While making resolutions for the new year consider making some resolutions for your practice as well. Here are some suggestions:
Resolve to finally get around to creating that office procedure manual. A good office procedure manual will document all your office policies and procedures and serve as a resource to locate information that is critical to keep your business up and running, like computer passwords and vendor contact information.
Resolve to conduct a cyber security audit.
- Make sure that your anti-virus software and all other software on devices used in the practice are up to date.
- Make sure all lawyers and non-lawyer staff have had adequate training to identify cyber threats and protect against them.
- Check your back-ups. Make sure you are following the 3-2-1 formula and know how to access the back-up if necessary.
- Take a look at your Incident Response Plan to identify where updates are needed.
Recommit to good client communication.
- Confirm that every client file contains a fee agreement.
- Calendar reminders to send each client a monthly status letter.
- Create a file closing checklist that includes sending a file closing letter and client survey.
Resolve to rid yourself of problem clients. Promptly address any issues with non-payment and advise clients who have not paid that the failure to fulfill financial obligations will result in your withdrawal—and follow through.
Re-establish good IOLTA accounting practices.
- Reconcile the account every month. Do not rely solely on your staff to conduct these reconciliations. Checks and balances are important.
- Look for any unclaimed funds.
- Make sure that the IOLTA contains no more than the limited amount of personal funds necessary to cover bank charges. The Ohio Disciplinary Counsel advises that, “On average a lawyer should not have more than $100 of personal funds in the lawyer’s IOLTA unless the lawyer has documented proof of why the lawyer needs more.”
Pick one resolution or tackle them all. No matter where you start, your practice will benefit.