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Author: Shawn McNalis

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Even before the Covid-19 crisis sent us all into lockdown and law firms became virtual overnight, studies showed that most people in the workplace spent 28% of their day dealing with unnecessary interruptions of all kinds. Some were self-generated; some came from co-workers and some originated from a disruptive environment. Now that many of us are working from home, the problem has become worse. Attorneys, paralegals, and team members of all kinds are faced with interruptions at a whole new level as they try to be productive from home. Spouses who are also working from home, kids that must be home-schooled, parents that must be cared for – the situation, especially for working parents, has become almost unmanageable....

Interview with Shawn McNalis, Shareholder, Practice Advisor Trainer, and Curriculum Director at Atticus, on how law firms are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, strategic downsizing, and how they can change their organizations to go from struggling to survive to thriving during an economic downturn. Q: This is a very stressful time for many. The Coronavirus has ground the economy to a halt and created a lot of uncertainty. How are law firms managing the crisis? A: No one is handling this well. How they manage depends on how vulnerable they feel they are. Those who have a large financial cushion, a lot of files in their WIP, and the ability to operate virtually are the most secure, though the unpredictable nature of this crisis has them nervous as well. Firms that have no financial cushion, not a lot of work to do and who struggle to operate virtually are the most vulnerable. They will get help in the form of disaster relief loans, but that is also a confusing process. Q: Many firms are having to make tough, and often emotional calls. Some are considering reducing their operational overhead through layoffs and furloughs. What is the best advice you can give? A: Put the people...

Recent studies show that most people in the workplace spend 28% of their day dealing with unnecessary interruptions of all kinds. Some are self-generated; some come from co-workers and colleagues and some originate from a disruptive environment. No matter where they come from, though, we spend a great deal of time complaining about them. In fact, if you listen to what people say about interruptions you’d believe they were the sole reason for the lack of productivity and focus that is rampant in today's workplace. Of course, what we say about something is often very different from what we do about it. And this very much applies to managing interruptions. If you watch people's behavior, very few people actively resist being interrupted. It could be they don’t know what to say or do to resist being interrupted. Or maybe they don't want to seem inaccessible. Or maybe they don't want to appear out of touch and not monitoring many things at once. The reasons vary, but the fact remains – most of us allow ourselves to be interrupted constantly. And then we complain about it. Loudly. Could it be, that on some subconscious level, we actually like to be interrupted? Yes. New studies confirm...

“Are you the biggest producer in your firm?” we asked. “Absolutely,” the attorney told us with pride. He was a new Atticus client, but this was not a new conversation for us. In fact, it was all too familiar: the owners of most small firms are typically the firm’s largest producers, along with the firm’s biggest marketers. Then they wedge the firm’s many management tasks into any time that’s left – meaning they don’t have much of a personal life. And the fact that they are not well leveraged means they aren’t producing much of a profit either. “How many associates do you have?” we asked. “Two, but they aren’t that productive. In fact, I out bill them both,” he answered – again with a hint of pride. “Do they have daily or weekly billing goals?” “No, but they do have yearly billing goals,” he said. We expected as much. “How effective is that at motivating them?” He paused and said, “Not very good, I guess.” Not very good indeed. In order to train good producers, it’s best to take their large production goals and break them down into small goals, which are reviewed often. Large goals discussed once a year tend to fade away in the minds of...

Referral marketing is a numbers game. If you’re used to keeping your referral base data in your memory, it’s likely you’ve seen its limitations. You probably can recall facts about your clients and referral sources when you visit face to face, but you can’t perform from memory many advanced marketing functions. Contact management software allows you to perform high-level functions easier, faster and in greater numbers. You can track historical data on referral sources and other marketing contacts, generate reports on services performed and future needs identified, and inform clients and referral sources of future events in your office. Research software that is a good fit for your existing storage and record-keeping systems. These can be industry-specific and vary to individual preferences. Mailings You can track mailings to specific groups of existing and past clients for cross-selling and upgrading purposes. Target groups of clients in your database who fit the criteria for other services, such as a small business owner client who needs estate planning and asset protection. Tracking mailings also allow you to see how many referrals have been generated by existing clients over the years. You can track the follow-ups to each referral, such as a thank-you card or phone call. Database features Database features determine...