Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Small Firm IT Goofs

Small firms are nimble and small firms are exciting, but small firms can rarely compartmentalize functions like larger firms do.

One function that is often underserved is that of Information Technology, sometimes known as IT or simply computers.

Technology continues to grow in importance to firms of every size.  Most office workers use a computer as their primary way to interface with customers and their work product.

Many small firms don’t have a staff person – much less a department – to set up and manage their technology.  When an aspect of a firm’s technology fails, the ripples can be huge.

Here is a list of 10 Small Firm IT Goofs and how to address them:

  1. Not Backing Up.  It used to be that tape backups would be made and someone would have to rotate them out on a daily basis.  Now, online backup services from Iron Mountain, Mozy, Carbonite and others provide automatic, off-site backups.  In the event of a computer loss or failure, these services can quickly restore the contents of your data.  There really is no reason not to backup anymore.
  2. Putting Servers On-Site.  There are very few reasons why people need a server on-site anymore.  The availability of “cloud” or software-as-a-service (SAAS) products ensures that there is no longer the need for on-site servers except in rare occasions.  Furthermore, the cost of these services has continued to drop so that the finances are very attractive.
  3. Hosting Your Own Email.  It used to be that hosting your own email server was actually cost-effective.  With various email hosting companies providing mailboxes for typically under $20 per month, it makes sense – financially or technically – for a typical small firm to host their own email.
  4. Not Encrypting Your Data.  Data encryption is now secure and affordable.  It also provides you and your clients with an extra level of assurance that in the case that a computer or disk is lost or misplaced that the information will remain confidential.
  5. Sharing Files Via Email. As soon as you start doing this, you will end up having file version error.  There are numerous file sharing tools that let multiple people work on the same file and the software keeps track of the latest version.  These tools include Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint and others.
  6. Buying a Phone System.  Phones that use the Internet are now the only way to go.  They provide you with features that traditional phone systems don’t offer, they can go where you go, they’re affordable.  There’s simply no reason to NOT go with a VoIP (voice over IP) phone system.
  7. Having No Plan for Computer Outages.  Your computers will eventually not work.  Either they’ll stop working for a myriad of reasons or they’ll become lost or stolen.  As computers are critical to the ongoing functioning of businesses nowadays, having the ability to be back up and running within 24-48 hours is critical.  Businesses today need to have availability to spare computers, either on-site or through a provider.  In addition, the computer replacement needs to be able to have all of its data – typically emails and files – restored quickly and reliably.
  8. No Eye to the Future.  One of the aspects of computer technology is that it is constantly changing.  However, knowing what will work for your firm and what should be avoided is difficult to know, even for technology experts.  However you manage your technology, be sure to have a trusted advisor that can help you make sound technology decisions.
  9. Hanging on to Obsolete Technology.  Supporting obsolete technology can be expensive.  Systems that consist of common technologies typically interoperate better and experience less conflicts.  So, while keeping equipment or software that’s already paid for may sound attractive, it makes good business sense to retire obsolete technologies.
  10. Trying To Do It Yourself.  Much as the adage goes “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client,” unless one is skilled in technology and can keep those skills current, find a trusted resource that can at least advise you on how to take advantage of current and emerging technologies.

Look over these items and see which ones resonate for you.  Then take the needed steps to ensure that your technology infrastructure serves you well.

Mark Mathias is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of NexFirm.  He has more than 30 years of experience with large and small company technology matters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Securing Your WiFi

With security breaches in the news almost once a week, business owners are beginning to realize that data security isn’t a tangential issue to business operations.  It’s a key concern, for you and your clients.  This is especially so for attorneys.

As WiFi technology becomes cheaper, more convenient, and easier to use, it becomes more and more ubiquitous, especially in high-density cities.  Just by sitting in a coffee shop in Midtown, you usually have access to more than a handful of networks.

One of the reasons why WiFi equipment is so widely used is that it’s easy for people to install. Out of the box it's typically set for being completely open and being willing to "talk" to just about every device that presents itself.

While that's good for ensuring that these devices work quickly, they are completely devoid of any security to protect you and your data.

Having an open WiFi network means that anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood can see and access not only your Internet connection, but also the other devices on your network, such as computers, printers, shared disks, etc.

The good news is that all equipment that provides WiFi service has built-in security capabilities that can help protect you.

