“Everything you’ve been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong”

How to Chart the Future of Your Law Firm

It’s easy to think that you don’t need an organizational chart for the growth of your law firm. You’re not a mega-corporation and an organizational chart is nothing more than a fancy corporate document that the employees ignore. Not so fast, my friend.

Four years ago, I spent a day at a mastermind at Infusionsoft, where we focused on defining the roles and duties of the members of my small law firm (3 employees). The co-founders of Infusionsoft, Clate Mask and Scott Martineau, explained how they went from a tiny business run by two guys to one of the leading technology companies in the country, at least in part, by implementing a growth/organizational chart. Clate emphasized that an organizational chart “instills clarity and confidence from chaos and confusion.”

Now they had my attention.

An organizational chart (a.k.a. “growth chart”) creates a plan for growth based upon defined roles and expectations. The team members know what is expected of them and have specific metrics (“the BIG 3”) that define their success for every quarter.

Begin with the End in Mind

What are your goals in 3 years? Be as specific as possible, including the number of employees, annual revenue/income, number of cases and what your ideal workday looks like.

What would your law firm need to look like to achieve those goals? Write titles and boxes and write in the names of the persons serving those functions (your name may be in every box for now). Chart where you’re going and once you’ve filled each role, take your name out of these boxes.

If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.

–Stephen R. Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Once you know what you want your law firm to look like in 3 years, create a growth chart that will get you there.

The Entrepreneurial Growth Chart for Lawyers

A growth chart gives you a roadmap. Lay out the functional areas of your law firm in a simple manner—do not follow the typical organizational chart. Think of how you can align existing talent with this roadmap and structure your law firm around the value you provide. Keep it simple and be unique.

The growth chart of John H. Fisher, P.C. has 3 departments: Finance, Operations and Marketing.

Chief Executive Officer

Objective: Goal setting, define purpose values, and mission, and strategic planning for improvement

Vision is the number one responsibility of every great leader.

–Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft

Finance

Objective: Track revenue/income, track cash flow, and create budgets for marketing and operations

Positions:

  • Vice President of Finance
  • Controller
  • Bookkeeper

Vice President of Finance: Manage accounting and ensure adequate working capital

Controller: Maintain financials and keep firm’s expenses within a budget

Bookkeeper: Keep books, reduce expenses and pay vendors, and respond to billing inquiries

Operations

Objective: Hiring and onboarding of employees, manage lawsuits, and track our firm’s progress

Vision without execution is just hallucination.”

–Thomas Edison

Positions:

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Human Relations Manager
  • Case Manager
  • Executive Assistant to the Case Manager
  • Client Care Advocate
  • Dream Manager

Chief Operating Officer: Ensure compliance with office policies

Human Relations Manager: Hiring and onboarding of employees

Case Manager: Manage all phases of a lawsuit, including filing lawsuits, drafting discovery demands and responses and meeting discovery deadlines

Executive Assistant to the Case Manager: Acquire medical records and schedule depositions

Client Care Advocate: Ensure fanatical “WOW” support of clients and referral partners

Dream Manager: Help team members achieve their dreams by meeting with team members to formulate specific plans for dream fulfillment

Marketing

Objective: Attract new clients, keep clients for life, and attract new referral partners

Look for opportunities to be uncomfortable because that means you’re growing.”

–Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft

Positions:

  • Vice President of Marketing
  • Copywriter
  • Internet Marketing Expert
  • Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) Expert
  • Community Relations Leader

Vice President of Marketing: Identify target markets, find new clients, expand relationships with new referral partners, expand list-building capabilities and decrease costs of acquiring new clients

Copywriter: Write sales letters and create information products

Internet Marketing Expert: Online lead generation of clients and referral partners

Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) Expert: Maintain database of clients and referral partners, apply CRM to lead generation and client communication, and integrate CRM with case management software

Community Relations Leader: Launch community marketing programs and establish relationships with members of the media

Your growth chart is a fluid document that will change over time as your firm grows. Share the growth chart with your team members, get their feedback and make sure you’re not missing anything. Once your team members agree to the assigned duties and job descriptions, create a graph of your growth chart and post it in your conference room.

