Systems Give You Freedom: Incorporating Workflow into Your Law Practice to Save Time and Money
If you are a solo practitioner or have a small law practice, you know that a lot of your valuable time is eaten up with doing small, repetitive tasks. They are simple, but they end up taking so much of the day -- things like sending follow up emails, confirming client appointments, or tracking down signed client agreements.
What would your schedule look like if all of these small tasks were already done for you? How much time would that free up for you to focus on providing client services? The answer, if you are like most of us, is a lot.
Creating systems of operations, or workflow, is an incredible way to save time, money, and improve your business’ efficiency. You and your colleagues shouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel every time a new client walks in the door. Instead, you can spend a little extra time up front creating a comprehensive and efficient set of workflow tools that will save you huge amounts of time and money.
Is Workflow Really Right for Attorneys?
As a lawyer, you’ve spent years honing your expertise, and the better you get at serving your clients, the more similar each client experience becomes. If you provide estate planning services or business legal counseling, the arc of service ends up pretty much the same each time: attracting potential clients, setting up client meetings, signing engagement letters, providing legal services, closing matters, and following up with clients for feedback, testimonials, and future engagement. This arc can be developed into standardized and efficient internal workflow that can be used by your staff and colleagues. With largely similar client services, it doesn’t make sense to waste time developing client service processes anew with each client.
With a standardized client service process, you likely send similar emails and letters day after day. You can save time and money by creating email templates for each part of your client service process. Without redrafting and proofing the same letter again and again, you save time and reduce the chance that your communications include typos or errors.
To get an idea of how workflow would operate for your firm, we have broken this process down into three phases of legal service: client engagement, client service, and client retention.
Phase 1: Client Engagement
For many attorneys, this is the most challenging part of running a solo practice or small firm. In a small office, it’s unlikely that you have dedicated personnel who can take the time to focus on attracting potential clients and converting them into new client relationships. However, client engagement is a great place to use workflow management. Think about a potential client’s first point of contact: if they download content from your website, subscribe to your newsletter, or call your office, they have expressed interest in your services. The ball is in your court. You might send a follow up email using a template or make a personal phone call following your workflow plan. By creating a client engagement workflow, you and your staff will have a set of steps to follow and tools to use to convert that first contact into a signed engagement letter.
Phase 2: Client Service
Once you get the level of client service, it may seem that things get a little more complicated. Every client is different and has different needs. However, there are still common communications that occur across every client service relationship. For example, you need to arrange the first client meeting, send follow up emails, schedule a signing meeting, and confirm future appointments. These emails should be prepared in advance as templates that can be modified as needed. Not only does this improve efficiency by saving you and your staff the time it takes to draft from scratch, but it also improves continuity and avoids mistakes.
In addition to the client-relationship benefits, this has enormous benefits for your internal operations. Internal client onboarding is streamlined by defining each step for obtaining client information, preparing a client file, drafting and sending an engagement letter, and setting up the signing meeting. All of your staff will be on the same page, and be clear on who is responsible for completing each step in the workflow. New staff is easily trained on both the client-service process and your firm’s voice and style of communication. With a carefully outlined workflow plan, each client will receive consistent and well-organized communications. No client falls through the cracks and no email is sent out in a hurry with typos.
Phase 3: Client Retention
The end of the client relationship is the phase that is most at risk for being forgotten during a busy work week. However, a clear workflow and prepared communication templates makes client offboarding and retention an easy part of the process. Your process may include sending a letter closing the specific service, a client gift and thank you note, and a request to complete a client survey or testimonial. These small steps demonstrate your clients’ importance to your firm and improve the chances of long-term client retention. Template emails can even be used to keep the relationship open over time by sending periodic check-ins and updates.
Content Upgrade: Sample Workflow
Fill out the form below to download our FREE Sample Workflow. This sample shows how you can create a workflow tool for internal use during client onboarding. This helps keep new client information organized, ensures that the new client has a great first experience with your firm, and prevents any steps from falling through the cracks.
If you are interested in talking more about how workflow can improve your firm’s efficiency, feel free to contact us. We are obsessed with creating intuitive processes to improve businesses, and we would love to hear from you!