Industry News Legal Management Updates

Optimizing Your Firm for Accountable Productivity

Despite all the improvements that IT advancements have brought, productivity still remains an issue. According to Thomson Reuters 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market, productivity has continued to decline in law firms as billable hours per month have decreased by 13 hours on average.
Isaac Kohen

This translates to roughly $74,000 that law firms are losing each year in revenue. This is a problem because in the same report, Thomson Reuters indicates that major businesses are continuing the trend of cutting their spending on outside legal teams.

Imagine how much more time your firm could dedicate to client projects if constant administration was not taking up time — especially since many administrative tasks can be automated, which means more billable hours. While it is easy to jump to tech upgrades as the go-to solution that law firms need, tech alone does not improve much if the underlying core processes are not optimized for efficiency. By addressing areas of opportunity in both tech and process, your law firm will reap great gains in productivity.


Before technology is implemented, it is good practice to ensure your processes are optimized for productivity. Provided below are a few tips to make that happen.

Measuring for Outcomes

Law firms require not just a specific quantifiable output of work, but a high caliber of work that results in a positive outcome, i.e, satisfied clients. To clarify, an output is a quantifiable measure, something you can count without a quality check. However, output alone does not demonstrate how an activity contributes to boosting business value or coming closer to strategic goals. Tracking outcomes is the tracking of impact that activities have on your organization over time.

Design Processes for Added Value

The main reason you want to change or optimize a process is so that the process adds even more value for your client’s and your bottom line. Ensure that whatever process you are examining you are eliminating nonvalue adding activities and enhancing the activities that make your organization better at fulfilling its mission.

Optimize First, Then Automate

One of the problems today with many managers is that they rush to automate everything in their organization because of advances in technology. This is jumping ahead — managers should be ensuring their process can be handled by a program without the need for a human quality check each time the process happens. What often happens when managers do not optimize their processes before automating are data errors and — at worst — total process failure.

Metrics and Feedback

Throughout most of your processes you should have a mechanism for feedback and metric tracking. If these are not in place, you will have no way of measuring efficiency and productivity in your organization at the most basic level — the process level.


Technology and software are the go-to solutions now for companies seeking to improve their productivity. You can find numerous articles online about how switching to the cloud will instantly improve everything. However, productivity means more than having office management software. You’ll also need a means of merging productivity efforts with some security efforts that keep client data secure.

Productivity Analysis

Thankfully, there now is technology that allows you do productivity analysis on any device in your network. Productivity analysis allows you to decide what applications are considered productive to your type of work. From there, you can track those applications and the time being spent on them. With this data, you’ll be able to construct productivity profiles of each employee.

Cloud Business Management

Google Drive or Dropbox are two of the most popular cloud services; however, they are no replacement for a full business suite. Running your law firm requires some way to manage case files with the utmost security. The power of these systems is not only in their accessibility but also the ability to audit access logs and control file security. And having everything you need in one place really helps to reduce administrative and nonbillable tasks. Security should be your principal consideration with any cloud management system. Without good security, you cannot protect your clients from a data breach. For law firms, one data breach can mean the end of the company.

Passive Data Collection

Data is gold and is the underlying basis for any productivity gains you may experience. The ability to see every interaction with your cloud-based system and to track time spent on specific applications you have marked as “productive” both add to what defines productivity in your firm. With data in hand, you’ll be able to pass audits, create risk profiles, conduct user behavioral analysis and make data-driven decisions.

The key thing here is that any data collection should be automated and passive. It should not disrupt processes and you should not have to manually turn it on and off. By allowing passive data collection to happen, you have a system monitoring what happens in the background at all times. If there is a security breach, an IT forensics team will have what they need to help you effectively with all the data collected.

Productivity is possible now in the 21st century; however, law firms need to be smart about how they approach it. Your goal is to reduce nonbillable hours so you can spend more time doing the tasks that make your firm successful.