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3 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Law Firm’s Policies (And How You Should Do So)

Running a successful law office requires more than knowledgeable attorneys. It requires that both support staff and attorneys operate with efficiency, consistency and professionalism. And your firm’s process manual is the most important foundation of these principles. 

Ryan B. Bormaster

If there’s one thing many attorneys seem loathe to admit, it’s that their law office is, at the foundational level, not especially different from any other business. Just as passion and talent alone aren’t enough to carry a start-up to success, legal expertise is not enough to run and manage a successful firm. Firms and legal departments also require a certain degree of business acumen and a host of support staff.

Ensuring these staff work together with your attorneys requires a set of established policies and procedures — and drafting them will likely fall to legal managers. But with these in place, your organization will operate like a well-oiled machine.

So what should these policies cover? The short answer is everything. This includes but is not limited to: 

  • Office staff training and onboarding
  • Attorney hiring and onboarding
  • Client relations, including communication channels and communication frequency
  • Data storage and management
  • IT policies and infrastructure
  • Regulatory compliance processes
  • Disaster relief and business continuity

In addition to covering every facet of managing your law office, these policies must be regularly revisited and updated. I’m not just talking about an annual or quarterly review, either — though I would advise both. I’m talking about certain changes to the legal market that demand adaptation.

We’re going to discuss the three major signs that it’s time to update your law firm’s policies. 


In the technology industry, regulators and legal professionals have a reputation for being slow to adapt to change. Legislation frequently lags behind new technology as lawmakers puzzle out the best way to address its unique legal challenges. Yet change inevitably comes, and with far greater frequency than you might expect.

For instance, in January 2020, several changes to the Texas data breach statute came into effect. As reported by The National Law Review, these changes introduced a number of new requirements to the breach response process, including a requirement that law firms notify the Texas attorney general of a known breach. Last year also saw several proposed changes to pretrial practice in Texas

If there is a major change in legislation, your policies must immediately be updated to reflect that. The good news is that you can take a light touch here. Think about the sections of your law firm’s manual that are likeliest to be impacted by legislative changes — and modify those exclusively. 


I’ve seen plenty of law firms that still exclusively use paper filing systems and keep in touch with clients entirely via email. This, in my eyes, is a potential problem. Technology is changing the legal industry just like any other, and the most successful law firms understand how to tap into that. Plus, chances are with COVID-19, your firm or department has been forced to embrace new forms of technology to enable employees to work from home. That is a signal to revisit your policies, too.

Ensuring these staff work together with your attorneys requires a set of established policies and procedures — and drafting them will likely fall to legal managers. But with these in place, your organization will operate like a well-oiled machine.

Endpoint management platforms that enable more widespread, secure use of mobile technology. File storage, management and editing platforms that allow attorneys to carry iPads instead of stacks of documents. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms that allow law firms to respond more efficiently and effectively to clients than ever before. These are just a few examples of new technology that’s changing the face of law — technology your firm should be prepared to use. To that end, I’d advise that you keep an open mind and an ear to the ground about new and emerging technology in the legal sector. Your policies around technology should be both general and flexible enough that they can be easily adapted and adjusted to new developments without putting any sensitive legal data at risk. 


Has your firm branched out into a new specialty? Have you acquired a competing firm or brought a vendor in house to better serve your needs? Changes like this require quite possibly the most extensive updates to your policies.

The best way to address this one is via a brainstorming session. Sit down with all the major stakeholders involved in the structural change. Brainstorm what new policies and processes may be required and update them accordingly. 


A successful law firm requires more than legal knowledge alone. It requires a law office that runs smoothly, guided by established yet flexible policies and processes. Keep that in mind, and you should be just fine.