What did my associates accomplish last week? Knowing what your law firm accomplished, and more importantly, what you need to achieve next is a critical component of effective law firm management.

Did you accomplish your goals last week? Did your associates achieve the right utilization rates? Are you on-track to hit your financial goals for the month?

Your law firm’s analytics should hold the answer

Knowing what you did last week isn’t enough. Comparing your firm’s performance to a pre-defined business goal will improve your cash flow and make your law firm easier to manage. It all starts with setting a goal. Every associate should know their expectations for the week. Expectations regarding:

  • What they should work on
  • Their expected billings
  • Relevant budgets
  • What to do if they run into challenges

Setting expectations

As a managing partner, do you set expectations every week? Or do you only address expectations when problems arise?

Every week, each team member needs to know exactly what is expected of them and what to do when they run into trouble. If you don’t do this yourself, is someone else doing this for you? One way or another, it needs to be done.

Goal setting is free – Achievement is not

Setting clear goals is one thing. Having your associates achieve those goals is quite another. Achievement comes at a price.  In order for your firm to achieve its financial goals, everyone needs to be on the same page and they need to be compensated for performance.

Aligning performance with compensation

Lots of firms have the right idea. Not all get the desired results. That is our experience in the realm of compensation. Setting billing expectations and awarding annual bonuses is one thing. Creating a strategy that achieves your financial goals every month, every quarter, and every year is quite another.

In the area of compensation, we firmly believe that successful law firms link associate performance with the firm’s financial goals. Annual bonuses aren’t always the answer. Every firm is different. Establishing a compensation plan that establishes frequent reviews (i.e. more than once a year), offers periodic incentives (think beyond annual bonuses), and provides associates with financial and professional upside can lead to success.

A shorter feedback-loop will increase cash flow

A continuous feedback-loop is a key to quality law firm management. Gauging performance on a quarterly, monthly, and even a weekly basis doesn’t require a significant amount of time. If the strategy is sound, efficient, and supported by quality business analytics – assessing your firm’s performance last week won’t take a lot of time. In fact, its time-well-spent. You’ll make more money.

Analytics not only deliver you quick and efficient insights regarding your firm’s financial performance, but they also allow you to immediately assess who accomplished their goals.

Is one of your associates starting to become less productive?  Have the data to address the issue before it becomes a full-blown problem.

Is a flat-fee matter getting close to going over budget?  Get alerted to the matter before it becomes a financial nightmare.

Do certain retainers need to be increased? Immediately know whether certain matters are posing liquidity issues for your firm and take corrective action.

Analytics simplify law firm management

Know what you accomplished last week. Solid strategies supported by quality analytics will make your life easier. Solve issues before they become problems. Keep your team members on the same page. Set clear expectations and get regular feedback as they are achieved.

If you know what you accomplished last week, you can spend your valuable time on endeavors that move your firm forward.

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Management Consulting

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Own it.

Own it.

Whenever someone says they want to “manage” something, I cringe.

I immediately ask myself, is there a better word? After all, words matter. The words we chose carry deep significance, not just because of their inherent meaning, but because they give insight into our actions. They cast light on our motivations.

So when people tell me they’re going to manage something (or even worse, manage-through something), I immediately try and discern whether they’re setting themselves up for failure.

After all, ownership breeds success. Management reeks of passivity.

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Christopher Catapano, Bridgesphere Strategic Planning

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