Making it easier to grow your law firm


This section covers succession, specialisation, mergers, selling a law firm, becoming a partner, and business structure

How to plan and execute the process of starting up a new legal practice that is compliant and financially healthy

How to set up your firm’s systems to provide the information that enables you to improve profitability and cashflow

How to avoid professional negligence claims, with examples of common problems and suggested solutions. Plus FAQs on PII

This section only covers SRA Accounts Rules and GDPR at the moment. Compliance for start-ups is covered in the Starting up...

How to protect your law firm from cyber attacks. What steps to take if your systems are hacked

How to recruit and retain a team that is both happy and highly effective, dealing with the HR issues along the way

In marketing, like anything, you need to get the basics right. Otherwise the time and money you invest in marketing will be wasted

How to win new clients, make the most of existing relationships, encourage referrals and generate new leads

How to approach creating a law firm website that works, from agreeing your objectives to making sure you get the results you want

Why lawyers need to know about social media, how to make the most of the opportunities and how to avoid potential pitfalls

How to use PR to build your firm’s reputation; and how to create cost-effective advertising – traditional and online – that delivers results

Why don't lawyers do what you ask them to do?

Simon McCrum
Simon McCrum
of McCrum Consulting looks at why policies and procedures are not followed in many law firms. (4 February 2019)

Having been team leader, department head, division head, and Managing Partner, I understand well the frustration (and anger) that Managing Partners and CEO’s voice to me. “We’ve asked them a dozen times, but still they aren’t doing what we need!” is the way the conversation usually goes.

Problem areas

What is it that they’re not doing? There’s a long list:

  • Not recording all the time they spend on client files
  • Not sending out the retainer letter at the outset
  • Not defining the retainer in sufficient detail
  • Not getting money on account
  • Not closing files
  • Not getting client ID
  • Not ascertaining precisely who or what the client is
  • Not recording all requisite info on the system or on the file
  • Not identifying the source of the work (for the Marketing team)
  • Not chasing their own bills
  • Not doing transfers to pay bills or to pay disbursements

The list goes on, and it builds up to a scenario in our profession where in very many firms, highly-paid and very clever lawyers don’t do what the business needs them to do.

Underlying reasons

Why aren’t policies and procedures followed? I believe the start of the answer is that very often chief amongst the culprits are the partners themselves. If they don’t follow the rules, then they’re not rules, are they?

Next, what sanctions are there for not adhering to the rules? None, usually. Someone who does good billing for example can be excused a dozen behavioural shortcomings, and very often a lawyer’s reward and progress up the firm is based solely on their billing. So, what will everyone focus on at the expense of everything else?

Actions to take

There is no ‘silver bullet’ that can change things overnight. But there are ways that you can reduce this recalcitrance, including the following steps:

  1. Make it an absolute rule for the partners to adhere to policies – if they don’t, the whole thing is shot. Such are the benefits for the business of getting everyone adhering to your policies, that you can and should take a hard line here in bringing in a non-negotiable approach from the top tier in the firm.
  2. The things you are asking everyone to do are ultimately for the benefit of the whole – in a team culture the whole team has to play to the rules, and un-team-like behaviours ought to be addressed.
  3. Make adherence to detailed policies and practises part of your appraisal, reward, and promotion criteria. This is the ‘carrot’ part. If some people are doing things right and others are doing things wrong but getting away with it, it undermines any team culture you are trying to develop – let everyone know that to get in and to stay in your team, you have to adhere to team rules.
  4. Ultimately, you should have a ‘stick’ part too. Bad behaviours damage the business. They drive your Business Support teams round the bend and detract them from the positive things they could be doing for your business. Given a fair chance to understand the policies and why they’re there, someone who continues to disregard them – whatever their level in the firm – means that you will forever be driving with a handbrake on.

In short, everyone’s got a boss – and the boss is the business and its needs.


(This blog was originally published on Katchr.)

You may also enjoy reading Nicola Jones’s article How to retain and motivate key talent.