Developing great project management skills is critical to running a successful law practice. As lawyers, we often hone these skills by staying on top of deadlines and conducting thorough due diligence. However, in the daily grind, we can overlook other essential pieces of the puzzle, like maintaining logs of client communications, which help maintain a good attorney-client relationship and help to delegate tasks appropriately.
Keep Records of Client Conversations
Over the life your client relationships, you will have many conversations. But how many of those conversations do you actually remember? More specifically, how much of the details can you recall? Keeping up with these details are crucial, because they empower you to understand your client’s needs and offer solutions.
Once you begin a new relationship with a client, it’s important to keep accurate logs of your conversations. Whether by telephone or email, keeping records of what you've discussed with a client will extend your memory with a specific reference point for any "fuzzy" details.
This, in turn, saves you time in the long run. If your notes are organized well, you will be able to easily recall important information shared by your client and won't waste time asking for the same information twice. Logging client communications also keeps other members of your team in the know.
Over the life cycle of a case, one may end up with copious records of client communications. Fortunately, there are law firm technology tools that make it easy to make records of client conversations in a way that protects the client’s privacy and allows other members of your law firm to easily review the information.
In addition to logging relevant factual information from your client, consider recording the following items, which will help you to create and nuture a good client relationship:
- Client questions. Any question a client asks you should be recorded, even something as simple as, “Are you open on weekends?” By recording all the client's questions in a conversation log, you'll be able to make sure you (or your legal assistant) provides consistent answers so there is no confusion.
- Client needs. Client needs may be explicitly stated or simply implied. For example, if a client mentions that they are out of town every Tuesday, make a note in your conversation log so you don't try to schedule a meeting on a day you know they'll be unavailable.
- Your promises. Even if they aren't an official client yet, you are still making promises on which you must deliver. Statements such as “I will call you on Friday,” is a promise that should be recorded in your conversation log. Make it a top priority to keep your promises, even the small ones. Logging client conversations can make that easier to do.
Related: Convert Leads into Paying Clients
If you’re currently keeping paper conversation logs, consider transferring them to a safe and secure system, such as CaseFleet or another practice management solution.
No matter how good of an attorney you are or how large your book of business, your ability to effectively delegate tasks is probably the single most important factor in reaching goals set for your law firm. If you want to be successful, you must be able to effectively delegate tasks to others and keep track of who is doing what. A great leader never does everything.
- Skilled people. The first step to effective delegation begins with your choice of people. When you are selecting someone to take on a task, always choose the person with a proven track record of getting things done competently and efficiently. Also, make sure the task assignment is aligned with the team member's talents and passions. People are more likely to effectively do something that brings them pleasure.
- Unpleasant tasks. Never delegate a task simply because you don’t want to do it. If a task is unpleasant, be willing to take it on as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with your “big picture” responsibilities. If you have no other choice than to delegate an unpleasant task, acknowledge the difficulty or unpleasantness and find out what you can do to help make task easier. Your team will respect you more if you are willing to get your hands dirty or at least acknowledge the hard and unpleasant work they are doing.
- Clear guidance. Delegation doesn’t end when you hand over a task. It’s up to you to give clear guidance on what is expected. While this may take more time upfront, it pays off in the long run. Once someone knows what they are supposed to do and what is expected of them, they can confidently forge ahead with the completion of their task.
- Surrender power. Once you’ve handed over a task and given clear guidance on your expectations, you must surrender power over how the task gets done. Micromanaging your staff will erode their self-confidence, morale, and motivation. Check in with them, of course, but only to find out if they have any questions or need help. Always acknowledge that you trust their judgment, which you will if you chose the right person for the task.
If you want to automate your project management and become more a more effective and efficient law office, consider how CaseFleet can help you easily assign tasks and manage your cases.