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Managing Your Law Firm by the Numbers

Whatever gets measured, gets improved. If you don’t measure your numbers for marketing, case management and finance, you won’t identify the flaws in your systems. And that, my friend, is a problem.

By identifying a few rocks for every department of your law firm, you have a scorecard that you can use to measure your progress. Is your website getting more traffic and converting more clients?  Are you getting more lawyer referrals and which lawyers are sending you the most work? You should know this. 

The Most Important Rock for a Trial Firm

What is the most important number (a/k/a “rocks”) in your law firm? Our law firm’s most important rock is the number of trial dates. If we have 9-12 confirmed trial dates over the next 12 months, we’re going to have a good year. Of course, things don’t always work out as you expect—your client might die or a defendant might file a bankruptcy petition, but confirmed trial dates gives us the best gauge of our outlook for the next 12 months. 

“You will gain the power of being able to manage your company through a chosen handful of numbers.”

Gino Wickman, “Traction

What rocks should you measure? Take your firm’s growth chart (a/k/a accountability chart) and identify the most important numbers for each department. You will have different rocks for marketing, case management and finance. Keep things simple—less is better.


When measuring rocks for finance, you should compare the current year to the previous year in the following:

  • Revenue
  • Profit
  • Salary Cap (cost of salaries as a percentage of total expenses)
  • Projected Revenue (over next 12 months)


To get an overview of your marketing results, you should begin by checking these rocks:

# of ACTIVE CASESAn active case is either in litigation or has been accepted for litigation. 

# of POTENTIAL CASES:  A potential case is under consideration, but has not been accepted for litigation.

# of NEW LEADS (last 30 days)A new lead is a lead from any source—digital, referral, etc., regardless of merit.

Next, you should take a deeper look at the sources of your leads by dividing your marketing into 3 categories, namely, non-digital/traditional, digital/internet and social media.

Non-Digital/Traditional Marketing

  • # of Referral Partners
  • # of New Referrals Partners acquired in this Calendar Year
  • # of Referred Cases Accepted for Litigation/Calendar Year

Digital/Internet Marketing

  • # of Website Visitors (ProtectingPatientRights.com)
  • # of New Website Pages/last 30 days
  • # of Links to Website
  • # of New Links acquired for Website/last 30 days

Social Media Marketing

  • # of Posts/last 30 days
  • # of Followers
  • # of Shares
  • # of Engagement


The rocks for our case management consist of 3 numbers:

  • # of Active Cases (an “active case” means a lawsuit has been filed)
  • # of Trial Dates (a trial date means we have a confirmed trial date from the court)
  • Stage of Every Active Case 

The 4 Stages of a Lawsuit

To make sure every lawsuit is making progress, you should establish rocks (deadlines for each stage of a lawsuit) for case management.  For a trial law firm, there are four stages of a lawsuit:

  • Filing of the Lawsuit
  • Paper Discovery
  • Depositions
  • Trial


What This Is:  Filing of the summons and complaint until receipt of the all of the defendants’ answers

Goal: 60 days


What This Is:  Receipt of Defendant’s Answer to Service of Plaintiff’s Discovery Responses and Discovery Demands

Goal:  60 days


What This Is:  Service of Plaintiff’s Discovery Responses until the Last Deposition

Goal:  6 months


What This Is: Filing of the Note of Issue to First Day of Trial

Goal: 9 months

Tracking Every Stage of the Lawsuit

For every active lawsuit, we track three numbers, namely, the stage of the case, e.g., paper discovery, depositions, etc., the duration of the case in its current stage and the time remaining in the stage.  If we’ve served the plaintiff’s discovery responses and demands and conducting depositions, the rocks would be reported as:

Client: Oddibe McDowell

#1:  Stage of Lawsuit: Deposition

#2:  Duration in Current Stage: 2 months, 13 days

#3:  Time Remaining for Stage: 3 months, 17 days

The goal is to move a case to trial within 18 months and that’s won’t happen if we aren’t tracking our case management “rocks”. Can we do better? Of course, but 18 months is a realistic goal in almost all venues outside of New York City.

A Scorecard for Every Employee

With these rocks, you have a simple scorecard for measuring your law firm’s progress, but don’t stop there. Every employee should have rocks to measure their work.  But where do you start? Just as with your law firm’s rocks, go through law firm’s accountability chart (e.g., marketing, case management and finance) to identify the most important rocks for your team.

Don’t fret if you have trouble identifying your rocks. Take a day to sit down with your team to share with them your law firm’s rocks. With feedback from your team, you can create their individual rocks to help accomplish your law firm’s rocks. 

You might measure your paralegal’s rocks in the following:

  • # of Completed Discovery Demands and Responses
  • # of Contacts with Clients—Potential and Active
  • # of Requests for Online Reviews
  • # of Posts and Shares on your Firm’s Facebook page

Case Management--# of Completed Discovery Responses: For a litigation paralegal, you might measure the number of completed discovery responses and demands in the current month. What else can you measure?

Case Management--# of Client Contacts:  Client communication (or the lack thereof) is a problem for all law firms.  Ask your paralegal to document on a scorecard whenever they speak with a client. Every client—active and potential--should be contacted by your paralegal at least once every 4 weeks.

“These numbers must allow you to have an absolute pulse on your business.”

Gino Wickman, “Traction

Marketing—# of Online Reviews:  Law firms should crave online reviews (focus on your firm’s profile on Google My Business), but you can’t do this alone. Ask your paralegal to document on a scorecard every time they request an online review from a client. This will keep online reviews top of mind for your paralegal.

Marketing—# of Social Media Posts & Shares: Law firms should have a vibrant presence on social media, but this too is neglected. Have your paralegal document on a scorecard every time they post or share on your firm’s business page on Facebook. Getting your team involved in your firm’s social media marketing.

Weekly Self-Reporting of Individual and Law Firm Rocks

Ask your team members to report their individual rocks at the end of the week on a Slack channel and assign someone to report the rocks of each team member. With weekly rocks that are reported on a weekly basis, you will have a pulse on law firm unlike anything else.

“The unfortunate reality is that most organizations do not have a Scorecard.”

Gino Wickman, “Traction

Some team members may balk at self-reporting their rocks—they’re too busy and might tell you that they have better things to do. But these employees are not a good fit for a data-driven law firm and it might be time to find someone who is.

Making Your Rocks Visible for Your Team

Every month, update the numbers and keep a physical scorecard in your conference room for your team to see. The tracking of the rocks on a visible scorecard will keep them top of mind, and your team will know how they’re doing (and you will too).  What has your secretary accomplished their rocks in the last 30 days? 

“With vision clear, people in place, and data being managed through a Scorecard, you’re creating a transparent organization where there is nowhere to hide.”

Gino Wickman, “Traction

With a weekly scorecard, you know what has to be done over the next week/month. If your paralegal is not serving discovery responses and demands, your cases will languish (and you won’t get paid).  A scorecard also gives you data upon which you can base quarterly employee evaluations.

Get started by reading Gino Wickman’s classic book, “Traction”. Chapter 5 of “Traction” is an excellent roadmap for creating your firm’s and individual rocks. And once you’ve defined your firm’s rocks, send me an email (jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com), and as a small token of my appreciation, I’ll send you a copy of my new book, The Law firm of Your Dreams

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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.