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MANAGING THE OFFICE

TO-Dos: Your October office checklist

It’s that time of year when law firm administrators must start planning how to invest their resources to meet next year’s expectations. And the only way to do that is with a realistic budget. Here are some tasks you can address this month to help you get a sense of where the firm’s at now, so that you can realistically plan for where you want it to go.

  • Assemble your 2018 budget team now so you can get your 2018 budget done and approved before December 31.
  • Run the P&Ls for the firm through the 3rd quarter. This will give you an idea of where you are on your budget for the year and make tweaks before year’s end to help you stay on track.
  • If Christmas or year-end bonuses are performance-based, start evaluating what the budget will be for those bonuses based on performance through the 3rd quarter.
  • Review timekeeper billables for the year through the 3rd quarter and compare quotas to reality. Are timekeepers meeting the firm’s expectations? If not, now is a good time to have a meeting to discuss the shortfall. Sometimes it’s something as simple as forgetting to bill for travel time, etc..
  • Schedule some coffee talks for attorneys and staff to debrief on completed and open matters. Take a look at what worked, what didn’t work, lessons learned, etc. Be sure someone transcribes the discussion.
  • Mind the little things. Identify all those little expenses that, added together, can represent a significant portion of the budget—things many people don’t even notice, such as plants, extravagant office supplies, and excessive food purchased for meetings. Look at what the office actually needs from a business standpoint, and eliminate the questionable expenses. Chances are you’ll save more than a few pennies.
  • Review the contract and subscription terms for your legal information resources. Consider engaging a law librarian consultant to evaluate your needs.
  • Continue to track the conversion success of your marketing dollars. Determine whether your marketing plan is generating sufficient income to justify the expense. If not, reapportion marketing dollars where they are generating the best return.
  • And remember the fun stuff! If your firm has an annual Christmas/holiday party, now is the time to look at the budget for this event and start making calls to check prices and availability. It’s better to decide on this early so you can get the place you really want.

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