Our firm is a personal injury plaintiff firm in Topeka, KS. Until two years ago we had two attorneys (both partners) and two support staff members. In early 2012 we added an associate attorney, increased our marketing investment, moved our offices and took on additional space, added five additional support staff members, and implemented a case management system. We currently have 500 open cases – up from 200 cases 2+ years ago. Revenues are up – but the two partners are each taking home $40,000 less than they were before the expansion. Our home grown office manager manages and runs the office. What should we be doing differently?
My first thought is that your revenues have not caught up with the overhead and the growth investments that you have made. (You should review your reports and verify this) Personal injury cases have a much longer revenue lag than does work that gets "time-billed" monthly. Some cases may be in progress for two years or so. So be patient but don't be complacent.
You do need to be proactive in managing your case pipeline and your team. Someone needs to mind and manage the store. You are a larger firm now and you can't assume that your team is working to maximum effectiveness and efficiency. Insure that you actually need all of these people and that people are working smart. Roles for each member of the team should be created and performance standards and expectations established. Goals (cases) should be created for each team member, metrics and measurements established, standard reports created – generated – and used, and team members held accountable for results. Use the reports that the new case management system provides to measure goal accomplishment and performance.
Evaluate whether your office manager has the leadership skills that the firm now requires.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC