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Start planning now so you can get the most out of the slow days of summer

By Elizabeth M. Miller  bio

Summer is here, and with that the inevitable slow-down of the court dockets as judges and judicial assistants make their escape over summer vacation. There are many ways to make efficient use of this downtime that will benefit the firm and keep you on track to end the year on a successful, and profitable, note.

Here are 4 ways to make efficient and cost-effective use of the summer slowdown:

  1. This is a good time to encourage your support staff to take time off, especially if they have children who are on break from school. Since there is a slow down on the court docket, try to rotate schedules so there is enough coverage in the office without incurring the expense of hiring a temporary staff person. Fortunately, the truth of the matter is that the inefficiency of temporary help outweighs the benefits and it ends up being counter-cost productive. With a less hectic schedule in the office, other staff members should be able to cover for each other without too much of an inconvenience.
  1. By the end of June, the firm is at the half-way mark for the year, and this is a good indicator of the profit and loss for the firm thus far. Sit down with the firm’s decision-makers look at the firm’s income and expenses. This needs to be a close line item by line item look at the expenses. I always tell my clients, I may not have a way to save $1,000, but I can find 1,000 ways to save $1.00 and in the end, it’s the same thing.
  1. Look at the billable hours of the attorneys and paralegals of the firm. Are they meeting their billable quotas? If not, why not? How far off are the hours? Is the quota 150 and they are hitting 100? If so, now is the time to do something about it rather than let it go on another 6 months until the end of the year. Be sure that every month when you generate client billing you provide each timekeeper with an hourly billable report for that month and for the quarter. It’s important for them to know every month if they are making and/or exceeding their quota.
  1. Is there a trial or evidentiary hearing coming up right after the summer slowdown? Get ready for it now. With summer associates and extra help available, put them to work and get those cases pulled on Westlaw, get the files and exhibits organized, find the witnesses and get as much of the legwork as possible done while you have the support in the office. It will save chaos two days before the hearing or trial.

I am a firm believer in time management and organization. It is how I seem to find time for “one more thing”—no matter how busy I am. The summer slowdown gives law firms several months in which to accomplish many things, as long as you have an agenda, are organized, and stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

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