Despite all of the diet and exercise fads, there’s really only one way to lose weight and stay healthy: eat less food than you burn. In other words, exercise regularly and eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. To have a successful law firm, there is a similar formula: take in [...]
Despite all of the diet and exercise fads, there’s really only one way to lose weight and stay healthy: eat less food than you burn. In other words, exercise regularly and eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. To have a successful law firm, there is a similar formula: take in more money than you spend.
I was recently cleaning out old files and came across invoices from early technology purchases. When you can now buy a color laser printer for around $100, it’s hard to remember that the first laser printers cost around $4000. The good news, in terms of saving on office equipment, is that the cost of technology has dropped dramatically over the years while the functions and speeds have improved.
Effective use of technology can improve your ability to get work done as well as assist you in monitoring your out of pocket costs. While purchasing software and hardware will require spending money, careful decisions can help you increase revenue, lessen the need to add personnel and allow you to service more clients while maintaining high quality.
Investing in scanners, particularly inexpensive desktop units such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap series, can make it easy for staff and attorneys to scan incoming mail, receipts, bank deposits and other papers directly into the firm’s network. Not only will this make it easier to share and locate important information but it will cut down on the firm’s need for both short and long term storage.
Consider replacing tape-based dictation systems with digital dictation and voice recognition. Manufacturers are no longer making tapes so you should plan on replacing these units in the near future. The digital dictation systems combine portable, handheld units that can include Bluetooth connectivity when you want to dictate notes or documents as you drive as well as internal storage so you can email a file back to your office from home or on the road. The digital dictation software includes tools to streamline workflow within the office, allowing dictation to be routed to the attorney’s primary transcriber or the next available. Many of these products can be linked to Dragon Naturally Speaking, the gold standard for voice recognition. When combined together, a dictated file can be translated by Dragon to produce documents or emails. This solution enables attorneys in any size firm to get their work done more efficiently and cost effectively.
Phone-based versions of Dragon as well as “integrated phone systems” that include dictation functions along with pay-as-you-go transcription services can also be used in combination with digital dictation, depending on your specific needs.
When looking to save or cut expenses, the best advice I can give is to monitor your expenses. Very few firms take advantage of the reports available in their billing and accounting systems that will help them see what and how they are expending their funds. Review the reports and information available in your billing and accounting programs such as previous year comparisons or breakdowns by type of expense to create a set of monthly reports to help you measure your firm’s financial health.
Don’t overlook some basic information in your quest. Over the years, I have seen too many partners over-delegate bill paying and banking functions to staff. Strive to create a system of checks and balances in your firm. Don’t have the same person responsible for both bill paying and bank reconciliation. If you are a solo with only one staff person, consider having your outside accountant do the bank and trust reconciliation as a double check. At a minimum, you should make a point to review your firm’s bank and credit card statements each month to know where your money is going.
In future posts, we’ll look at ways to increase revenue and take additional steps to streamline your work so you can better balance your work and personal lives.