Systematizing your work is the key to a smoother-running, more enjoyable law practice.
Lawyers know they need systems in theory, but in practice they have trouble creating them.
Once you understand the vital keys to creating effective systems, you’ll avoid problems and make steady progress towards a much better law practice.
So, let’s examine how you can make that happen.
1. Notice patterns
In a general sense, every law practice operates according to predictable patterns. But some attorneys examine their workflow patterns and optimize their workflows in ways that, over time, lead to big improvements.
If you want to improve your practice, the first step is to look for recurring patterns. Look for them in the work you do. And then look for them in the work that others in your law firm do.
If you don’t look for patterns, you won’t see them. Or if you’re focused too much on doing the work, you’ll also miss some obvious things that are part of the work patterns.
So, step one is learning to pay closer attention to how your law work is done.
2. Document what you notice
As you pay closer attention to the common workflows, you’ll want to write down what you observe. Noticing patterns and remembering them isn’t enough.
You need to get the patterns out of your head. You need to put them into a document that you can refer to.
Once you do that, you’ll be able to give clearer direction to others who work with you. With clear, written instructions, they’ll be able to do the work exactly the way you want it done.
Think of documenting workflows as creating recipes in the same way a chef creates recipes for how to cook food.
3. Refine the workflows
A good chef will keep refining their recipes over time. You should do the same with your workflows.
As you document and refine workflows, you’ll improve your process for documenting and refining. Maybe you’ll realize that you need to go beyond pen and paper (you probably will).
Perhaps you’ll decide to use a tool specifically created to organize your documentation (you should). If so, you’ll want the tool to be cloud-based so you can easily share your documented procedures with anyone, including virtual assistants.
Assigning your documented workflows is the best way to refine the documentation and improve the workflows over time.
Here’s an easy-to-remember mantra (because it rhymes)…
4. Assign to refine
When you assign your documented workflows to others, you’ll discover not everyone can follow your instructions.
You’ll find out they’re confused by things you take for granted. This is unfortunate, but to be expected.
And, thankfully, it’s a small problem that’s easy to fix (because you’ve written the workflows down).
Just edit the workflow documentation to make the instructions clearer. Voila. You’ve now made an improvement to your practice that’s locked in.
The more improvements you lock in by using written documentation, the greater freedom from drudgery you’ll experience.
Eventually, you’ll be doing only the work that you most enjoy doing.
5. Do more thinking
Most lawyers don’t think much about how their work gets done. They just do the first thing, and then move on to the next task.
So don’t act like most lawyers. Train yourself to think more closely about your key workflows, and keep working to refine them steadily over time.
And then, over time, your practice will steadily improve and become more enjoyable and easier to manage.
Now you know exactly what’s needed to systematize your practice effectively. And you’ll be paying closer attention to how all your work is done.
You now know how to help others do the work exactly the way you want it done (using the ideal tool).