This is a guest post from Rachel Parisi, Managing Partner at Ledbetter Parisi LLC.
“I’m not a numbers person—that’s why I went to law school.” Ever heard that phrase? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.
Except for that interesting breed of tax attorneys, it’s not uncommon to shy away from the heavy lifting when it comes to numbers. But if you’re the managing partner—or have any interest in your firm’s efficiency—there are certain numbers that you’ll need to stay on top of.
For all of you non-numbers attorneys out there (myself included), here’s a number you cannot afford to avoid: The 2017 Legal Trends Report found that attorneys spend only 2.3 hours per day on billable tasks. That means that lawyers are spending less than 30% of their day creating revenue for their firms with billable work.
If you have any doubts about how important tracking productivity is, take a look at the report: It is an eye-opener.
In the meantime, read on to get some ideas on how to use productivity tracking at your firm. We’ll take a look at a real-life example of putting productivity tracking to the test, dealing with common objections to tracking productivity, ways to get creative insights from your productivity statistics, and more.
Tracking productivity successfully: A very short case study
Billable hours are the lifeblood of most firms, including mine. When we switched to Clio three years ago, one of the first functions I dug into was the productivity reports option. We had added a number of associates to the team and wanted to make sure our internal processes were scaling as our staff grew.
It didn’t take long to identify which key productivity metrics our firm wanted to track. We wanted to be able to:
- Track how many hours were being worked.
- Determine what percentage of those hours were billable.
- Identify inefficiencies in staffing and workload.
- Provide staff with a way to easily monitor their own hours.
Once we knew what we were looking for, we were able to implement our tracking system. It took a bit of fine-tuning, but before long, we were effectively using productivity tracking on a weekly and monthly basis.
How to track productivity
What’s worked for our firm is a framework in which the managing partner tracks time on an ongoing basis, runs the productivity reports, and works with staff if there are productivity problems. At monthly partner meetings, we include a recurring agenda item for productivity review. The review looks at where we are as a firm, whether there are any issues on a staff member basis, and what can be done to improve productivity.