Of all the key considerations for law firms in 2021, the starting point is understanding that the last twelve months have changed everything. And the remainder of the year looks as if it may be equally demanding for firms up and down the country.
2020 taught us a multitude of new skills – not least of which was the enforced move to homeworking. That said, with an uncertain economic climate likely to continue for some time, many legal practices are looking at how to plan for uncertainty. Here are 6 key considerations to factor into your business model.
Flexibility in how and where you work goes without saying. However, it’s not just about homeworking. There are other considerations such as on-boarding new staff, managing your team effectively and keeping business communications as free-flowing as possible.
Your team is not really a team unless it can work seamlessly when working remotely.
This is no longer the straightforward issue that it used to be. When everything was office-based, the focus of security was also office-based. In the advent of home and remote working this has changed.
Your cloud-based practice management system will be just as secure as it ever, but individual PCs and laptops running on a myriad of broadband connections require a more robust approach. Make sure your home IT security is as robust as that of your office.
The same issue applies to communicating with clients. With emails being sent out from a variety of IP addresses you need to be sure they reach clients safely. Take a look at email encryption methods and legal e-signature applications to bridge this gap.
No business ever went bust because it made a loss. The simple fact is businesses go into receivership because they cannot pay the bills. Cashflow rather than profit is the key business health indicator. That means getting bills out on time, chasing late payments vigorously and keeping a keen eye on work in progress levels.
You can manage these issues effectively by managing clients’ payment expectations, using frequent interim billing and putting in place robust credit and WIP control systems. Your practice management software should be able to provide you with key data and alerts for WIP and unpaid bills. If it doesn’t, consider looking at a new software supplier.
Remember: the older a debt is, the less chance you have of being paid.
Cost control is the other side of the coin. Over time, the cost base of any successful business tends to increase. So, perhaps now is the time to take a hard look at your outgoings and the value you derive from them.
It’s not just a case of cutting costs for the sake of it – don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. The real equation is value for money. For example: a case management system may look like good value on paper. However, if you are paying additional fees for a separate accounts system and Microsoft licences, a more expensive fully integrated software system may end up being more cost-effective and efficient.
Finally, your business is nothing without your clients and it pays to keep them onside by delivering quality service. That goes without saying but it’s not the complete picture. Existing / past clients can be a lucrative source of new business. Contact them regularly. Use your practice management software’s Client Relationship Management module and virtual strongroom to contact them with relevant reminders, information and perhaps even the occasional offer.
Uncertainty seems to be with us for a good while yet. Take a look at these six key considerations for law firms and reduce your risk.
To find out more about how cloud-based legal software can help you plan in uncertain times, please contact us on 0345 2020 578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
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