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3 Signs You're Not as Efficient as You Think You Are

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 13, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You're a pretty modern attorney. You've got an impressive website, newish computers, and streamlined workflows, all so that you can get things done more efficiently and effectively. You even hired your nephew to digitize all your old records last summer.

But there's a possibility that you're just fooling yourself. You might be more of a French taxi driver than a German engineer when it comes to getting things done quickly and systematically. Here are three signs that you're not as efficient as you think you are, or as you could be.

1. You're Screening Your Own Phone Calls, Checking Your Own Mail

There's a reason secretaries don't bill $250 an hour. Your support staff's time simply isn't as valuable as yours is. Yet, in many smaller firms, it's common for attorneys to sort the mail, fuss with the copier, or restock the office coffee supply. That's great. After all, one of the perks of many small firms is that they don't have the rigid divisions of BigLaw offices.

But it's only great if you're having a slow day. If there's work to be done, tasks like screening calls and dealing with office chores need to be managed by others. Here's a simple rule: if the task doesn't produce revenue, it should be handled by your non-billable staff.

2. You Get Behind on Billing

Not staying on top of billing is perhaps one of the worst law firm inefficiencies. If you bill regularly, clients are more likely to pay regularly. If your invoices go out erratically, or just at the end of a matter, client's are more likely to be caught off guard by their bill, to contest large bills, or to drag their feet on payment.

And there's no reason for being slow on billing. You no longer need to manage your timekeeping, invoicing, and collections manually. There are plenty of billing programs that will take care of just about everything for you. And they're generally pretty affordable.

3. You're Cheap

A penny saved is a penny earned, sure. But if your penny pinching costs you time, it's also costing you money and probably more money than you're saving. If you insist on using the cheapest software, pay for only the cheapest legal resources, and hire only low-paid staff -- well, you'll get what you pay for. Sometimes it's worth upgrading on staff, software, and services in order to get things done better and more quickly.

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