With all the focus on your online and offline marketing strategies, case management, and overseeing your staff, one thing that often falls by the wayside is overhead. Introductory discounts to things like research services and Internet access have expired, hiking your monthly rates. The costs of consumables, such as printer cartridges for your six-year-old laser printer have skyrocketed due to planned obsolescence. Your budget is bleeding from a thousand paper cuts.
Now is the time to cut back, but where do you start? Here is a list of three areas that could cut your overhead, from managing your staff to adopting new technology.
1. Renegotiate Everything
We'd bet that when you signed up for your legal research plan, and the forms, and the practice guides, that you were offered some soft of "new customer" or "new attorney" bundled discount. If that deal has expired, or is about to, now is the time to call back, renegotiate another deal, or flirt with your provider's competitors.
Legal research is just one common example. How about your Internet, landline and cell phone services, and other monthly obligations? How about your office lease?
2. Staff Management
Maybe you added a few extra lawyers or paralegals during the recent recession, hoping to capitalize on home loan refinancing, foreclosure defense, or bankruptcies. Ask yourself now whether you still need everyone on your team. And if someone quits, don't rush to fill the spot -- see how well your firm runs with one less member.
If cutting staff isn't an option, consider other ideas, such as hiring part-time employees, hiring contract attorneys, or offering less pay, but with telecommuting privileges. Don't skimp on the vital staff members, however. Remember how hard it was to find that perfect paralegal?
3. Inspect the Tech
Old printers can be a pain. So can slow, crashing computers. Nothing kills productivity and wastes time, like tech issues. Remember the last time your computer crashed, deleting three hours' worth of brief-writing? Add that lost time up for all of your staff, and all of the crashes, and ask whether it might be worth it to buy a few new budget-friendly computers and a printer that doesn't jam repeatedly.
Other tech options include going paperless, upgrading to a cloud-based law practice management platform (which helps with the telecommuting), or switching your paid phone service to free Google Voice.
Has your firm recently made drastic cuts to your monthly overhead? We'd love to hear additional ideas. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
- How to Fire an Associate Attorney Without Getting Sued (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- Five Mistakes to Avoid When Posting on Your Law Firm Blog (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- Should You Charge for Consultations? (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)