What Does "Streamline Lawyer Workflow" Mean Anyway?
Something I always got frustrated at when I worked at a large law firm was the “business speak” of department heads like marketing and human resources. It became fun to count how many times one of them would say “circle back” in a presentation. Bonus points if they used “synergy”! Perhaps that is what is happening with the whole streamlining thing: people are talking way too general about processes and workflows that they aren’t actually giving you some concrete info. I love The E-Myth Attorney book by Michael Gerber because he gives us some framework for how to look at your firm, but we still need some substance, right?
So consider this: almost every attorney has a thumb drive or a folder of form documents that she either received from a friend or stole from a previous firm. If she needs to draft a petition or complaint for a dog bite case, she’ll go to that folder, search for the petitions, find one that she likes, and then “find and replace” in Word. NO! Stop it! This is the first of many examples I can give for streamlining your workflow. First I’m going to assume that you have case management software. If you do, then it has the ability to build documents based on the information you inputted into the software already, so for instance, client name, date of incident, incident description, and so on. (If you don’t, then cancel your contract right now and get something better. I recommend CASEpeer for PI attorneys). While it may take more time, you MUST create a template that your case management software can use over and over again. In CASEpeer, this is very simple, and a lot like the “find and replace” system you were about to do in your petition. I have a rule that I live by: if I’m creating a document, any document, for the first time, I HAVE to make it a template in CASEpeer, no exceptions. I now have over 100 templates that I’ve created in CASEpeer (hire me and I’ll give them all to you!)
Let’s do another example of streamlining your workflow: checklists. There are a crap-ton of SaaS (Software as a Service) checklist platforms out there, including in most case management platforms. This is something that lawyers have a tough time with, because they know what to do, why should I make a checklist for myself? That’ll just get annoying, right? Think about all the crap you have to think about during the day, not just in the practice of law, but in running your business, personal life, etc. You’re not perfect, and stuff will fall through the cracks. You might not have a lot of clients now, but what if you grow more than you thought possible? Those checklists will be gold. Checklists, if built out correctly, are the key to scaling your business. I created a checklist for myself when it was just me running everything. From signing up a case, all the way up to trial, I had a step-by-step approach that I first wrote up in excel, then keyed into my case management software. When I added employees, it was super easy to just take a block of those checklists and transfer it over to them. It was also nice to see my own checklist go down! I now have over 81 separate checklist items in my case management software (hire me and I’ll give em all to you!)
That’s a great start - templates and checklists. If you start now, and each time you do something you either make a checklist item or a template, you’ll be able to have more time the next time you do the same task, less things will fall through the cracks, and you can scale with more clients and more employees much easier. That’s what we mean when we say we want to streamline your workflow. You might be able to do something faster once when compared to the time it’ll take to create a template or a checklist item, but the next 100 times you have to complete that tasks will save enough time to far outweigh that one-time commitment to doing it right.