Law firms are complex and fast-moving, requiring firm leadership to be strategic with every office management aspect, from creating systems to their implementation. As a law firm, it is easy to put office management aspects secondary to serving your clients. But remember, your firm cannot run itself.
2020 ushered in a wave of unprecedented and unexpected changes that left many law firms and other businesses scrambling to cope. Partners, attorneys, and office staff moved to remote work while physical offices shut their doors and opened virtual ones across the country. Although many anticipated these developments to pass, all signs indicate the opposite.
Law firms across the country and globally must respect that remote work (and work from home programs) will continue into 2021. An investment in technology and the cloud allows firms to prepare for law office management in 2021.
What is Law Office Management?
Law office management encompasses everything you need to manage your law firm’s business side. Functions include marketing, client relations, hiring, staff management, and finances (budgeting, partner compensation structures, trust accounts, payroll, and collections). Additionally, it comprises law firm management such as policies, procedures, working with vendors, mergers & acquisitions, and more.
Employment Law Offices in 2021
New Talent and Hiring Strategies
Law firms will continue to embrace new talent strategies moving into 2021. The pace of new technologies, shifts in workforce demographics, new operating procedures, and the requisite to maximize client value will fuel this development. As such, you will no longer limit your non-lawyer hires to paralegals, administrative, and IT staff. Law firms will continue hiring executives like CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs at some of the highest management levels.
Law firms will also move more of their back-office and client-facing functions to the cloud, necessitating the hiring of virtual assistants and remote employees. These developments will forever change the employment law office.
Technology will perhaps be one of the most significant changes in law office management going into 2021. Gartner predicts that lawbots will handle nearly a quarter of internal legal requests by 2023. Bots are revolutionizing client service across the U.S., while voice search is transforming Internet searches and research.
Artificial intelligence will increasingly perform more legal tasks such as research, document review, litigation and billing support, contract drafting, jury screening, and due diligence. Attorneys will also leverage emerging virtual and augmented reality tools, while digital, cybersecurity, and data privacy will continue to be a going concern.
Therefore, law firms will invest heavily in technology to increase efficiency, mitigate risks, sustain remote work, and reduce operating costs in 2021.
Paperless Law Office
You need to document and store client and internal data as part of your law office management practice. In 2021, more law offices will go paperless in a bid to streamline and remain cost-effective. Firms will require equipment, tools, and a paperless workflow system to keep updated records and data.
Increased Focus on Client Experience
Law firms must increase their client service and experience by emphasizing value-based services, tailored pricing models, and reduced bureaucracy to remain on the right side of client expectations. Law office management will adopt a client-centric approach to practicing law while seeking ways to add value and reduce costs.
Lawyers are also increasing client value by developing systematic workflows and adopting legal process management (LPM) to improve efficiency. Firms will again come up with alternative fee arrangements and value-added services.
A Broader Commitment to Equality, Inclusion, and Diversity
Diversity programs were previously a reserve of large law firms seeking to recruit new top candidates. However, 2021 will likely see more small- and mid-sized firms actively promoting diversity, equality, and inclusivity in their practices.
Social movements like #MeToo have created a heightened awareness and urgency of equality as an operational issue within all industries. Such dialogues will push law offices to reevaluate their hiring policies, implement equality training for employees, and preach inclusivity and diversity to prospective recruits and clients.
More law practices will move from offering everything to everyone to providing targeted services and high-value legal expertise in specific areas. Law firms that capitalize on this trend will aim to become the go-to specialists within their area.
Over to You
Managing a law firm or office does not have to be challenging, and it shouldn’t take a lot of your time away from practicing law. Stay open and Cultivate confidence, updated, and adaptable. Also, seek expert help whenever you need it.
2021 will usher in many meaningful changes as technology, marketing, innovation, equality, and innovation drive growth in legal practices. Change and adapting to the competitive landscape will drive law office management policies to create a sustainable and profitable operating environment.
Every law office and client base will require a different approach, but by following the basics above, you will set up your legal practice for success.
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