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Clio gets to see us with our pants off.
With data on the billable and nonbillable activities of more than 60,000 lawyers, Clio sees what users of the practice management platform are doing on an everyday basis. And, as with last year’s report, conclusions from Clio’s second Legal Trends Report are striking.
Here is the meat:
Clio’s data shows us results, which are important, but not the whole story.
Over the years I’ve observed that when lawyers set huge goals — doubling their revenue, say — they often get overwhelmed and discouraged. They fall back to “yeah, but I’ve got work that needs to get out” and the quest ends.
You make the most progress when you set smaller, easier to understand and easier to achieve goals. The Legal Trends Report offers some specific places to start.
No matter how your numbers compare to Clio’s, “kaizen” is a word you need to know. It’s Japanese for “change for better,” but it has become a buzzword for “continuous improvement” — or the constant tweaking of your operation. Continuous improvement is the cornerstone of some of the world’s most successful companies, like Toyota (Google Toyota Kaizen), and you can apply it to your practice.
Here are small goals you can focus on to make a difference in your revenues, your efficiency — and even the quality of your personal life. Over the next six months, I challenge you to:
Reasonable, unfrightening goals? Doable? Sure. And that’s the idea.
Toyota achieved its success by producing some of the highest-quality products in the world. They did it 1 percent at a time. The company measured quality at every step of production, then set about improving the level of quality just a bit. One to 2 percent, maybe. And when that was finished, they started again, with another 1 percent. And another.
You can do the same. Measure where you’re at in each area of your practice: billable hours; utilization, realization and collection rates; hourly rates and fees; client communications — including phone calls and email handling; document generation; and marketing. Start with your one or two most visible, most important or most troubling areas. Set about to tweak them, not revolutionize them. Then do it again next month, and the following month … and the following month.
Make it a habit to hold up one specific piece of your practice regularly, and find a way to improve it just that 1 percent. You’ll be surprised at what changes you can accomplish and how you can recruit others in your office to the kaizen mindset.
Note: The 2017 Legal Trends Report uses data from three sources: 1) aggregated and anonymized data collected from more than 60,000 Clio users; 2) a survey of 2,915 legal professionals representing both Clio users and non-Clio users; 3) a survey of 2,002 consumers.
Related: “Clio’s First Trends Report Paints an Alarming Picture of Small Firm Practice” by Jared Correia.
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