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A Powerful Example of Why Small Law Firms Need Policies

A Powerful Example of Why Small Law Firms Need Policies

In this moment, attendees had forgotten their mobile devices as all heads snapped up.

Attendees of this LegalTech session – Moneyball  for Lawyers: Using Data to Build a Major-League Law Practice – watched and listened with undivided attention.

The presenter, Christopher T. Anderson, asked, perhaps demanded, a young lady, a legal marketer, sitting in the front of the conference room to make circles with her arm in the air.

Still sitting in her session seat, she made a few circles with the unease of any unsuspecting attendee conscripted into participating in a teaching moment.

“Make bigger circles!” he snapped with the tone of a former prosecutor.

A pin could have dropped on the floor and the room would have heard it.

She made bigger circles.

“You’re going in the wrong direction!” Mr. Anderson said with audible annoyance.

Tension in the room grew.

She changed the direction of her arm, still motioning with circles in the air.

Mr. Anderson continued with his sharp corrections, perhaps once or twice more. At each exchange, she seemed unable to perform the task adequately and the discomfort in the room rose.

She stopped.

The lines around the corner of Mr. Anderson’s mouth looked to be restraining a smile. Then, with a softer tone and directing his comments to attendees, he observed she’d next wonder about why she had to do arm circles or the duration of arm circles.

A written policy or procedure, on precisely how to perform arm circles to standard in a LegalTech session, might have averted this procedural mishap.

The room collectively exhaled in relief.

Of Circles and Small Law Firm Policy

The exercise was a point to illustrate why policies and procedures are important, even for a small law firm.  Policies and procedures are necessary for a law firm to scale and enable partners to focus on the five highest-value tasks in a law firm.

Those five tasks are:

  1. Marketing and client development
  2. Client relationships
  3. Strategic planning
  4. Strategic management
  5. Highest-level legal skills

Without policies and procedures, the finite and valuable time a partner has for practicing law and earning revenue, is siphoned away providing direction for routine or low value tasks:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Opening mail and email
  • Answering telephones
  • Organizing your office and desk
  • Maintaining office supplies 6 clerical tasks

Sure, every task is important, but not every task carries equal weight in terms of value to the firm.  The secret to growing a small law firm, according to Mr. Anderson, is to “pick off” one of those low value tasks, hire someone else to do it, and create leverage for the firm.

The leverage, and by extension additional revenue gained, can be re-invested in the firm to pick off another low value task until the firm reaches the efficiently and optimal performance a partner desires.

* * *

Note:  Mr. Anderson is the VP & General Counsel for How To MANAGE a Small Law Firm; find him on Twitter: @LawFirmBusiness.

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.
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