The two primary ways to secure your WiFi connection are:

·         Password protect or hide your hotspot (figuratively speaking)
·         Encrypt your data

Every WiFi hotspot has a name, called an SSID (service set ID). A WiFi hotspot can choose to broadcast its SSID or not.  If the SSID is broadcast, everyone within range can detect that a WiFi hotspot by that name is available.  If the SSID is not broadcast, people who know it's there and know its name can still access it by telling their device to connect to a hotspot with that name.

Once a WiFi hotspot has a name, the administrator (usually you) can determine whether or not there's a password that's required access.  If not, the hotspot is considered "open."

But password protection doesn't guarantee security.  Without encryption, all of the data that's transmitted between the hotspot and the computer device is visible to people who know how to monitor this information.  These items can be emails, transactions, word processing documents, etc.

There are two major types of encryption that consumers use:  WPA (or WPA2) and the older WEP.  If available, use WPA2.  This requires the sharing of a "pass phrase" that people use when they connect to the hotspot.  It allows the hotspot and the device to encrypt the data so that only people who need to access the data can.

Another feature of some of the higher-end WiFi hotspots is a "guest" network that lets visitors have access to the Internet, but not your local network.  This way, you can give people Internet access while keeping them away from your network.  The Apple AirPort Extreme is one such example.

The bottom line is:  be sure to secure your WiFi hotspots.  Most manufacturers make it very easy to do, including Linksys (part of Cisco) that offers installation software for their products that configure everything for you so you don't have to be a tech to do it.

Keeping your network and Internet access secure is a smart and easy way to protect you and your data.

Mark Mathias is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of NexFirm.  He has more than 30 years of experience with large and small company technology matters.

Friday, July 8, 2011

7 Reasons to Invest in LinkedIn as Part of Your Business Development Effort

Courtesy of Guest Blogger Bruce Segall

LinkedIn has gotten a lot of press recently, between a very successful IPO and surpassing 100  Million members. 1.5 M lawyers are now on LinkedIn. But still some lawyers hesitate.  Statistics by themselves don’t justify spending precious time building a LinkedIn presence. The second annual Salary and Social Media Survey, jointly sponsored by the Law Firm Media Professionals and Hellerman Baretz Communications (April 2011), does provide some persuasive reasons. For example, one law firm marketer said:
“LinkedIn has resulted in a number of referral opportunities for a variety of our attorneys, as well as meeting requests to discuss potential client representations.”
This doesn’t often happen quickly, however, so I wanted to summarize some other reasons for including LinkedIn as part of your business development effort:
1.   It doesn’t take a lot of time. LinkedIn requires setting up your own special type of profile. With a little guidance from readily available online reasources, you can do this on your own in 60-75 minutes. With someone to help you, it could take 30-45.  Once set up, you can spend as much – or as little – time as you want, although spending more time increases chances for success.
2.   Become “smarter” about your network.  LinkedIn is especially helpful the first time you meet someone or speak on the phone.  If you are somewhat low-key like me, LinkedIn is a way to establish a common connection immediately and seem “smart” about people. Just the other day, I noticed that a connection graduated three years before my wife at the same school – in the same sorority no less!
3.   Re-connect with old colleagues. Layoffs and turnover continue in corporate America, but your clients remain loyal to you even if they have moved on. LinkedIn’s “Advanced People Search” feature enables you to find these “Client Alumni” - an invaluable source of referrals and future business. Using this feature, you can reconnect with colleagues from firms you worked for earlier in your career – another valuable referral and networking resource.
4.   Increase traffic to your firm web site.  LinkedIn provides a free distribution channel.  After you finish a new legal alert or other material, post the piece to your firm website. Then you can initiate a LinkedIn “Discussion” (LinkedIn’s equivalent to ListServs) that includes a link to the item. Called “Inbound Links,” these are a key way to increase the ranking of your website in Google search results. LinkedIn provides many other opportunities to post inbound links.
5.   Use your marketing dollars wisely. LinkedIn offers many opportunities to make yourself visible at absolutely no cost. First, “Share an Update” about your speaking engagements and CLE lectures to those who can’t attend. The bigger your network, the more people you reach. You can also use the “Events” application to spread the word. These are just two ways –there are many more.
6.   Leverage new features that LinkedIn is constantly developing. Just in the last year, LinkedIn introduced “Answers,” where LinkedIn Users post general questions on any topic, including five legal categories. Some of you may know about the option to have a firm profile in addition to your individual profile. Last November, LinkedIn gave these profiles greatly improved capabilities, including space to add video content.
7.   You can have fun with it.  I personally enjoy reconnecting with old colleagues and finding out interesting facts about people in my network. LinkedIn is career-related, but also a lighter diversion. You can spend a minute on LinkedIn as a break during the day or while watching TV on weekends.
While LinkedIn offers great benefits, you should keep in mind some of the ethical concerns governing lawyers and promotions. For example, LinkedIn recommendations are an important part of most people’s online profile. But the question of whether lawyers and clients can recommend one another generated a huge response, with no clear answer: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/10/linkedin-recommendations-yay-or-nay/
Some attorneys I know find LinkedIn intriguing and fun initially, but then find it taking time without producing tangible benefits.  If this happens to you, I suggest just focusing on one or two things.  Like “Sharing an Update” with your network before every speaking engagement. Or taking 10 minutes on a Sunday to look up the profiles of every person on your calendar during the coming week. Remember one of the reasons to invest in LinkedIn as part of your business development:
It doesn't take a lot of time.

