The Lawyer’s Ultimate Guide to Accountability in the Workplace
Law offices are unique environments that require a special blend of confidentiality and openness with clients.
Accountability Provides a Useful Solution to a Law Firms’ Unique Needs
Lawyers spend the majority of every day working closely with and for clients to solve complex issues, but are also tasked with the foolproof protection of secure information and the timely execution of a myriad of things. The balance of these needs is at the crux of every legal practice.
It is only when individuals feel responsible for upholding key standards of excellent client communication, stringent protection of information, and timely and foolproof execution of tasks that law firms are able to maintain the high quality of work that is expected from lawyers.
But how is this level of responsibility maintained in a law firm? By building a culture of accountability, where each individual lawyer clearly understands the tasks that they are responsible for and that their work is part of a bigger picture that is extremely critical to the success of the firm. Deploying clear monitoring and timely escalation capabilities are a key component to make sure things get done and that nothing falls through the cracks.
But understanding the importance of accountability in the workplace and knowing how to build a culture that emphasizes accountability are two different things. That is where CommandHound comes in.
After working with many law firms to build a culture of accountability backed up by a system that gleans real results from that culture, CommandHound has gathered the most current:
- Research by experts in professional productivity and accountability
- Analysis of this research
- Case studies of companies that have used accountability to improve key metrics
- Experiences from CommandHound clients
In order to fully understand the scope of the problem and suggest effective changes to make accountability central to your law firm, read on to find out more!
Want to download the Lawyer’s Ultimate Guide to Accountability in the Workplace to read later?
Why Accountability Is Important For Law Firms
There are three main reasons that accountability is important for lawyers.
- The first is security. The daily operations of a law office involve constant management of secure and private information. In order to develop a tight lid on information security, individual lawyers must first believe and buy into a general culture of confidentiality, and then the law office must enforce a culture of accountability at the individual level to make it real.
Accountability Helps Minimize Security Concerns
- The second main reason that accountability is important for lawyers is reputation. Lawyers operate in a professional world where reputation is key to acquiring and maintaining clients, as well as working with fellow lawyers. Establishing a reputation for client confidentiality, responsibly meeting deadlines, and managing client needs is crucial in any law office.
- Finally, accountability is crucial for law firms because it helps manage stress. Few professional offices have to deal with as many moving pieces as law firms. Trying to keep track of client needs, deadlines, new business, internal projects can stress out any lawyer. Accountability systems like CommandHound have been proven to decrease stress by managing tasks at a steady rate over time and by developing a sense that nothing is being forgotten.
Teams Work Better When They Use Accountability To Minimize Stress
With these three factors in mind, it is easy to see why law firms must take accountability seriously. Managing individual and corporate reputation, maintaining a firm security perimeter, and keeping low levels of stress around the office can all be mitigated with a healthy culture of accountability.
But how is an accountability culture actually built in a law firm? It takes the perfect combination of factors. CommandHound is here to help.
How To Build Accountability: Culture Change
It will come as no surprise that building a culture of accountability may require changing a deeply ingrained company culture that lets deadlines and tasks slip. Changing this culture means clear communication of expectations and keeping track of who is doing what.
Culture is Crucial for Accountability Building
CommandHound has worked with many law firms to lay out the necessary steps to begin the culture change needed to develop office accountability. Here are the 3 tips that prove crucial to law firm transformation:
- Define Expectations and Hold Associates and Partners Accountable
- Communicate clear goals, expectations and timeframes for deliverables.
- Each attorney or staff member should know which deliverables he or she is accountable for, as well as the accountabilities of other team members.
- Transparency of tasks and who is in charge of them will minimize delayed hand offs in the workflow.
- Escalate when necessary to ensure timely completion.
- Trust Your Team
- Resist the temptation to micro-manage.
- Associates will thrive when given the freedom to reach clearly defined goals as they see fit.
- Partners can keep track of whether milestones are being met as expected and on time and by whom.
- Each attorney, paralegal, or staff member must know that he or she will be held accountable for what has been assigned to them.
- Younger employees tend to feel more loyalty to a person (mentor or partner) than a firm, which affects how they should be motivated and retained.
- Partners can earn loyalty by teaching, providing growth opportunities, setting up mutual expectations for success, and by giving feedback on a regular basis.
- Base feedback on facts and data. Has the associate met goals as expected and on time? For this, you must track execution performance at the individual level.
