From legal doc software tools to upgrading management styles, law firms in 2020 need to embrace as many optimization techniques as possible. COVID-19 has hit the legal services industry in a pretty hard way. Layoffs and canceled internship programs are the new norm, while it has been especially clear that law firms — especially the small ones — need to rethink its conservative work approach to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.

So, if you’re a small law firm in the midst of this pandemic, what exactly can you do to maximize your efficiency?

1. Do you track your working time outside of billable hours?

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While tracking billable hours is a norm, many small law firms find it hard to keep track of administrative tasks while admitting to struggling with their volume. We get it, tracking everything is a tiresome goal. Law firms are usually filled with burning deadlines, demanding clients, and lack the human force to even cover already existing tasks.

But if you just track all working hours for at least a week, you might find tasks and blockers in your routine, opening a discussion about how to resolve them. Who knows, maybe there is a pattern that you are missing because you don’t track everything.

2. Do you delegate enough tasks?

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Lawyers are born solo perfectionists, but when it comes to growing your business, delegating is the only way to go. Don’t think if someone can do the task exactly the way you would. Think instead, can this person do a satisfactory job?

If yes, then delegate, mentor, and focus on your other primary tasks. Trust and wise distribution of work are what make teams grow and succeed. Also, don’t forget that legal doc software like Loio.com can also take up some of your mundane tasks and free up your daily schedule. After all, it’s 2020, delegation is not just about humans anymore.

3. Do you share work insights within your team on a regular basis?

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Sharing is caring, but most importantly, sharing is optimizing. Everybody thinks they have a fine-tuned work routine, but when you get to actually exchange your tricks and see what your colleagues are doing differently, you might be surprised to realize you’ve been missing some crucial things. And that’s perfectly fine.

Human brains love to stick to a familiar routine, especially if this routine has not been associated with great failures. However, this cognitive comfort zone means you become blind to alternative solutions, creativity, and thinking outside of the box. The best way you can make sure everyone on your team is not stuck with ineffective patterns is to stimulate co-education and co-development through open and sincere communication. Sharing insights, notes, and routines is how you make sure everybody continues to grow as professionals within your team.

4. Do you have monotasking sessions regularly?

In the world of smartphones, fast internet connection, emails, pop-ups, and numerous digital screens, monotasking might seem a relic of the past, but it can deliver surprisingly well. Try to introduce monotasking hours in your team and let your colleagues focus on top-priority tasks without any distractions.

Again, the need to monotask is wired in our brains, as humans think in a tunnel-vision way. Focusing on one task for a significant amount of time will clear your head, reduce stress and anxiety, and let you deliver top-quality work. You may also find that the mistake rate and overall productivity of your team will go up if you are not bombarded by tonnes of calls, emails, and casual interruptions.

5. Do you take full advantage of automation and software tools?

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Small law firms are the ones who need automation the most, but as the 2019 State of US Small Firms report points out, they are least likely to use legal technology due to the complexity of modern tools. Fortunately, there are affordable and adaptable legal doc software tools to automate case management, time-tracking, and contract drafting & review.

Just start with something. For instance, paperwork is where you might want to use Loio, a legal document drafting and proofreading tool for lawyers and paralegals. This add-in is perfect to reduce time spent on documents with minimum changes to your working routine. Don’t wait until the legal tech revolution will trickle down to small firms — go out there and find what fits your needs.

6. Do you have a customer service specialist?

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Client satisfaction is among the most important success indicators for small law firms, yet few of them measure this metric. It is understandable: small business usually evaluates customer feedback through simple face-to-face talk. If there are no direct complaints coming from communication with clients, then the firm is doing good customer service, right?

Well, not really. Many clients don’t feel comfortable taking the first step and talking about the negative side of their experience with their lawyer. Moreover, giving high-quality feedback is something that many clients lack time and initiative, unless, of course, you ask them directly and honestly. Enter customer service specialist. Hiring a customer service specialist (let alone a whole team) might sound like a waste of resources, but it will free your lawyers’ hands for billable work and move your customer satisfaction to a new level.

7. Are you outsourcing tasks that you can’t fully delegate?

Many small law firms don’t have enough resources to hire a marketing or customer support specialist, but it doesn’t mean lawyers have to carry this burden by themselves. If delegating tasks within your team is not an option or if after installing Loio or other legal doc software there still lots of work to be automated, don’t be afraid to reach out and outsource some of the tasks that are outside of your field of expertise. A high-quality marketing audit or a detailed growth strategy from an experienced marketing specialist is sometimes just enough to direct your work in the right direction.

8. Experiment with business development

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According to Cohn Legal, PLLC, a law firm specializing in branding, an old-fashioned let’s-grab-a-cup-of-coffee-and-talk method of acquiring new clients might be working just fine for you and your team, but don’t miss out on the modern communication lines.  Many small firms remain conservative in their business development approach, which means that if you’re digging deep and experimenting with social media, customer service, and even the design of your firm’s logo, you might get just the right leverage to put you above your competitors.