AN OVERVIEW OF LAW OFFICE MANAGEMENT
A law firm is basically a legal practitioner's place of work. Once called to the bar and enrolled at Supreme Court of Nigeria, a solicitor may set up a firm. He need NOT have undergone pupillage, this must be done in obedience to the Rule that client interview be conducted in Law Office to ensure private practice
To establish the Law Office; he would require knowledge, skill and (of course) finance (from) personal, loan, overdraft, friends and family). To succeed in practice, he would require; diligence, honesty, integrity, hard work, determination and commitment
Clients have become more sophisticated, markets more competitive and legal issues intricate... after choosing management structure, there is the need to tinker how it should be managed/functions so as to adapt to evolving trends, keep up with competition and achieving vision and mission of firm.
This is tactically or operationally forging out strategies to meet goals of the firm taking into account the environment (i.e. social, political and economic) and available finances, facilities, staff, clients. Records should be kept.
Strategically monitor assigned duties and ensure they are efficiently carried out in accordance with the mission and vision of the firm.
Monitoring each segment of the law firm to ensure conformity with goals of the firm
· TIME MANAGEMENT
One of the most important things is to make the best use of time, have a task list which serves as a guide to perform the activities throughout the day. There should be time frames set to respond to the emails, without thinking of multitasking as it is not considered a good approach, especially when there is a lot on the plate to manage.
· CLIENT MANAGEMENT
Onboard only those clients who have realistic expectations from you
Set Client Data Management Policies: Set policies in order to make the clients adhere to your standards for security.
Plan Meetings Scheduling: Planning in advance about the meetings help in saving both the time and efforts.
(b) Addressing Non-Paying Clients:
Have a retainer in place to get you paid in case the clients avoid timely payments.
Have a late payment policy set for making the clients pay on time.
It is essential to organize all the items that is needed for your work. This can include anything from file cabinets to file folders, scanner, notepads, and so on. It is also recommended to set up an incoming center for mail and follow the directions carefully after taking the notes that are essential to be implemented in any system.
· LEVERAGE THE TECHNOLOGY USE
Almost every law firm in the present times incorporates the use of technology in one way or the other. This includes replacing the paper billing methods with the billing software to using software for managing the documents and case files, scheduling appointments, sharing files, and more. This is basically the use of computer and telecommunications in communicating and transmitting document, data and other information. I.T. has made radical changes in various walks of life including Legal Practice. Creation, transmission and storage is in real time with easier retrieval mores with the introduction of efficient search engines like google, yahoo, etc. Various firms, companies, corporations and even government agencies/parastatals now incorporate IT. e.g. CAC (cac.gov.ng), FIRS (firs.gov.ng), UNILAG
· CREATE OFFICE MANAGEMENT POLICIES
This is one of the best ways to manage your office, employees, and work processes. Set policies that define how you want your work to be managed, what ethics you want to be followed in your office, along with the efforts and results you expect from the marketing, billing, social media, and other teams.
Policies are to be set for dealing with the clients, with appropriate actions in place in case someone breaks any of the policies, explains a provider of law office management services.
· CONDUCT LEGAL RESEARCH
It is imperative to conduct the legal research to lay the foundation of a strong appeal preparation against the opposing party in a court of law. However, the research should not waste most of your time, which you need for dealing with the sensitive issues of the case.
· SECURITY MANAGEMENT
The cloud storage options are probably the best ones when it comes to security management. However, it is imperative that you make sure that the cloud platform you chose is safe under all circumstances and that the information you share is not accessible to anyone without your consent.
Apart from this, it is recommended to check the cloud platform’s disaster recovery options, along with the measures for physical security like keycard access.
· ORGANIZE PRODUCTIVE TEAM MEETINGS
It is important to have regular team meetings in order to boost work productivity amongst the team members by addressing the concerns which they might have inefficiently dealing with the various work processes.
The frequency of meetings will depend on your team size, the work complexity, and how much difficulties your team faces on a regular basis. If you want your team to perform well, you need to address their concerns to the earliest, and having regular meetings is the only solution to it.
· UNPRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE AVOIDED
There are a lot of unproductive activities that slow down the growth of a law firm, and the attorneys need to avoid them in the first place itself.
This includes not responding to the client requests on time, saying ‘yes’ to the clients before estimating the amount of time to be spent for their case, handling the most important tasks at the day’s end, not planning in advance, reacting without assessing, and more
Some advantages of effective office management are reduces workload, cuts cost, increase capacity, improved efficiency and delivery, saves time, Faster retrieval of information and more precise results therefore improving legal research, documents in IT Format can easily be edited, bridged distance and time, more seamlessness in communication.
It has the disadvantage of Redundancy of humans leading to job loss, the global contact created by the internet may be unfair competition to lawyers in emerging economies, malware and viruses privacy global contact created by the internet may be unfair competition to lawyers in emerging economies, malware and viruses, privacy. concerns such as Spying, wiretapping, interception of signals, etc.
CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
· Unstable Network connectivity may hinder communication. A reputable and stable network provider should be used.
· Irregular power supply and the resultant cost of running generating sets. Although laptops can be used.
· Cost of Acquiring ICT facilities: loan or hire can be used.
· Cyber Crime/IT-Theft,
· Hacking: Laws have been enacted in this regard. Anti phishings and Ad blockers. can be used.
· File Corruption and virus may result in loss of information. Malware and Viruses. Anti-viruses should be used... regular backups too.
· Computer Illiteracy among many Lawyers: wider education.
· Super-fast evolution of technology and keeping up A may be cost intensive in terms of acquisition and training of staff.
Getting down to the crux of the matter, it is imperative in the present challenging scenario that as a lawyer, you incorporate the use of the technology in order to streamline your work processes. Also, laying down policies which not only improve the work productivity of your employees, but aid in office and client management in an overall way is recommended to stay ahead in the legal world.
1. Rule 22 of Rules Of Professional Conduct, 2007.
2. Adewunmi v Plastex (Nig) Ltd (1986) NWLR (Pt. 32)767.
WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080