Bruce Segall is a professional services marketer and President of Marketing Sense for Business LLC.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Used to Think David Pogue was the Devil: How to Keep Control of Your Week


It all started as a 10-minute break on Thursday afternoons.  I would read David Pogue's technology reviews in the New York Times Personal Tech email:  Sometimes I’d chuckle, sometimes I’d find out about new technology and occasionally, when I was busy, I would just click delete.  Good stuff.

Along the way, I started feeling anxious when that email showed up in my mailbox.  It was a warning that the end of the week was here, and it made me feel like a quarter of a month had slipped away and again, I hadn't achieved everything I had hoped to.  Scrolling through the long list of columns he’d written, I would freak out.  How does he put out so many articles, reviews, books and webcasts each week?!?  His emails, I felt, were mocking me.

Even though it was all David Pogue's fault, I decided to take action.  Managing my time better each week would help me avoid feeling this bad each Thursday. I created a task list, and I figured out the 8 best ways to take control of my week.

1)  Create a detailed task list each week.  Without one, your days will become a series of reactions: to emails, to phone calls and to the other requests and distractions that we all experience.  Keep a master list of everything you’d like to do, and select items from that menu to focus for the week.

2)  Plan on Friday.  Set aside 3pm to 4pm on Friday afternoon to plan.  No exceptions.  You will hit the ground running on Monday morning.  More importantly, next week feels far away, so you can convince yourself to schedule big tasks that you might avoid when you’re in the heat of battle.  Plus, you’ll know if you need to work over the weekend because you have an unmanageable week coming up.  Send out requests for information and assistance on Friday, and set meetings and conference calls as well.  Giving notice will help keep others from gating your efforts. 

3)  Be strategic.  Don't put things on your list simply to check them off.  Compare your task list against a list of your strategic goals.  Items that don't help further strategic imperatives should come off the task list.  (If you haven't taken the time to list your strategic goals, you ought to.  I will write about that another time).

4)  Don't be a doormat.  We are all forced to commit to tasks because someone is bugging us.  Don’t let pressure take you away from important things you want to accomplish.  To be in control of your career you must keep control of your schedule; so make plans that serve your objectives and tell the squeaky wheel to keep squeaking.

5) Leave time for emergencies, and personal business.  Some emergencies can’t be avoided.  If you don’t leave time to deal with them, you’ll never have time to complete the things you want to.  We all have personal lives that require our attention, so leave some time for that too.    

6) Say no.  If you treat every request you receive as an emergency, your week will be out of control.   Things that come up are almost always less important than the plans you have scheduled, so stick to your guns.  You have to say no.  When you can't say no, try to carve out tasks that fit into your schedule, or delegate so that you don't find yourself off track.

7) Don’t let deadlines rule you.  Facing deadlines on top of deadlines, it’s easy to forget to make time for the things that are not time sensitive.  Like lunch.  And thinking.  Leave time in your schedule to do important but leisurely things like taking clients and colleagues to lunch or committing new ideas to writing.  If you wait until your schedule slows down to do these things, you are never going to do them.

