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How Would Gordon Ramsay Critique Your 'Law Firm Nightmare'?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Restaurant in ruins? Bed-and-breakfast going bankrupt? Gordon Ramsay to the rescue! But what would the world-famous, foul-mouthed chef have to say about failing law firms?

"Your billing is bollocks!" "Your filing system is a f---ing mess!" "Don't do that at a deposition, you donkey!"

Ramsay's restaurant-makeover show "Kitchen Nightmares" gets millions of viewers on Fox. While the oft-sarcastic Scotsman has yet to tackle law firms, we can only imagine how he'd react to what's not working at a legal workplace.

Perhaps all lawyers would do well to channel their inner Gordon Ramsay when evaluating their own businesses. Here's a five-step recipe for a Ramsay-like inspection of your own "Law Firm Nightmare":

  1. Does your business model make sense?
    Ramsay often does market research to help restaurateurs carve out a niche, and lawyers can do the same. Perhaps you can reach out to an underserved market like an ethnic community or even the middle class. Case in point: the Florida lawyers who hung out their shingle in a shopping mall.

  2. Where is your money going?
    You probably know your monthly rent and staffing costs, but how much do you waste by going out for lunch or using couriers or temps? Also evaluate your revenue stream: Is your staff underbilling for certain tasks? Are particular clients refusing to pay? (If so, here are some tips to collect unpaid fees.)

  3. What do your clients think?
    A successful Ramsay restaurant makeover includes plenty of customer feedback. For lawyers, this can mean studying those dreaded bad online reviews, or perhaps even surveying your clients (or missed clients) to see what you're doing well and how you can improve.

  4. Outdated website?
    Like restaurant decor, law firm websites can quickly become outdated and tacky. If yours still looks like it's stuck in the 1990s, consider a website makeover. What should your site say? Focus on your expertise in a particular field, as a recent FindLaw survey found that's most important to potential clients searching for a lawyer online. FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing team can make your web presence stand out with smartphone-friendly websites and features like 24-hour live chat.

  5. Is your staff working for you?
    Ramsay sometimes quizzes restaurant servers about what's on the menu, and sends them home if they stumble. Try quizzing your assistants about what legal services you offer and how much you charge. Maybe test them with staged intake calls from flustered potential clients, just to see how they react. On the other hand, if you suspect your staff is doing something unethical or criminal like ripping you off, consider setting up a hidden camera to catch them in the act before confronting them. After all, that's what Gordon Ramsay would do.

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