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Reasons to Undertake a Law Firm Audit

Jun 12, 2014 | by Stacey Burke | Law Firm Audit
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One of the components of my project-based work that I really enjoy is performing business audits for law firms. Some lawyers have called me thinking this means I am like a forensic accountant and will come in and scope out their books and give tax advice. Instead, what I mean by audit in this context is ripping off the Band-Aids, opening the curtains, and exposing everything that goes on in your law firm to a neutral third party for evaluation.

As an almost 13-year lawyer, I intuitively understand the legal industry’s competitive landscape, the practice of law, and what a law firm needs to measure to be profitable. Over a decade of direct experience both locally in Houston, Texas, and nationally in multidistrict litigation, has provided me with exposure to lawyers across a variety of practice areas, many of whom I have now consulted for. I have handled law firm audits for personal injury firms, probate firms, bankruptcy firms, pharmaceutical mass tort litigation firms, and more.

The corporate culture of any entity evolves over time. If not evaluated at least every few years, the substance of your law firm’s brand may have substantially changed without the partners even realizing it.  By asking your staff what makes your entity different from others in your practice areas, you will get amazing talking points and industry differentiators that spell out precisely who you are and why you rock.

Why Can’t I Do This Myself?

An internal employee cannot achieve the level of trust that an outsider can. While this might sound counterintuitive, employees are reluctant to share their real feelings about their bosses, their coworkers, the firm’s technology, and more with a fellow employee for a variety of reasons, including fear of negative consequences.

Most law firms do not measure staff performance with quantifiable metrics. Engaging employees in developing these metrics that will be used to measure their own success makes the process seem less arbitrary. This will also help to prevent office gossip concerning playing favorites during bonus time. Find out what employees do best and shift responsibilities around so your business can function optimally.

Five Reasons to Hire a Consultant to Perform a Law Firm Audit

  1. A fresh set of eyes – allowing an independent expert in legal marketing and running a law firm as a business to give a fresh, unbiased look at your company will reveal areas with room for improvement.
  2. Confidentiality – not only can staff speak confidentially with a neutral third party, a consultant can and often will sign a formal Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA). I feel I am relatable to employees in all positions within a law firm because I began working in the legal industry when I was a college student, having held positions ranging from legal assistant to law clerk to partner. I understand how long certain tasks take and the personalities that can come along with the legal industry.
  3. Using consistency to create a Zen work environment – if your law firm has outdated technology, systems, procedures, and processes, it is time for a comprehensive review and potentially a technology overhaul. At the very least, all of your computers should use the same versions of software and maintain the same level of protection, and your firm should have one master calendar showing where everyone is at all times.
  4. Making time and making that time count – your office manager, law firm administrator, wife, girlfriend, therapist or other potential suspect will likely have neither the time nor the specific expertise necessary to audit your practice efficiently and/or effectively. The recommendations that come after an audit in the report are the most valuable items to add to your corporate To-Do list for the coming months.
  5. Industry measuring stick – as someone who sees “behind the curtain” at many law firms, I can tell you that being able to measure a law firm against other law firms similar in size and/or makeup is invaluable.  How client files are kept, how answering services or call centers are utilized, what type of quality control mechanisms are in place – each firm, especially the smaller ones, handles important items like these differently.

Contact Stacey

I would enjoy the privilege of auditing your law firm, or even just one of your practice groups. I will spend as many days on site at your office as are required to appropriately evaluate your business. Call me at 713-714-8446 or email me at info@staceyeburke.com so we can get started. 

Sidebar stacey e burke About Stacey Burke

Stacey E. Burke is both an experienced trial lawyer and law firm business consultant. She works with lawyers and law firms around the world to improve their business development, marketing, and infrastructures.


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