8)  Set expectations.  When you decide what you won’t be doing next week, let those who are affected know (nicely, of course).  Sharing your upcoming week’s plan will allow others to adjust, and hopefully be an aid to you instead of an anchor.

Once you’ve gotten your schedule under control, you can enjoy David Pogue on Thursday afternoons, too.


David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm.  He can be reached at dd@nexfirm.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spend Smarter: How to Manage Your Legal Budget

This week, we'd like to present an interesting article written by the ABA and highlighted by Paul Lippe of Legal OnRamps. We hope it will interest our readers, as we think that in-house counsels are thinking along similar lines. 

All of the points in this piece create big opportunities for small firms (especially #5), because they require a "quarterback" for outside legal services.  Positioning your firm as the leader who defines the objectives and the process will show your worth to your clients.  They'll be more than happy to pay for your service.

Perhaps the best and most resonating point that Lippe makes is that there won't be a "return to normal" any time soon.  Consider his advice and create a new normal for your firm.





Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eating Our Own Dogfood: Using My Own Services

Every day, I meet with founding partners to discuss their practices’ IT needs, and we often touch upon PC (or Mac) support mechanisms that will allow them to replace a lost or malfunctioning computer in a timely manner.  I cannot stress the importance of this kind of system.  In our view, timely means the next business morning.  There are expenses associated with support like this, but the math clearly shows that it is more expensive not to have it.  For an average attorney who bills 7 hours, losing one business day means thousands of dollars.  These dollars add up fast if a few days pass.  This doesn't include the reputational cost you incur when your attorney has to tell a client they can't service them because of a bad computer.  For a small firm, this can make you seem small time and cause clients to question your capabilities.
Often, I hear "We won't need this. I've had this computer for 3 years and I've never had a problem."  My favorite: "I have a Mac, and it's flawless."  It all sounds great until your computer goes bad, as mine did this week.  Oddly, this is actually the second time in a year that this has happened.  Last time my daughter poured a glass of water on my keyboard.  Goodnight, nurse.  This time, I have no idea what happened; it just quit.  Of course, it happened at the worst possible time.  Things are booming here at NexFirm and I couldn't be busier working on proposals for new clients or working harder to meet the needs of our existing clients.  As you can imagine, lots of deadlines and no computer equals enormous stress.  To make matters worse, I had photos of my kids, my music, and a bunch of other personal documents on that computer.  I felt completely crippled.
As unfortunate as it was, it gave me a chance to "eat my own dogfood," or to see how NexFirm's support and replacement service would work for me in this jam.  You might think that as the CEO of NexFirm I would get preferential service, but in practice I get on the end of the line behind our clients.  (Least favored nation status, so to speak.)  So, I waited to receive my computer, which arrived the next business morning, just as we promise to our clients.  While I waited, I used our web tools, which allowed me to access my email and documents and to stay productive working from my home computer.  When I received my new system, I hadn't lost any data, and all of my applications were just as I’d left them.  In the end, my heart attack turned out to be a tiny blip.
Without my NexFirm team, how might my experience have been different?  A quick check today showed a 7 to 10 day wait to receive a new laptop from Lenovo.  Dell was no better.  Since that would be untenable, and we couldn't find a way to get a replacement that met the specifications I needed on short notice,  I probably would have been forced to buy something inexpensive from Best Buy to get through the week while I waited for a new system.   That would have meant spending the day buying and configuring a computer, as well as trying to restore my data.  Then another day when my permanent system arrived.  The answer is lots of unproductive time, how much is hard to say.
Think carefully about the cost of not having IT support for your users, and include lost work time and the cost of temporary replacement solutions.  It's bound to be more than the cost of having a support system in place, and it will certainly save you from stress and aggravation.
David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm.  He can be reached at dd@nexfirm.com.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Would Rex Ryan Make a Good BigLaw Managing Partner?


As I emotionally recovered from the heartbreaking news that the NY Jets won’t be competing in this year’s Superbowl, I decided to go back and reread a post I first wrote in September but never published (some of the people here thought that Rex Ryan was controversial so the post would annoy readers).  Aside from the fun I had watching my team prepare for what promised to be an exciting season, I was really surprised to learn about the training camp coaching process as I watched Hard Knocks on HBO.  More to the point, I was incredibly impressed with the communication techniques I saw.  The NY Jets seem to be doing a better job of managing their organization than any law firm I can think of.  What can we all learn from Rex’s management style?  Set clear objectives, provide feedback and constantly measure whether your message is being received.

