4-minute read, 10–minute exercise
Do you know the time cost of your practice’s legal services?
We’re not concerned with whether or not you have a detailed costs agreement and can painfully claw back money from your client using the billable hour‘s method. If you’re serious about efficiency, you’ll either have already moved on from time billing or have serious plans to get rid of it as soon as possible. There are plenty of articles out there for you to read explaining why the billable hour is completely incompatible with efficiency. Let’s move beyond that discussion.
We’re talking about the amount of time it takes for your practice to deliver a legal service to your client and the amount of time for your client to receive that legal service.
Knowing the time costs of your legal services is key
When we look at the traditional way of providing a legal service, it’s not very efficient. Make a call or send an email, wait for a reply, schedule a time to meet, meet in person, do some legal work, make a few more calls and handle some more emails, work with the client to finalise a document or implement your advice, send an invoice and hope they pay it.
Say a few minutes per phone call or email, plus the time to read your to–do list, check the file for what you need to discuss and find the phone number or email address and a quiet few minutes in your day. Waiting for a reply is not too bad because you can work on other matters, but what about the extra time it takes to work on a matter when it‘s constantly stop-start-stop-start as opposed to having a few solid hours to work on it at once? Then while meeting in person is often necessary, was it really necessary to fill a whole hour? You get the point.
Multiply that by just 20 active files and every little time cost adds up for your practice. Now think about all that wasted time for every lawyer in your practice and over just one week. It’s not pretty.
To make matters worse, have you ever thought about the time it takes for your clients to receive your legal services? They are waiting for your call, missing your call, finding time to call back, travelling to meet with you, etc. Particularly for clients who might have family, life or business commitments, the time costs can quickly add up.
You need to look at how you deliver our legal services to improve efficiency. Now.
Let’s do a valuable exercise in the next 10 minutes. Use your legal skills to critically analyse just one of your practice’s legal services. Look at how your practice delivers the service, not what you do. Now break down the how for your legal service into steps.
What is the time cost to your practice and your client for each step?
Think about what simple changes you can make this week to improve the efficiencies in one or more of those steps. Are you able to turn a regular one–hour meeting into an efficient 40–minute meeting? Are you able to use software to offer your clients the ability to book appointments online or upload important documents to you instead of bringing paper copies to a meeting?
Now go ahead and commit to making at least one simple change to improve the efficiency of one of your legal services this week.
You’ll enjoy your newfound freedom
Let us know what you have achieved this week for #ShareItFridays in our online community group for innovative legal professionals. Come and join the discussion.