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Every lawyer likes to cut costs and save time. Inefficiencies throughout the office harm productivity and eat into your bottom line.
Here are four tips that can have a positive impact on your efficiency -- and your wallet.
1. Don't Be Your Client's Lender
Attorneys frequently have to do deal with clients who refuse to pay. Consider implementing a policy that clients pay up-front for services -- particularly expensive services such as discovery.
The attorney ought to strive to work with the client. But the rules of ethics don't require you to bend over backwards and to be your client's creditor. Clients who don't pay for your time and expenditures cost you big. If you maintain a consistent policy of "money-up-front," you're likely to filter out the riff-raff clients you didn't want anyway.
2. Stop "Multi-Tasking"
For years it was widely accepted that multi-tasking existed as a skill, but studies have suggested quite the opposite. In fact, the conclusion should scare you.
If you consider yourself a good multi-tasker, chances are you're deluding yourself. In an admittedly older piece, Stanford researchers concluded in 2009 that multi-taskers were less productive than participants who focused on one task at a time. The study also suggested that people cannot handle bombardment of electronic communication, cannot focus, and take longer to get started again. How long? About 30 minutes.
So, it's a better use of time to even work on one task exclusively and take a 30 minute break. At least you won't be inflicting brain damage.
3. Invest in Information Tech
The world is increasingly becoming more reliant on technology, despite the heel digging of older, more staid attorneys.
Now is not a time to develop tech-phobia. Recall that there was a time when people predicted that the internet was nothing more than a fad.
Taking the time to actually learn the IT part of calendaring, scheduling, and billing can make a tremendous difference in how time is used. In fact, larger firms are finding that such measures are necessary in order to weather the cost cutting measures that have swept the industry.
4. Consider Task-Based Billing
Unless you're already very settled into the practice of billing by the pound, you might want to consider task-based billing instead of hourly billing. If you're a large firm and your hourly rates are $700+, by all means, don't kill a golden goose. For smaller firms, however, there is some indication that task-based billing at least sets aside the dreaded task of having to constantly track one's billable hours (see above, multi-tasking), thus boosting your efficiency and saving your brain cells (also see above).