An organization with a single purpose.
During the first team meeting of the season, coach Rex Ryan’s slide show starts with the objective: Win the Superbowl.  He follows up with the steps to reach this goal: “To have the most wins on offense, to have the most wins on defense and to have the most wins on special teams.”  Well, this might not be a surprise, but it surely is clear.

Do your attorneys know what it means for your organization to “win the Superbowl,” or the steps it takes to get there?  If not, communicating your goals as an organization will allow them to keep focused on what is important, to think strategically and to be motivated by something that is often forgotten these days: Purpose.

Clear communication of individual objectives with honest feedback.
The frankness of Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum in player meetings is noticeable.  He tells one player “I am not sure that you are good enough to make it in the NFL,” and tells another “you played your best but the other guy was just better than you.” The biggest surprise is that the player always appreciates the feedback!

Your attorneys may not respond well to such harsh feedback, but they do want an honest assessment of their work, good or bad.  Well articulated objectives and uncolored feedback are tools that we all need to succeed professionally, and we all value managers that provide them.  On the flip side, failing to let your staff know how they are doing creates frustration and distraction.

Speaking the language of your team.
It seems like Rex Ryan thinks that the language of his team is exclusively four letter words; maybe not a good strategy in a law office.  But I notice that his players, when interviewed, seem to use the same phrases that he does.  In my mind, that is a sign that his message is received and processed by his audience.  Speaking in a vernacular that resonates with the team is just the first step, repeating and measuring the receptiveness of the group is the key.  Scenes showing the coach visiting players in their bedrooms at lights out demonstrated his technique, but there are many ways to get belly to belly with your team and find out if they are clear on their assignment.

How do you suspect it would help your organization if you defined and communicated the company’s goals, clearly articulated each team member’s role and provided critical feedback on their performance and spent more time talking with them to make sure that they were on the same page as you?  Give it a try, who knows, you might just win your Superbowl.
Oh, and don’t throw the ball on 3rd and goal from the one yard line.

David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm.  He can be reached at dd@nexfirm.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Communicating With Clients: Social Media and New Technologies

Communicating with your customers has never been easier than it is now.  The trick is:  Do you have something worth paying attention to?

Much as laser printers and desktop publishing software gave people the ability to publish their own newsletters, the Internet -- and in particular social media -- allows people to speak on the global stage.

At the business level, most people use social media to promote their organization, their services and their products.  Although the list of available social media platforms and networks grows every day, the most common for marketing are still the two largest: Facebook and Twitter.

One thing to realize is that social media is entirely content driven, which requires a balance of quality and quantity.  People often believe that by having a Facebook or Twitter account, you must be very active in order to be effective.  Yes, there are people who seem to post all the time, but that's like the person who doesn't stop talking.  People typically get tired of others who don't say much of value.

The lesser said is oftentimes more listened to.

While it's natural to want to post about yourself (this is what Facebook was originally intended for), the savvy social media poster knows that unless you're Ashton Kutcher, people aren't really following YOU…they're following what you know.  When celebrities tweet, they’re marketing a product just like any other business.  In Ashton’s case, he himself is the product.  For a small law firm, your products are your services and your expertise.

Craft your message to your intended audience.  As an expert in a specific area, demonstrate your skills by discussing breaking news that affects your area of practice.  Let people know about loopholes or pitfalls they should be aware of.  Tell them about an upcoming event where you're speaking or exhibiting that they may wish to attend.

You need to promote your law firm’s social media offerings whenever possible.  Link to them on your website, mention them in marketing literature, at speaking engagements, even on your business cards.  Don’t expect anyone to go out in search of your Twitter account unless you make it as easy as possible.  You may not see an immediate effect on your bottom line, but you'll garner followers that will come to know you better and hopefully contact you when their needs align with what you offer.

By using social media, you can reach people that would otherwise never know about you.  If they need your services, great, but they can also recommend you to others who may need you.  Either way, social media can help your business grow and flourish.

