Most law firms have no idea how much of their profits are eaten up by inefficiencies in their workflow. They may be wasting significant amounts of time and money without even knowing it, according to Dave Maxfield, co-host of The Lean Law Firm Podcast and author of the ABA best-selling book The Lean Law Firm: Run Your Firm Like the World's Most Profitable and Efficient Businesses.
- Administrative bottlenecks cost time and money
- Cases take too long to process
- Nobody knows the status of any given case
- Meetings eat up too much valuable time
- Work is represented visually and is easier to process
- Mirroring creates personal to-do boards for staff
- Next tasks are always clearly visible
- Overall efficiency increases by up to 30%
- Cases process faster, saving money
- Everyone knows the status of every case, all the time
- Meetings are shorter and more productive
Major bottlenecks in the workflow.
Just like a car manufacturer takes a lump of steel and puts it through a process that produces a car and earns a profit, law firms are essentially doing the same thing. In our case, the raw material consists of people with legal problems. We put their cases through a process and out the other side comes solutions and income. If you can make that process flow as quickly, efficiently and error-free as possible, you're going to make more money.
The longer it takes to move the case through the entire process, from beginning to end, the less profitable it is for the law firm.
If I have a case that I can settle for a thousand dollars in two months, that's a lot less valuable than a case that I can settle for a thousand dollars in two days.
Unfortunately, most law firms don't know how to streamline their processes and become more efficient.
They just keep doing what they've always done, or they do things based on tradition.
Perhaps surprisingly, the costliest workflow problems actually happen after a case is finished.
One of the biggest problems for law firms comes after you've settled a case. You've mentally crossed it off your list, but there are still things that need to get done at the end. You have to close those things out as quickly as you can once you've made the deal. Every day you don't, it costs money.
The second biggest efficiency bottleneck happens at the beginning of the case.
Every day that the case is still pending, you're costing yourself money.
Then there's the hidden loss of efficiency that occurs every time someone checks on the status of a case.
At most firms, the only way to find out what's going on with a case is to ask. If somebody takes a call about a case, they have to send an email to the person they report to that says, Joe Smith called and wants to know where his case is and what's going on. That's a highly inefficient use of everyone's time.
All of these inefficiencies rob valuable time away from actually doing the work. But one of the worst offenders is the time-wasting weekly meeting.
Everybody in the firm sits at the big table and the person running it says, Joe Smith versus Costco, what's going on with that one? And then you go on to the next case, and the next. If there are 80 or 90 of them, it will take three hours.
The good news is that you can minimize those bottlenecks to make your law firm much more productive. The fastest way to do that is to create a visual representation of the actual workflow in real time.
If you can see where the bottlenecks are, you'll see where the problems are. And that's where the opportunities are. If you can solve those problem areas, that makes your firm much more efficient and profitable.
The right technology to maximize efficiency.
As an efficiency expert with his own boutique consumer protection practice in South Carolina, Maxfield is constantly looking for ways to boost productivity.
The key to making his own law firm more efficient depended on finding the right technology. He needed something that would give him a visual representation of his cases in real time, so he could see where the bottlenecks were forming.
I started using Trello to visualize things in different ways, which is fine. But I would still have to tell my paralegals, you do this and you do that. You can accomplish a lot in Trello with different add-ins, but it becomes sort of a patchwork and at some point turns into a Frankenstein. I went looking for something with a little bit more built-in capability.
He tried several other similar products, but found them clunky and awkward to use.
The user interfaces weren't that great. They just didn't look good, and if something looks unattractive, you won't spend time using it. But more than that, all of the complexity was right there on the surface, and they just looked difficult to deal with.
Then he heard about Rindle.
I have some geeky friends who are also lawyers. A friend of mine told me about Rindle. I hadn't seen it before. I was kind of skeptical about it because of everything else I'd tried so far. I just wanted everything to work a certain way.
What caught Maxfield's attention was the ability to customize Rindle to perfectly suit his business.
Once I saw how the automation was built into it, I realized this is what we need to be using. It's elegant and seamless. It looks simple on the outside, but it's a very capable product.
He decided to meet with Brian Faust, the creator of Rindle.
Brian was really good at taking the time to figure out what I wanted and what our business looks like, and he made everything fit. It's very customizable. Another lawyer or even somebody in another industry might want something different. You can customize Rindle any way you want it. Every business takes something, processes it and gets something out of it. You take a call, you schedule the work, you do the work, you send the bill, and you put money in the bank. You can visually represent just about any kind of business process in Rindle.
Up to 30% more efficiency right out of the box
One of the ingenious features of Rindle is called mirroring, which breaks down the big picture into more-manageable personal boards for each employee.
We have this one main board with all of our cases on it, everything in our system, beginning to end, from start to finish. That's a lot to focus on for an employee.
They shouldn't have to constantly think about the big picture. They just need to know what to do next.
When I assign something to them, it appears on their individual board and shows everything they have to do this week. What's the next thing? They can just pull one card, work on that, and finish it.
There's a huge time waste hidden in most businesses. People, especially at the executive level, are always asking: Well, I finished that, what should I be doing now? Rindle removes that slippage of time from the equation because now you always know.
A system that visually represents all of the work being done in your business gives you the power to see the big picture. It allows your eyes to take in far more information than they would from a linear list. That yields huge productivity gains.
You want to know where this case is? Look at the board. Here's where it is, here's what's going on, here's what's coming next. In real time. It instantly minimizes the number of calls and meetings, because everybody can see what's going on. You spend your time actually working instead of talking about working.
From somebody going from not doing this at all, to using Rindle, I'd say you're probably 30% more efficient. That is an absolutely subjective guess. But there is a tremendous difference when you start to think of things systematically. Having done this for several years, I know that it makes a giant difference. It's game-changing in terms of efficiency.
In business, the question is always 'What's the highest and best use of my time right now?' Rindle answers that question for you, so you don't have to spend time thinking about it.
You've got everything in one place. You've got communication, you've got a visual representation of your entire system, and you've got clear instructions as to who's doing what and when. And it's all maintained within a unified system. That's Rindle.
Overall, it's an impressive return on investment, Maxfield says. He would recommend Rindle immediately.
It's very fairly priced and competitive. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody. I think it will make life easier and make your practice more pleasant. It's been great for us and I think it's going to really continue to pay dividends. Rindle is a fantastic product.