With remote teams and digital collaboration, consistency is even more important to your business’ success. It’s just not for your clients’, but for your team’s and for your firm’s efficiency too.
As a law firm, we do a lot of case assembly, of course. The case assembly process needs an assembly line.
You know I’m all about thinking outside of the box, and we all know that as a profession, law is a little bit behind the times. We’re not the most tech-savvy people, we are not the most up to date on things; we tend to cling to the past. After all, we’re taught to use precedent!
We cling to precedent in every way, including law firm SOP. It can be hard sometimes to think outside the box, outside “how things are done.” The assembly line case prep is really different from how most law firms do things.
How we’ve been raised and taught to do it is you assign a case to a paralegal or a legal assistant and they do their portion from beginning to end. You do your portion as a lawyer, they do their portion as the paralegal, and then that’s how cases get done.
However, that is also how cases get stuck, how cases get delayed. A case moves fast or slow depending on the paralegal it’s assigned to. This isn’t fair to clients and gives your firm inconsistent results.
What you want is for all clients to have a guaranteed and very predictable experience with your firm.
Run your firm like Starbucks
No matter where you go in the world, Starbucks is a familiar experience: you get the same coffee menu, you order at the same place, in the same terms, and you pick up at the same spot.
You want your firm to be the same way. You want clients to have a consistent experience from beginning to end, in both their communications and their results from your team.
Every single thing that you do at your firm can be streamlined in this way.
How do you do that? The main way is to have a case assembly line. Don’t simply assign one person to a case from start to finish. Instead, every single person on your team is responsible for their portion of the case process.
Also, you’ll use a calendar to hold everyone accountable. Let me walk you through the way that it works in my firm.
Assembly line case prep
The signup appointment: This is either with me or with a senior paralegal. (In the time of COVID-19, your appointments can also be done by video, of course).
- we handle the signing of the contract
- we get the payment (You can read about this in the “Asking for the sale” blogs)
- we issue the receipt
- we start working on the case right then with the questionnaires for the forms and the declaration
- we set an appointment for the client to come back for signatures and any documents that may be missing
Questionnaires for the forms
To streamline the completion of all the necessary forms, we created questionnaires. We complete it with the client in-office. We don’t send clients home with the questionnaires. That’s extremely inefficient.
You want to make sure you’re not sending them home–complete the questionnaires right when they sign the contract. This tightens the process and speeds things up.
Even the declaration gets done on that initial visit. If you have declarations that need to get done for different case types, create a questionnaire for each. Do it with the client.
Instead of having to remember every single legal element that you need to prove through this declaration each and every time, template it out with questions Ensure these questions are detailed and can elicit information.
Every single person is going to have completely different answers despite the fact that you’re asking them the same question.
It feels somewhat unorthodox, but in a way, it’s very logical. So, in that sign up appointment, that’s what we do. We do the contract, the questionnaire for the forms, and the questionnaire for the declaration.
The end of the appointment
At the end of that appointment, we set the client one week to come back to sign documents, and to bring in any documents still may still be missing if they didn’t bring all the supporting documents with them.
Then from there, the case goes to my virtual assistant.
- She writes a declaration based on the notes
- She updates my templated legal arguments
- She completes the forms
Then our in-office legal assistant
- Is assigned to the case
- Assembles the entire packet
- Catalogs all the documents that the client has brought in
- Creates the table of contents
- Prints out the legal argument, declaration, and any other supporting documents
Then that gets presented to me for my review
- I go through everything, flagging anything that needs to be fixed or changed
It goes back to the legal assistant to make those changes
- Meets with the client and goes over everything one last time
- Gets it to me for a final review
We have one week to put this together. So, if the virtual assistant doesn’t get it on time, the legal assistant is going to be on her, “Hey, where’s the stuff that I need?”
And if the virtual assistant has done it but the legal assistant hasn’t, well the client’s coming in regardless. It has to get done. This is a way to ensure that things move through your office very, very quickly, and it ensures that clients get to see that you’re working on the case.
You earn your fee pretty much right away because the majority of the case is going to be done within one week.
I challenge you to try this. I’m all for streamlining and automation. I talk about it in Six-Figure Solo. I’m always tweaking and changing things and learning things, and I’ve been working on a dynamic thing this year.
If you can believe it, I have even more knowledge to share on this topic! If you’d like to learn more about how to run your firm, sign up for my Six Figure Solo program! Six Figure Solo now comes in three tiers – Executive, Solopreneur, and CEO. Sign up here!