The first quarter is important because it sets the pace and tone for the year. This quarter is the foundation from which the rest of 2017 will be built. Do not rest on your laurels thinking you have plenty of time left to get it right this year. If you do, you will find yourself scrambling in the fall and dismayed by the end of the year.
Law Firm To-Do List For Q1
- Review performance goals and see where you are. What did you learn from your 2016 successes that you can repeat and improve upon in 2017? If you fell short, make a plan to regain lost ground. First ask why: were your goals unrealistic, or did you experience an unanticipated setback? Identify specific activities employees can do to help achieve your objectives. A comprehensive analysis of your strategic plan for 2016 uncovers weaknesses – find them, fix them, and adjust your strategy.
- Analyze financials so you can scale up or scale back as needed. Look at last year’s overall and quarter-by-quarter sales revenue, profit margins, overhead costs, and monthly profits or losses. Q1 will be the easiest quarter in which to make a profit because your 2017 goals are new, the year is new, and energy is high. If you aren’t profitable now, the rest of your year may suffer.
- Check on the mindset of your staff. Commend your team members for their good work and for meeting goals last year. Come up with defined ideas to alter the course for goals not currently being met. Look at the performance records of your staff overall to see if your beliefs about their abilities match actual tangible results. Note that people will screw up in Q1 because the goals, the software, and/or the processes may be new. If issues persist, choices will have to be made down the line.
- Determine your next steps for the year. Set quarterly goals for the remaining quarters of 2017. Find low hanging fruit – goals that are easiest to check off the list and convert them early in the year. Completing the simpler tasks will build confidence and establish momentum.
Two Law Firm Goals For 2017
Using paper is inefficient, time-consuming, and expensive. Moving to a system utilizing less paper saves the firm money by cutting overhead costs on supplies, storage, labor, rental space, equipment, and more. It’s not just all about the money though – improvements in efficiency will give you and your staff valuable time to pursue other opportunities.
Questions To Ask Before Going Paperless:
- What equipment do I have and what will I need to purchase or rent?
- What software do I have and what do I need for digital storage?
- What processes does my law firm currently use for paper and can I make them work for paperless?
- How do we file our paper and can we use the same system for paperless files?
- What will we scan? Do we need to capture old, closed files?
- What will we shred and what will we store?
- What is my overall budget for this project?
- How will I backup my data?
Why go paperless in 2017? So you can work from anywhere, anytime, on any device. So you can lower your overhead without making a painful change like firing staff or downsizing space. So you can make your clients happier because they don’t have to pay for the costs associated with your antiquated paper.
Market Your Law Practice In At Least One New Way
Law firms should use social media to reach out to their local communities, creating brand awareness and making a legitimately positive impact on causes members of their communities care about. One way we do this is via social media charity campaigns.
We work with our law firms to pick a worthy cause and establish upfront the maximum amount the firm is willing to donate. We create various social media posts indicating the law firm will donate a certain amount of money for each social engagement the posts get (likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc.), and then we set a time limit.
We advise our law firms to choose a cause at least someone at the firm truly cares about so that the process is genuine. While there is a virtually unlimited number of worthy national and international causes, going local can yield a larger potential impact for both the law firm and the charity. Investing in your local community is relevant to potential clients, local media, and your professional colleagues.
Why invest more time in social media in 2017? More and more prospects and peers research your law firm on social media before giving you a call, so having your profiles filled with positive, community-focused information can really shed a positive light on your brand.
Start The New Year Right
As lawyers, we take the time to invest in and care for our clients; but we do not routinely treat the business side of our own law firms as a priority. Take the time in the first quarter of 2017 to look at where you’ve been, where you want to go, and come up with at least a few steps you can take to get there. Then check in on your goals each quarter to see how you’re faring toward reaching where you want your law firm to go.