Mark Mathias is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of NexFirm.  He has more than 30 years of experience with large and small company technology matters.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Look Before You Sign: Learning What You Need Takes Time

Starting your business always costs more than you think, so holding onto your cash is typically going to be your primary objective when you first start out.
Many startups are founded by people who have left large firms where most, if not all, of their technology was provided for them.  So, if that’s you, you’ll have to make all of these decisions yourself.  And, if you find yourself  unprepared, you’re not alone.
If I can offer any advice, it would be these two things:
1.        Retain the right to cancel services, and pay as you go if you can.
2.       Customize your systems to suit your needs.
Sure, it’s possible to go out and buy all of the technology products and services you think you’ll need:  computer, software, phones (desk and mobile), email, Web sites, scanners, and all the other gadgets Fortune 500s take for granted. But paying a service for just what you need is a great way to try out a solution beforehand, and it helps you decide if you need to make the larger financial and contractual commitment.
By using a service that you can modify or cancel, you’re assured of keeping your initial capital outlay as low as possible while you try out services that are appropriate to your new business. For example, do you need a desktop computer and/or a laptop computer and with a myriad of options out there, which ones are right for you?  Don’t go out and buy the entire Apple store (and the 2 year contract that their mobile devices usually require) if you spend the day in your home office and only need a computer for email and word processing.  An inexpensive desktop might be all you really need.  Or, if you’ve got a lot of international clients, don’t commit to a long international phone plan without trying out cheaper web-based options, like Skype.
More than likely, you’ll need a technology environment that’s quite different than you had before you started your firm.  Rely on people who focus on small business successes (I can recommend at least one good firm) before plunking down your valuable cash on something you may have to “make do” with for three to five years.
When you do decide whether to buy or license your technology, you’ll know it works for you.
Mark Mathias is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of NexFirm.  He has more than 30 years of experience with large and small company technology matters.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tracking Time On Time

There has been an interesting flow of news stories lately about BigLaw firms cracking down on late time keeping.  Hughes Hubbard plans to cut the salary of attorneys by as much as 20% if they don’t get their time items in on a timely basis (their definition being “within 5 days”).  Simpson Thacher is doing something similar.  Akin Gump’s managing partner Steve Pesner recently penned an email to his team on the subject that was unforgettable—“For those of you who think you are exempt from doing time sheets on a daily basis, I’d suggest that you re-evaluate your importance and get ready to prove that (a) you are busier than I am on legal work, (b) you are busier than I am on client development work, (c) you are busier than I am on firm work and (d) [redacted] and I do not have better things to do with our time than beg you to be responsible … and incidentally, it is my understanding that the job market is not so good right now in case you did not know.”

While these might seem like rude and forceful reactions I, for one, don’t think that these are overreactions.  The timely recording of billable work enables three critical outcomes for a firm:  the precise collection of billable time, the rapid collections of receivables and real time analysis of staff utilization.  As you can imagine the bottom line effect in a BigLaw firm is significant, ranging in the millions each year.  While the dollars are smaller, the effect on a small firm is more dramatic.
Take for instance the precision of time collection.  I’ve heard higher estimates, but in my experience (at NexFirm), a timekeeper can lose as much as .3 hours per day by delaying the recording of entries to the end of the day as opposed to making them in real time.  To be conservative, let’s round it down to .1, or six minutes per day.  At $400 per hour, it is $10,000 per year in lost revenues.  For a firm of three, call it $30,000 of pure profit out the window.  I think any small firm would find this to be a meaningful amount.
Utilization management can drive even larger profitability gains. In the business of legal services, each minute that ticks away is gone forever and can no longer be monetized.  Using real time entry data, a managing partner at a small firm can more efficiently allocate work to those who are not busy.  If these efforts result in an additional .1 of billable hours per attorney per day, tack on another $30,000 of profit to our theoretical three person firm.
Sending bills out to your clients on time starts by having all of your time entries in the billing system, and drives a shorter cash collection cycle.  It’s a bit harder to put a dollar amount against this benefit, but if you run a small firm you are undoubtedly well aware of the need to drive cash collections.
Encouraging your attorneys to track their time entries in real time can pay big dividends.  To make this happen, create a billing environment that is user friendly and easily available.  Create a culture that encourages real time recording of entries; start by explaining the importance of these efforts to your team, set a good example by doing it yourself and provide reminders and policing that prevent timekeepers from getting off track.

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David DePietto is the founder and CEO of NexFirm.  He can be reached at dd@nexfirm.com.