Employee Evaluations Using the BIG 3

Every position on your growth chart should have a Big 3 for evaluating their performance on a quarterly basis. Identify the core 3 responsibilities for each of the defined positions on your growth chart and change the Big 3 as the need arises. Each team member should score themselves on the Big 3. (ETW.com is a software for employees to self-report their performance).

When performance is measured, performance improves.

When performance is reported, performance improves dramatically.

When performance is reported publicly, performance improves exponentially.

–Thomas S. Monson

Do quarterly reviews of each employee based upon the Big 3 metrics for their position. Create a “Quarterly Review Form” for the Big 3 metrics and measure performance based on these criteria.

Each of the Big 3 metrics is graded based upon the following:

  • “E”: Consistently EXCEEDS expectations as measured by 3 metrics
  • “M”: Consistently MEETS expectations as measured by 3 metrics
  • “I”: IMPROVEMENT needed; does not consistently meet expectations.

On the Quarterly Review of our law firm, Metric #1 for a Case Manager is getting at least 3 confirmed trial dates every 3 months. Make the Quarterly Review Form simple and easy to understand and celebrate when a team member achieves her Big 3.

Quarterly Review Form of John H. Fisher, P.C.

Employee name: Jane Doe

Role:                  Case Manager

Quarter:              3rd quarter of 2017 (July 1, 2017—September 31, 2017)

Metric #1:          Confirm 1 new trial date per month

Description:       A trial date must be scheduled and confirmed by the court

Expected Result:          3 new trial dates per quarter

Actual Result:      Confirmed 2 new trial dates

Rating:               IMPROVEMENT needed

Comments about Performance:     The discovery phase of the lawsuit has taken more than nine months (14 ½ months) and exceeds our goals for the completion of discovery.

Some of the delays were beyond our control, but we need to focus on completing discovery within 9 months and implementing our 12-step Litigation Checklist as each step of discovery is completed.

Vision: Purpose, Values and Mission memorized?

Yes X No__

Our 4 Core Values:      Know what they are AND what they mean?

Yes X No__

At the end of the year, you won’t be guessing about your employees’ performance, you’ll have four quarterly evaluations for your review.

Measure Your Success at Monthly Progress Meetings

Try measuring the key metrics in financial, marketing and internet marketing. If you get too bogged down in numbers, they become meaningless. Less is more. Pick 3-5 important metrics and track them every month.

Start with these metrics for your financial, marketing and internet marketing goals.

Financial

  • Current Revenue/Profitability (year to date)
  • Projected Annual Revenue/Profitability
  • Marketing Costs
  • Operating Costs

Marketing

  • Total # of Active Cases
  • Total # of Leads Acquired
  • Total # of Potential Cases
  • Total # of Referral Partners

Internet Marketing

  • Total # of Website Visitors to ProtectingPatientRights.com
  • Total # of Inbound Links (ProtectingPatientRights.com)
  • Total # of Website Visitors to UltimateInjuryLaw.com
  • Total # of Inbound Links (UltimateInjuryLaw.com)

Have your Chief Operating Officer (a.k.a. “officer manager”) provide these metrics on a flow chart for all team members at a monthly progress meeting. The metrics will be easier to understand and you’ll have numbers to measure your progress. Better yet, post your goals on a whiteboard in your conference room, so they stay top of mind at daily and weekly meetings.

Are You Up for a Challenge?

With a growth chart, quarterly performance evaluations and monthly progress reports, you’re not praying for success—you’re virtually guaranteeing it. And in the process, you’re charting a clear path for your law firm’s future. And hey, if these business practices were the foundation for the success of one of the nation’s top internet companies (Infusionsoft), maybe you should give them a shot too.

 

photo credit: aquopshilton via photopin (license)

Be Sociable, Share!
    Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.
    CLOSE
    CLOSE