10 Signs You Need to Improve Law Firm Performance Management

Published on June 23, 2021
11 minute read
<a href=''>Sarah Bottorff</a>
Written by Sarah Bottorff

Effectively managing your law firm's performance is an essential part of keeping everything on track. Keeping score of how everything is going, from your client intake process to your employee productivity, is the only way to stay on top of anything that needs improvements.

Implementing an effective law firm performance management system can be one of the best things you do to address problems and smash the competition, and yet, many law firms don't even know where to get started.

Many fail to recognize the early warning signs that their law firm is operating in the dark and could benefit from having a clear picture of where the holes are in their processes.

So, what exactly does performance management entail? Law firm performance management is all about a data-driven approach that involves regularly running reports that follow targets and objectives. Any areas that can use improvement are red-flagged, and problems get addressed immediately.

At first, the idea of data and practicing law hardly seemed to go hand in hand, yet, the most successful law firms understand the importance of data and metrics in order to identify problem areas and increase revenue. Tracking important metrics can give you total control over where you stand as a law firm and fix anything that's broken.

Running data reports can help you track critical metrics in your law firm, like how many lead-to-client conversions you've had over a certain time period and whether your marketing investments are paying off as much as you'd like them to. When you have an overall picture of where your law firm currently stands compared to how you'd like it to be, it's easier to set realistic goals and stay accountable for reaching them.

Advantages of tracking your law firm's data

Better planning

Data is your best friend when it comes to planning for the uncertainty of the future. With a total overview of past patterns in your practice, you'll be able to make better predictions based on actual data. For example, if you notice that in the past, certain marketing techniques have performed quite well, you know that you can invest more in those marketing sources in the future. It can also help you financially plan for specific times of the year which have been less profitable in the past.

There will always be challenges that come up in growing your law firm, and analyzing patterns can help you anticipate problem areas before they even arrive. Although data can't stop challenges from arising, you'll be better prepared for them since you'll be armed with anticipation.

Improved clarity

A lot of law firms aren't producing the kind of numbers that they like to see, yet they aren't sure where things are going wrong. After all, it's not always easy to identify all the problem areas in your practice when there are so many moving parts.

However, running data reports can help you pinpoint what's causing the bottlenecks in your processes and how you compare to other law firms in your area. With greater clarity comes a better chance of making improvements where you'd like to see them— because without data, addressing problems is just guesswork.

More control over your time

The most efficient law firms know that time is their greatest asset because, after all, time is money. Yet, with so many time-consuming tasks to take care of to keep your law practice running, it's not long before you lose a good portion of your workweek on repetitive administrative tasks instead of actually practicing law.

Yet once you start analyzing your firm's performance, you start to realize where your time is going and where you can make improvements. Many firms are shocked to find that they are much less productive than they could be, and data reveals that rather than wasting so many hours a day on administrative tasks, they could be automating them instead.

Improved client experience

More and more law firms are switching to a service-centered approach that focuses on the best possible client journey. With so many competing law firms focusing heavily on the customer experience, people expect more than ever.

Data can help reveal how happy your customers truly are and whether there are any improvements in your client intake process that you need to make. Key performance indicators like how much repeat business you have and how many referrals you're receiving can be a fantastic indication of whether your clients are receiving as good of an experience as they should be.

10 signs that you need to improve your law firm performance management

1You have no idea where your time is going

Regardless of whether you're a solo practitioner or a large firm, there is a tremendous amount of administrative work that goes into keeping things running. Statistics reveal that most lawyers spend over half of their work on administrative tasks like sending out emails and generating important documents.

Since these administrative tasks are critical for keeping your law firm going, opting out of doing them isn't an option. Because these things need to get done, many lawyers are forced to make the impossible choice between tending to their clients and catching up on important administrative duties.

One of the biggest complaints that people have about their lawyers is a lack of communication. So, if you find yourself struggling to get back to clients, then you need to take control of your schedule. Putting your clients on the back burner detracts from the client experience and doesn't encourage repeat business.

You'll need to take control of how you spend your time so that you can map out what hours you can devote to serving clients and how you can speed up administrative tasks.

If you have no idea where the majority of your workday is going, it's impossible to make improvements. However, once you have an idea of exactly how much of your workday is going towards what tasks, you can start implementing better, faster, and more effective methods like automated email workflows for law firms and automate menial tasks so you can focus on what matters most— your clients.

