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Eliminate productivity blockers to boost profitability: Part 2

Productivity blockers are inhibiting law firms' profitability and efficiency, Catherine Moffitt, an associate at legal practice management specialists Cosgrove Associates, tells AdvocateDaily.com.

But she says help is at hand. 

In Moffitt's role at Cosgrove, she often acts as an interim office manager for client law firms. By taking on a wide variety of responsibilities, including human resources, facilities management, and marketing co-ordination, she's able to identify the recurring issues that prevent a firm from reaching its potential.

Typically, problem areas fall into one of four broad categories: systems, time management, technology and support staff, or marketing, she says.

“Getting rid of these productivity blockers makes for a happier, more productive and more profitable workplace,” Moffitt says.

In this, the second of a two-part series, she explains how law firms can get the most out of their technology and support staff, as well as the marketing department.

Technology and support staff

In an ideal situation, Moffitt says law firms will have a reliable IT support person or team on-site in order to minimize the slowdown following a system failure.

“You never know when something is going to happen,” she says.

In addition, Moffitt says the compatibility of new software with the firm’s existing platforms should be a factor to consider when making purchase decisions.

“If your software doesn’t work in tandem with your accounting package, then it’s no good for you. You don’t want to be creating a document on one application, and then copying it over to duplicate it in another,” she says.

“It's best to do a trial of the product first to see if it performs adequately. IT should be on top of updating software as needed. You don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t move forward due to the new version not being installed in a timely fashion.”

Moffitt says most firms will benefit from having a single person with responsibility for lease renewals and service issues to keep office equipment operating efficiently.

And when it comes to support staff, they need to be skilled at the job you need them to do. If they're not, provide training, and if they're making errors, address them early on with examples and show them how to improve, she says. 

Marketing

Moffitt says a law firm’s marketing plan will depend on their size, needs and budget, but that all clients should have one.

“If you don’t have enough work coming in, then your business is compromised by potential lack of revenue and waste of resources,” she says.

In smaller firms, Moffitt says it’s better to be focused and realistic with a plan that encourages all lawyers to pitch in a way they are most comfortable.

“If you’ve got someone who doesn’t like public speaking, then perhaps they can write a blog,” she says. “Find a way to get them involved because if you come up with an unrealistic, overly grand plan, it’s going to be easier for people to just ignore it.

“We will often write a very modest plan based on what the lawyers like to do, and how much revenue they need to bring in, and then work towards those goals,” she adds.

Moffitt says it’s also important for lawyers to treat their marketing plan like a client file, and follow up and track progress in order to “keep the funnel full” of new business. Effective evaluation can also help lawyers identify their most valuable clients. 

“Check your client list regularly so you can identify the ones who are giving you repeat business,” she explains.

To read part 1 in the series, where Moffitt discusses systems and time-management issues, click here.

To Read More Cosgrove Associates Inc. Posts Click Here
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