By clearly defining expectations and goals, trusting team members to meet their goals and finish their tasks, and giving clear feedback to help team members improve, law firms are able to quickly and effectively change their company cultures to focus more directly on accountability.
Once accountability is central, stress will decrease, information will remain secure, and the law firm’s reputation for professionalism will only increase.
Law Firms Work Better When Accountability is Central
How To Build Accountability: Technology Tools
Many law firms realize that changing culture is key to increasing accountability and improving results, but few organizations have the resources to make these changes happen. Even if you know what you need to do, sometimes you just don’t have the company support or buy-in from partners that is necessary to make real changes. This is where software can come in and serve as a proxy for culture change, providing the same benefits with less work and organization restructuring.
Some general productivity tools provide a helpful starting-point in increasing transparency and accountability at law firms. Check out CommandHound’s guide to the top 5 productivity apps for lawyers:
The Top 5 Productivity Apps for Lawyers
Often, productivity apps are not enough. To manage all of the specific needs of law offices, many companies have worked to develop specific apps that manage cases. These case management solutions compile all client information, time documentation, document management, and billing into one system. Want to learn which case management systems work best? Read CommandHound’s ranked list:
These apps focus attention, improve communication, and increase efficiency so that basic tasks and client needs are addressed when they need to be.
The Top 5 Case Management Software Solutions
Software Solutions Can Help Quickly Build a Culture of Accountability
This is where a system like CommandHound truly delivers what law firms need. CommandHound’s driving goal is to provide the best accountability software, in order to increase the likelihood that things will get done as expected. CommandHound achieves this by focusing on tracking individual performance as lawyers complete critical project activities such as milestones, critical path tasks, filings, etc.
For law firms, this means that each client can have their own case, and the tasks within those cases will be assigned to individual lawyers to address. The deadlines on those tasks serve as a guideline to keep projects on track. But these systems stop here. If a deadline is passed or ignored, there are no repercussions and no accountability, meaning that projects can still be easily derailed.
CommandHound’s Easy-to-Use Software Provides Law Firms with an Accountability Solution
Most project or task management software systems do not enforce a deeply-ingrained sense of accountability, since they track tasks and their due dates but do not escalate and track completion by individual to tie back to a performance review processes. This means that tasks can languish in purgatory if no one finishes them, derailing projects so that no one addresses problems before it is too late.
CommandHound’s system of task tracking monitors due dates unlike any other software, by providing team leaders the opportunity to oversee tasks and team member performance based on completion of the tasks assigned to them. Teams can use CommandHound to make sure that tasks assigned in any project management software are actually completed.
The range of technology solutions available to law firms is always expanding. From simple productivity and communication tools that make it easier to keep notes and client documents centralized, to project management tools that track tasks, all the way to software specifically dedicated to building a culture of accountability, software is providing law firms with the tools necessary to increase internal accountability.
Using Both For Best Results
In the modern age, technology solutions promise to build accountability for firms to increase client satisfaction with reliable quality, but every lawyer has experienced what happens when catch-all technology solutions promise more than they can actually deliver.
Using Technology In Conjunction with Culture Change Provides a Powerful Solution for Law Firms
Without company-wide buy-in for new systems, new technology solutions often take a lot of attention and time to implement without ever really achieving desired goals. But by blending culture change and technology solutions, law firms have the potential to build a culture of accountability quickly, painlessly, and with the highest potential for impact.
At CommandHound, we realize that successful software implementation is always accompanied by culture change, which is why we work with our clients to implement change on an organization-wide level. CommandHound’s Premium and Enterprise plans provide clients with on-going support and in-depth integration services to help with the incorporation of an accountability-driven culture into their operations.
When a law firm wants to improve performance through accountability and to keep projects on track, these two plans not only provide the software platform to do so, but also give access to experts who can help manage the cultural change required.
CommandHound’s Change Management Solution Makes Sure That Accountability Sticks
Changing entrenched company processes is difficult to do, and resistance to this change slows adoption and diminishes ROI. Changing a law office’s culture is even harder.
By removing resistance and priming for culture change before adopting a new software solution, your law firm should be able to implement an accountability culture with few roadblocks. This is why building accountability is best done with both software and change management solutions.
If your law firm is interested in building an accountability culture to decrease stress, ensure things get done, improve reputation, and keep client information secure, a system like CommandHound will provide you with both the software and the implementation plan necessary to secure maximum benefit.
Learn more about CommandHound by requesting a demo or signing up for a free account today.