Every law firm is different, be it the types of cases they take on, the number of attorneys they employ or the billable rate they charge their clients. But there are some things EVERY law firm should have if they want to run a successful, efficient shop. Here’s a look at some of the most important of these essentials.
1. A great court reporting agency on their speed dial. Court reporting agencies are the lifeline of any successful law firm. Knowing that a qualified court reporter is only a phone call away can make every attorney’s life a whole lot easier when the time comes for a trial, hearing or deposition.
2. Paralegals willing to put in the hours. Most people outside the legal world don’t realize that paralegals are the backbone of many great law firms. They put in long hours and crank out the crucial work behind the scenes of the most high-profile cases.
3. An equitable bonus structure. To keep everyone from the legal secretaries to the senior partners motivated, a fair and equitable bonus structure should be strongly considered. This makes everyone feel less like an employee and more like a part-owner in the firm.
4. A policy on billable hours that is fair to clients. Over the past two decades, law firms have learned that the key to being successful is not gouging clients with outrageous billable rates, but rather providing more affordable rates that keep clients around for many years.
5. A partnership track that rewards hard work and loyalty. Some firms only award partnerships to family members or a very select few of their on-staff attorneys. The firms that are most successful keep the partnership track open to all their hard-working associates.
6. An office manager with superb organizational skills. An office manager helps keep everything running in the law office. Every firm should have a commander of the day to day operations who can maintain a great staff and make sure everything from accounting to office supplies are handled efficiently.
7. An up-to-date computer system. In the old days, everything was written out by hand or dictated from a lawyer to a secretary who would then type it up on a typewriter. Now, every memo and draft of every legal document prepared is kept on a computer network, providing access to a wealth of information at the click of a mouse.
8. Fast, accurate legal secretaries. Like paralegals, legal secretaries drive the behind-the-scenes activities at a law firm. They help the attorneys get the most out of their day – therefore increasing the amount of billable hours they produce each month.
9. Pro-bono cases. It is the responsibility of every law firm to give something back to the community. Even the biggest, most successful law firms devote a percentage of their case load to charities or individuals in need. It is good for the firm and more importantly, good for our society.