Defining it is up to you!
Inspirational author Dr. Orison Swett Marden, who wrote about achieving success in life said the following –
“It is psychological law that whatever we desire to accomplish we must impress upon the subjective or subconscious mind.”
And there is a lot of truth in that statement.
The things that we find the most attractive, the things that define who we are, the things that define our lives, our beliefs and our opinions, the things that grab our attention and set our objectives – are personal to us. They belong in our subconscious. And they are defined by the things that are, by their very nature, subjective.
Both in our personal lives and in our professional ones.
Practice management, by virtue of the reasoning above, would therefore form a part of the things that attract us the most, the things that are subjective to who we are and therefore how we conduct ourselves in our professional lives. And by extension, would also dictate how we both experience and therefore define practice management.
It’s kind of a stretch, it would seem. At least on the face of it. But we can back up our statement.
Allow us to explain why.
Practice management is by its very nature, subjective
Understanding practice management (as we have said before) will differ from law firm to law firm. Why do we say that? Well, with the changing nature of work (due to technological advances, innovation, globalisation, work-from-home to hybrid working environments, and all that those entail), business and the provision of legal advice that goes along with it means that, how a legal practice is managed will differ depending on the work being undertaken, the type of technology being implemented, where your offices are based and how your workers are working (at the office, at home or a bit of both) – to name but a few things. In other words – a multitude of variables.
The management of a legal practice can therefore be seen as an ever-evolving thing – as your practice evolves, changes, and adapts, so will the management of it.
How a conveyancing firm is managed will differ to how a commercial firm is managed. Because how they practice and therefore what is crucial to their particular practice will differ. It is subjective to them.
How a law firm defines what practice management is will therefore depend on their practice. It could amount to automating labour intensive tasks. Perhaps it includes easy access to matter/client information and sophisticated document management and retrieval . Whatever it is that makes up their core practice (and therefore business).
It comes down to each legal professional to understand what practice management means to them specifically.
Decent software solutions, with proper implementation and training will enhance, automate, and optimise an existing set of sound, tried, and tested, business processes and principles. That’s a given. But a law firm needs to know how they want to manage their practice first. Only then can the software solution be deployed and configured to become an effective practice management solution for that specific law firm.
In addition, it is a law firms management teams’ knowledge and experience in running a law firm that will determine the quality of their practice management capabilities. The crucial ‘special ingredient”.
The above is driven home by the quote by the German psychologist and physiologist who established the first laboratory for experimental psychology, Wilhelm Wundt who said –
“The distinguishing characteristics of mind are of a subjective sort; we know them only from the contents of our own consciousness”.
What we want out of life and likewise what we desire in our working life is subjective to us. It exists within our own consciousness. Therefore, it is up to us to define what those parameters are.
Legal technology is not a cure all
Now this may be sort of like shooting ourselves in the foot. BUT, legal technology, no matter how advanced, will not effectively manage your practice. It will not magically resolve any shortcomings in the running of your legal practice. All by its lonesome.
You see, if there is not already a decent understanding of how a successful law firm should be run, a software tool, no matter how sophisticated, will not solve anything.
Let’s put it this way – legal tech requires the practitioner to “solve for x”. In other words – the legal practitioner needs to –
· analyse their legal practice,
· analyse how they practice,
· analyse what field of law they practice in and
· then decide which portions of practice management software will apply to and work for them. Thereby ensuring that they are working optimally and efficiently. Not starting from scratch, without a clue as to how to “manually” run your practice.
You see legal tech is there to optimise and streamline pre-defined manual processes, documents, access to information and business rules in order to promote efficiency and cost effectiveness allowing a legal practitioner to not only effectively manage their practice but also properly practice law.
But legal tech will not solve your inefficiencies if you –
a) don’t know how to manage your business yourself and
b) if you do not know what your inefficiencies actually are.
As learned legal professionals, you have all the requisite skills, knowledge, know how, training, passion, and experience to define practice management in a way that suits you. It is not due to a lack of these things that your practice would not be managed effectively or that your law firm would not be run optimally.
The failure in understanding practice management comes down to not fully grasping that effectively managing your practice comes down to you. Truthfully – the “power” is (and has always been) in your own hands.
Practice management, again, is subjective to your own practice and what is important to your practice. We are repeating ourselves but that is the really, really important bit.
Legal technology is only the icing on a cake that already tastes amazing (or in the legal practice sense – already runs effectively). It is meant to alleviate issues and ensure optimisation. It is not meant to fix your firm or fill in gaps.
Ø You need to already know how to practically (and without the assistance of legal tech) run your business first.
And it is up to each and every legal practitioner to define practice management in a way that makes sense to them and their practice. In a way that encapsulates what they do and how they do it. In a way that incorporates their own wisdom and experience. In a way that defines them.
We would like to emphasise that whilst we are a specialist software house in the legal industry, we are not trying to dictate how a law firm should be run. We are not lawyers. We are legal tech providers. And in that role, our main aim is to assist you and alleviate your workload – make your work lives easier.
But before you do, we urge you to sit down and really think about what your practice does and what it may actually need to run better. Not just run.