Year-end planning for lawyers: Focus on your financial data

December 22, 2014 | Peggy Gruenke | Law Practice Management Consultant

Year-end planning: Focus on current clients

So what can you focus on in December to help evaluate your 2014 numbers and plan for a stronger 2015?

  1. Run the accounts receivable report and spend time on collections.

Looking at this past due invoice report, there may be another “oh crap” moment but also a sense of hope. This money, if collected, could be in your next paycheck before year-end and the holiday spending season.

December can be a tough month to do collections and you may be kicking yourself for not having been doing this all year or at least starting earlier. In December, clients are focused on the holidays and upcoming expenses related to gifts and parties. But it is also the time of year when companies give out bonuses. So your client may have an additional source of revenue in December to pay your invoice. Provide a small incentive and consider offering a discount if paid before year-end. If you represent businesses, they are usually looking to pay all their expenses before year-end, so do them a favor and send their bills frequently during December.

Tip: On active cases, bill every two weeks in December but include a letter explaining why the change in your billing process. You are a small business owner. They should understand and respect the fact that you are being proactive and working on your business’ year-end.

Here is an article that contains many more tips about year-end collections. (I can give you a link to an article I wrote about year end collections)

  1. Review what is in your Trust account.

This is a great time of year to make sure you have been diligent about moving money from your trust account to operating account as fees were earned. It also great time to make sure all of your client ledgers are in balance.

Run your Work in Progress (WIP) report and see if there is any time or expenses sitting out there that you can invoice and pay yourself, transferring Trust funds to operating before year-end.

If you have money in client ledgers, run their individual client ledger report and send them a copy so they have a current record of all the transactions during 2014. This is also a great opportunity to stay in touch with your current clients and show them you are on top of things. Continue reading

Focus on managing processes, not managing time

October, 2014 By: Peggy Gruenke | Law Firm Practice Management Specialist | Gold Level Clio Certified

Recently, I participated in an interview with the folks from The Form Tool on “How can the Legal Industry Improve Efficiency?” The discussion took me down the path of looking closer at the concept of time management verse productivity.

I think there has been a shift away from the phrase “time management” to a focus on productivity and processes. If you look at time as something to be managed, it can become a productivity constraint. You are always looking for the next new way to file and label things to help you get it all done. The truth is you can’t get it all done. You are a limited resource. There will always be more to do, more tasks to add to your list. And as a lawyer, building a business, you hope that the tasks never run out because that would be a bad sign.

Get more strategic and intentional

Being able to recognize you can’t get it all done can be very empowering because it demands you become more strategic and intentional about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. The focus shifts from managing your time towards examining the “why” and “how” things will get done.

  • Why are you doing the task: is it something only you can do and will it add value?
  • How will you do it: do you have an efficient process in place?

This shift forces you to look at your to-do-list with the intention of prioritizing and taking action. Out of the desire to get more done, your actions will lead to developing and creating efficient processes.

As you identify activities that have the highest value and are the best use of your time and then build good processes, you will be more productive not because you managed your time better, but because you chose better and acted with purpose.

Your ability, everyday, to determine and act upon your most important tasks and get them done quickly, because you have have good processes in place, will have more of an impact on your productivity and success than trying to manage your time.

Peggy Gruenke | Clio Certified Consultant | Law Practice Management