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MANAGING THE OFFICE

To-Dos: Your September office checklist

Now that the summer is over and you’re facing the final quarter, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here are some important tasks you need to address now to ensure that you finish the year strong and are realistically prepared for next year.

1. Plan your staffing
Start thinking about your staffing requirements for the coming year. Will you be adding another associate or support staff based upon the forward sustainability of any new business? Or has there been a slow-down in the last nine months that looks like it may be permanent? If so, you might consider “right sizing” the firm or reassigning job descriptions so everyone has enough work and billable time to be productive. If it looks like there will have to be a right sizing, choose your timing and don’t wait until the holidays to do it.

2. Remember your summer staff
Review the work of any summer interns or clerks that you had working at the firm over the summer. If you are in a position to add to your staff, consider offering an intern or clerk a position. The benefit here is that they are already familiar with the staff, clients, and office procedures, reducing the learning curve.

3. Prepare your draft budget
At the end of the third quarter, the expenses for the year have pretty much become routine, with the exception of year-end bonuses. So now is a good time to prepare a draft budget. You can add or delete items as you progress through the end of the year.

4. Review your marketing
Review what you have spent on your marketing budget for the first three quarters of the year and closely scrutinize the conversion of potentials to actual clients. If some part of your marketing plan is working better than another, consider moving around budgeting dollars for the coming year for a better ROI.

5. Contact clients
Did work from clients slow down over the summer months? Reach out to clients with a letter or an email mentioning that you hope they had a good summer and enjoyed the time off, and reminding them that the firm is ready to help them with their legal needs. It’s a good idea to list the firm’s services, especially if any new practice areas have been added within the last year or so.

6. Contact referring attorneys
If any part of your business relies on referrals from other attorneys, reach out to them as well. Send a letter thanking them for the working relationship you’ve had with them. Outline what the firm does and state that you are ready to help any business that they refer to you. Be sure to list any referral fee that you pay—just to remind them that your relationship also means money to them.

7. Prepare for emergencies
Do you have a plan in place to keep your operations running in the event of a power loss or crisis? How will you rebuild the firm if your employees are unable to report to work after a major disaster? A business continuity plan is essential for a successful and resilient business. September is National Preparedness Month and is a good time to ensure that your firm and your employees are ready and prepared for the unexpected.

Share your best practices with your colleagues: What tasks do you tackle in September? Send your tips and ideas to catherine@plainlanguagemedia.com.


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