2You don't know where you're headed

How can you expect to make improvements if you don't even know what you want to improve on? It may seem obvious that you need goals in order to succeed; however, you'd be surprised how many firms are lacking clear goals.

Your law firm should know the following at all times:

What are your long-term goals?

What are your short-term goals?

What do you need to get there?

How close are you to reaching these goals?

The more specific that you can be with your goals, the more that you can make improvements. The more general your goals are, the more general your results will be.

By pinpointing precisely what you need and how you need to get there, you'll be much more likely to grow and expand your practice by staying accountable for where you stand.

3Hardly any referrals

When people have a great experience with your law firm, they are likely to tell their friends and family about it. If someone they know is looking for legal counsel, and they have a great law firm they've worked with before, it's only natural to refer them there.

Statistics show that over 40% of legal clients find their lawyer through asking friends and family before doing a search online.

If your law firm hardly has any referrals, then it's a pretty strong indication that you're not delivering a great client experience. The reality is that your job as an attorney is much more than just practicing law. You should also be focused on delivering the best possible service to your client.

Believe it or not, many clients are still delighted with their lawyers even though they don’t get them the most favorable results on their case. A positive client experience goes beyond what happens in the courtroom. By delivering a client-centered experience from start to finish, you'll produce happy clients and plenty of referrals.

In the absence of a high referral rate, it's time to start improving your law firm performance management so you can identify the problem areas that need improvement.

4Not generating enough revenue

Most lawyers can agree that one of their most important goals is profits. Even though you may be passionate about practicing law, ultimately, you're there to make a living. Without revenue, your law firm won't last very long, so if your revenue is struggling, it's a clear indication that you need to find where the holes are in your practice.

Looking at your numbers through data and analytics can help you adjust where needed and get your numbers up to where they need to be.

5Lack of marketing insights

Investing your money in marketing isn't worth much unless you know it's giving you the results you're paying for. The only way to ensure that you're getting the most value for your marketing dollars is to track its results. A strong marketing strategy requires data and analytics to tell you where your best leads are coming from and why.

By measuring your marketing efforts and implementing modern marketing tools like marketing automation for law firms and audience segmentation software, you can increase your law firm's marketing performance and see a greater return on your investment. Until you do that, it's impossible to effectively market your firm.

6You're overcomplicating things

In an attempt to try and be as efficient as possible, many law firms implement systems that have far too many steps in them and eat up a large portion of their time. Between multiple spreadsheets, manual scheduling, and entering incoming leads information, many law firms find themselves stretched out in different directions throughout the day.

However, these processes could be significantly simplified by implementing the right technology like attorney intake software.

With the right law firm performance management software, you'll see where your time is going and that you're overcomplicating things by wasting your time on manual processes. It's as simple as running reports through your law firm CRM where you can closely monitor where your time is going and how well each of your staff members is performing.

Data usually reveals that you're wasting significant energy on manual processes that could be automated.

7Lack of shared vision across staff

Without an effective performance law firm management strategy in place, it's hard to make sure that your entire staff is on the same page. The only way to ensure that your goals are shared with the rest of your team is to get everyone on board by setting specific goals. Once you have defined goals in place, you can measure them regularly and ensure that your team is doing its part to achieve your objectives.

Measuring the right KPIs regularly will help ensure that everyone is doing their part on an overall and individual level. Simply put, unless everyone on your team is on board, then you'll never reach your goals.

8Bottlenecks in your processes

From sending out emails to setting appointments with clients, there are plenty of time-consuming tasks that take up a lawyer's day. Without a streamlined process in place, you're robbing your clients of the attention they deserve by focusing so much time on areas of your practice that could be automated.

Tools like automated email workflows for law firms get rid of tedious and repetitive tasks that eat up your day and create bottlenecks in your efficiency.

A consistent system with repeatable processes is the key to success for your practice. Collecting data through a performance management system can help gain the insight necessary to put your firm on autopilot and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

9You don't have a solid client intake
process in place

An inefficient client intake process fails in many areas, but perhaps the most critical is failing to track leads reliably. Outdated client intake processes aren't just time-consuming, but there's also a huge possibility of error. Your law firm should know exactly how many inquiries are coming in at a time and which prospects have already been followed up with. Otherwise, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your practice and scale your firm.

Without a reliable law firm performance management software, you may not even realize how many missed opportunities there are and how many leads are getting lost in the process. Automating your client intake process with attorney intake software like Lawmatics can save you hours spent on repetitive tasks, win more clients, and get the ball rolling much faster on your cases.

