For years, we’ve known two things about personal health: ‘We are what we eat’ and ‘We need to move more.’
Specific admonitions and instructions change, but the theme is consistent. The human body needs a balance of nutrient rich foods with a compliment of vitamins and minerals. And there are the things to avoid — especially in excess — sugar, bad fats and processed foods. Add some exercise that gets the heart rate up and tones muscles, and we’re on the road to a healthier life.
But what are the keys to a healthier law firm?
It is not complicated. We suspect (or intuitively know) most of this; but not unlike working out and eating right, sometimes the daily grind gets in the way of basic principles. When it comes to the managing a law firm there are a few things that you should really focus on. So here are 6 keys to maintaining a healthier law firm.
The healthy law firm avoids excess in the areas of:
- Debt. Relying on debt to fund operations is like fast food – convenient, but often detrimental to the firm’s health. Few law firms that manage debt appropriately run into severe financial trouble…no matter how volatile the market might become. On the other hand, a little taste of that credit line in order to even out cash flow can be a slippery slope. Borrowing for new furniture and equipment acquisitions, or to finance lateral hiring are warning signs. An increasing reliance on debt can become a crushing burden.
- People Costs. The cost of excessive staffing — whether attorney or administrative — is like two scoops of double chocolate chip every night. Not only does excess staffing come with a fixed cost; when the human resources exceed the amount of work to be done, morale drops. Financial pressures increase. Layoffs typically ensue. And culture is weakened — not to mention the damage done to those adversely affected. Careful modeling that clearly outlines the cost of adding people is one of the signs of a disciplined and healthy law firm.
- Space. Commitments to expensive or excessive space have been the ruin of many a firm. Increasingly, healthy firms are minimizing the number of square feet they commit to, and resisting the temptation to lease premium space in the shiniest new building in town.
Avoid excess in these three areas, and you’ll be well positioned to focus on the remaining three keys to health.
- Stay Connected With Each Other. The things that brought you together as a firm are the things that, if nurtured, will create a cultural fabric strong enough to meet challenges, embrace opportunities, and withstand almost anything. It sounds so simple, but quality communication is often like the physical exercise we know we need; it is the last thing we get to…or not.
- Remember The Sweet Spot. A firm grows stronger by focusing on excellence in work product and service. Stick with what you know. Resist the temptation to be all things to all clients. Unless yours is a most unusual firm, that’s likely not your sweet spot.
- Stay Connected With Clients. A law firm that consistently maintains an understanding of what clients really think, care about, and need has landed on the formula for maintaining organizational health.
How healthy is your law firm?