlined processes, you can focus more of your time on your clients’ needs. And with more focus on your client needs, you can quickly reach your goals and scale your business.
“In general, managing a law firm involves a lot of paperwork and long working hours.
To make paperwork and billing easier, I make use of technology. Management of documents, case files, appointments, and file sharing can be done with software instead of paper billing methods. Invoices are often confusing to clients. To establish an organized billing system, invoices should be generated regularly and informed to clients in advance.
– Jennifer L. Bennett, Owner of Law Office of Jennifer L. Bennett
Managing a law firm doesn’t have to take too much time away from client matters. Like anybody else, you want your small law firm to grow. But, you can’t reach your goals if you’re tied up with administrative work. So, learning to handle your administrative tasks more effectively is key to your growth. Delegating tasks will help you reduce costs and properly allocate resources so that you can move forward. By following these basics, your law firm will be well on the way to success.
If you’d like help from experts in managing remote workforces and streamlining processes, we invite you to explore our services to get a glimpse at what we can do to help your business. We can even take on your routine tasks while saving you time and money, so shoot us your questions.