10Your law firm is chaotic

It's no secret that law firms are bustling places. There's always a telephone ringing somewhere, a printer spewing out lengthy documents, and clients coming in and out of consultations. It's safe to say that even the most efficient law firms have a lot going on. However, there are some law firms that are just plain chaotic. Everyone feels confused, clients are frustrated, and there's no consistent system in place for everything from marketing to onboarding clients.

Without tracking your performance, it may be difficult to know where to start in getting rid of the chaos in your law firm. By running reports with legal reporting software, you can pinpoint where the errors are and where you can save time, in turn restoring order and improving your law firm's performance.

How to use metrics to grow your law firm

Law firm performance management software like Lawmatics is built directly into your legal CRM system and client intake software. It's as simple as running customized reports regularly to track your unique goals and objectives. By observing your firm's data and comparing it to your competitors, you can improve your firm's productivity and stay on top of how well your staff is doing its job on a collective and individual level.

Here are some of the best tips for getting the most out of law firm data analytics to manage your performance.

Set goals using the SMART system

The best way to work with the data that you retrieve from your reports is by establishing what your goals are. Corrective action starts with having your objectives laid out by using the SMART system.

Being SMART gives you greater clarity and more accountability and makes measuring your progress much easier.



The more generic that your goals are, the more limitations that you'll put on yourself. Make sure that you're as specific as possible when laying out your goals, and always include what you'll need to achieve them.



The most effective goals are the ones that can be measured. Unless your goals are quantifiable, it's impossible to know how much progress you're making. Make sure that you can break each one up and take an inventory of how well each one is doing.



Goal tracking for law firms will achieve the most results when you set out to do things that are actually possible. While a healthy disregard for the impossible is admirable, you only wind up getting frustrated shooting for unattainable figures. Create objectives that are challenging yet possible.



Create goals that are relevant to your unique long-term vision. Stay true to your personal brand, and create goals that apply to your area of practice. There's no use tracking metrics that aren't relevant to what your law firm stands for.



Time-bound goals help you stay on top of your progress and provide a deadline to stick to. The more timestamps you have attached to each of your objectives, the more motivated you are to work hard to meet your deadlines.

Measure monthly

To keep your law firm on track, you'll need to measure your results regularly. Once every month is considered consistent enough to catch problems early on and rectify them as soon as possible.

Waiting too long between running reports can allow problem areas to get even worse, so you want to make sure that you stay vigilant. The goal is to run reports consistently so that you identify holes in your practice promptly and take action immediately.

Take action right away

One of the biggest mistakes that law firms make in their law firm performance management is sitting on data and not doing anything with it. Unfortunately, running reports alone isn't enough to see changes in your law firm. Once you run reports and identify problem areas in your processes, you need to take action immediately.

Your legal reporting software will tell you exactly where the problem areas are, which you should jump on as soon as possible. Although change can be uncomfortable, it's the only way to stay ahead of the competition and ensure that your law firm is making the most out of its time.

Take control of your law firm's performance by analyzing the bigger picture with Lawmatics

Many law firms aren't performing as well as they would like to be but aren't sure where to get started on how to rectify the problem. With law firm reporting software, you can gather all of the information that you need to gain better insight into where the problem areas are at your firm and what changes you need to make.

With a reliable performance management software set in place, you can monitor important metrics like how many leads your law firm is generating and how much revenue you're bringing in compared to how much time you're putting out.

Getting organized and making improvements that your law firm starts with a legal practice management software like Lawmatics. With greater insight into your law firm's performance, you can implement tools that improve the client experience and restore order to your practice.

From legal document automation to automated appointment scheduling, to offering a client e-signature tool, automating your client intake process can help you transform the way that you run your law firm. Key metrics give you the insight you need to perfect your law firm's objectives and run your processes on autopilot, so you can focus on what you do best— practice law.

Are you ready to see how Lawmatics reporting and insights software can help you improve your law firm performance management? Sign up for a free demo today!

Sarah Bottorff

Sarah is the Head of Growth at Lawmatics, the #1 attorney-client relationship management platform that provides law firms with client intake, CRM, and marketing automation. She has over 18 years of marketing and sales experience and has a proven track record of building brands and driving growth at companies like MyCase, Smokeball, CJ Affiliate, Johnson & Johnson, and FastSpring.
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