If you're starting your solo practice or you've been practicing for a long time, you might've heard lawyers talk about their work process. Some may argue that an organized mess is a thing. Well, that's not true.
Running a successful practice doesn't only depend on your talent or your savvy lawyer skills. Having the right law office management system in place will be essential to take your practice to the next level.
Not sure if your current system is your best bet at running an efficient practice. Maybe your practice is using the old organized mess way. Want to fix this?
We'll give you essential tips on the best way to organize your case files. Read on to learn more!
Law Office Management: How to Do It the Right Way
You might be thinking, don't we have an office manager who takes care of this. Well, you might've someone who helps you with it but, most of the time there's always room for improvement. So even if you've your own system, you can use these tips to bring more efficiency to your office.
Here are some essential tips you can use to improve the way you organize your files in your law practice:
1. First Things First: Take a Deep Look at Your Current System
If you've your own case organization system in place, you've to start where it all began. How do you organize your cases? Is there a logic to the system?
Every law practice runs on their own bandwidth. So a personal injury law firm might not organize their files the same way a criminal law firm would. Their cases require different types of organization systems due to evidence, and procedure.
The first step is assessing how your current system is running. Once you know where you stand, you can decide what areas you need to improve, or if you need to set a new system and start from scratch.
2. De-Clutter Your Office
Yes, you read that right. If you're a fierce believer of an organized mess being a thing, throw that belief out the window. To be able to set an efficient organization system, you'll need to get rid of all the clutter.
Removing the clutter will give you lots of free space. If you remove the clutter, you'll stop having a hard time finding that client file you've spent all morning or afternoon looking for. Also, you won't have to do something twice, because you can't find that motion you've to file by this afternoon.
3. Set Your Own Keep or Throw Away System
Even if you're done de-cluttering your office, you'll need to set a keep or throw away system. As lawyers, we've to keep a lot of documents in every case we work. But, not all documents stay relevant through the life of a case.
Also, many times we receive duplicates of evidence we've on file already. This means that when a document comes to your desk ask yourself, should you keep, destroy or store the document. Decide on the spot, don't leave it for later!
4. Organize Everything like There's No Tomorrow
Now that you got rid of the clutter, organize all your files. It depends on the type of practice you're running but, you should be using file folders to organize your cases. An example is that you could divide a personal injury case into divisions like correspondence, client documents, client medical records, defendant documents, deposition transcripts, among others.
You might be putting all your documents in one file under your current system. But, your lawyers may work better if they were organized by type of document.
You might want to use file folders in different colors for each document type. Also, it might be a good idea to organize all documents in chronological order. It will make your team's job easier when they're combing through the documents.
5. Design Your Own System
Every practice runs at a different pace. This applies to its operations and filing system. Let's face it if your system sucks your practice won't run the way it should.
Every case is different and, there isn't a set formula. That's why you must design your own system tailored to your needs. Your system must be easy to follow and applicable to all the cases you work.
You might consider even setting a uniform case labeling system. You could label correspondence from your client using their last name followed by the date. If you do this, it will be easier for your team to locate and. keep tabs on your client's correspondence.
6. Follow Through and Audits
Once you set up your system, you want it to stick. You didn't spend all that time and resources to throw it out the window. A good way to make sure everyone follows the system is by developing checklists for all cases.
You could even have custom checklists for different types of cases. These will be great resources for your team. Also, it will help to keep everyone on the same page.
Another way, you can make sure that everyone follows the system is by doing audits. You could audit some case files to make sure the system is being followed.
Can You Run an Efficient Law Practice?
Yes, you can run an efficient law practice. The key is putting in place the right law office management system. To have the right system, you must focus on the basics.
Find the flaws in your current system and, develop an approach tailored to your law practice. Remember that first, you've to organize everything before changing your filing system. Use the tools we've available to make it easier on your team.
Some may suggest technology but sometimes what you need is just a fresh approach. Your filing system is the backbone of your practice. That's why you must make sure that you have a tailored method in place.
Now that you know all there's to know about organizing your practice. Do you want to learn how to keep your organized documents safe?
Check out our blog post to learn more.