Law Firm Office Management for Small Law Firms - Strategist
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'Tis the season, as they say. The halls are decked, gay apparel is donned, and chestnuts are roasting. But for all the winter mirth and merriment, the season can also be a contentious one. Think, for example, of the annual fights over saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Kwanza," and the yearly fury that surrounds Starbucks holiday cups.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't bring some holiday cheer into your law office. You should! But here are some tips to help you do it without leaving anyone feeling excluded, offended, or even litigious.

What to Do If You Can't Find Your Client

Everybody loses clients, but what if you literally lose a client?

Losing track of a client can be more distressing than losing the client's business. Lawyers have a duty to protect the legal rights of even those clients they can't find. When they go missing, you may find yourself in an ethical minefield as you go about searching for them.

"If an attorney is having trouble contacting a client, the attorney should make all reasonable efforts to locate the client," according to the Washington State Bar newsletter. "If contacting the client is not possible, the attorney should keep records documenting all efforts to give notice, including efforts to contact the client by mail, phone, and email."

Few people get excited about meetings. Why? Because they're typically felt to be a waste of time. Here you are, listening to someone drone on and on about something that could have been conveyed more quickly in an email. There goes another hour that could be spent on work, wasted before an endless deck of PowerPoint slides. There's a reason people often sneak in actual work -- checking their emails, updating their calendars -- while meetings are going on.

But your meetings don't have to be awful. They can be productive, even rewarding, if you follow these three tips.

3 Things to Look for When Looking for Law Office Space

Location, location, location. If only it were so simple.

You could ask Siri or Google to find your new law office space. Unfortunately, your virtual assistant might lead you to an office supply or office furniture store or some other non-starter. Until artificial intelligence can read minds, you likely will need to keep some practical and legal things in mind when searching for the right office space.

You have an opening at your firm. You've listed the position, received dozens of applications, and focused in on a few qualified candidates.

Now, should you track them down on social media?

Answering phone calls, balancing the books, organizing your files -- these are the sort of chores that can keep you from doing your actual job: lawyering. Administrative tasks can easily eat up a significant portion of your time, taking up a third or more of many a lawyer's day.

Indeed, administrative duties are such a burden on small firms and solo practices that lawyers rank "spending too much time on administrative tasks and not enough practicing law" as the third most significant challenge they face, according to a survey released by Thomson Reuters this summer. Thankfully, there are ways to cut down on that burden, freeing you up to do more important (and profitable) work.

You've got your paralegal organizing case files. A contract attorney is drafting some pleadings. Your legal secretary is scheduling your meetings and going through your phone calls.

But, thanks to the miracle of telecommuting, none of them are on site. So how do you know if a remote worker is actually working? How do you manage someone you can't see?

We've all been there. Someone, a partner, co-counsel, support staff, whoever, makes commitments at the onset of a project, and they never follow through. This isn't just a problem with unreliable associates or partners with conflicting priorities; it's something lawyers and law firms of all sizes experience.

You'll probably never get everyone to do everything they've committed to, 100 percent of the time. But there are some steps you can take to improve follow through. Here's how.

3 Tips for Gathering Digital Evidence

Many lawyers are still unaware of some of the basic steps behind the procurement of digital evidence. In many ways, the basics are not too different from typical civil discovery -- it's just that the medium is different (and more impermanent).

Here are some tactical considerations you should keep in mind next time you want to get your hands on your opponent's evidence. And remember, discoverable evidence is a much bigger set than admissible evidence. Make it a part of your pretrial discovery strategy to go for the jugular.

5 Pieces of Technology That Could Help You Practice Better

You're probably a fine lawyer, but if you're like most others, you could be better. What you probably don't know is that the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer could be as little as the great lawyer's ability to better utilize technology in the market-place.

Let's take a look at some bare necessities.