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Checklist: Law Practice Management Best Practices In Massachusetts

Best Practice Checklist: Law Practice Management in Massachusetts

Our Best Practice Checklist for Law Practice Management in Massachusetts helps you identify areas to implement best practices in your law firm.

 

The checklist covers key areas of law practice management, including client intake, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, records management, calendaring, marketing, staff management, and more. As you review the questions, note any areas you would like to discuss more thoroughly with a law practice advisor. If you have staff, we recommend that you discuss answers with all your staff to ensure that your actual office procedures are documented.

 

Law Practice Advisor Review

It can be overwhelming to note multiple areas for improvement without a plan to address it. You can schedule a Free & Confidential meeting with a law practice advisor here, and complete the interactive LPM Best Practice Checklist form here. Our Mass LOMAP team will be able to review your answers and help you craft a plan to get in line with best practices.

 

Law Practice Management Checklist Reference Guide

We’ve also published our LPM Best Practice Checklist here in PDF form for general reference convenience. You can bookmark the interactive checklist and print to PDF at any time, but we’ve made edits to improve formatting, specifically section headings broken across pages, and added page numbers. The file is print-ready so you can mark your responses by hand, and digitally with any PDF editor.

 

Law Practice Management Best Practice Preview

Our LPM Best Practice Checklist will guide you through the following topics, asking multiple questions about your current practices in each: Client Intake & Engagement; Fee Agreements; Communications; Conflicts of Interest; Confidentiality; Records Management; Docket / Calendaring; Financial Management, Billing, and Timekeeping; Trust Property & Trust Accounts; Technology; Marketing & Business Development; Marketing Ethics; Staff Management; Professional Practice & Planning; Managing your Time, Projects, and Tasks; Managing your Well-Being & Career.

Client Intake & Engagement

  • Do you use an intake form to collect important information before engaging in representation?
  • At the onset of representation, do you ask the client how they want to be kept informed, note that information in the client file, and communicate those preferences to your staff?
  • At the onset of representation, do you establish communication guidelines?
  • And 3 more important questions.

Fee Agreements

  • If a potential client does not engage your services or you decide not to represent a potential client, do you send a non-engagement letter?
  • Do you review with the client and enter into a written fee agreement that details the scope of representation?
  • Do you enter into written contingent fee agreements using either Form A or Form B under Rule 1.5, or if using an alternative, explain the differences and obtain the client’s written informed consent?
  • And 1 more important question. See also Fee Agreement Best Practice Guide for Lawyers in Massachusetts [Templates].

Communications

  • Do you have established telephone and email policies and procedures?
  • Do you explain to all firm employees the critical importance of handling all calls and emails with professional courtesy?
  • Do you return client and potential clients’ phone calls and emails within 24 hours?
  • And 6 more important questions.

Conflicts of Interest

  • Do you maintain and update a master contact list of current clients, former clients, related and adverse parties, employees, and other individuals with cross references to files to facilitate researching possible conflicts of interest?
  • Do you request information regarding other names (i.e. maiden, marital, aliases, etc.) that potential clients and adverse parties may have used in the past?
  • Do you have a system to clear and document potential conflicts before proceeding with the client intake?
  • And 2 more important questions.

Confidentiality

  • Do you make sure no client files or other confidential materials are ever left in reception or other areas available to the public?
  • Are fax machines, copiers, and scanners located in areas that avoid exposure of confidential materials to persons not associated with the firm?
  • While in public places or in the presence of third parties, do you avoid taking calls or otherwise talking with clients or about client matters so as to protect client identities and confidentialities?
  • And 5 more important questions.

Records Management

  • Do you have standardized filing system for all client files?
  • Do you use consistently labeling and naming conventions for files?
  • Do you scan files to retain in paperless format at the close of a matter?
  • And 5 more important questions.

Docket / Calendaring

  • Do you maintain a master electronic calendar shared among staff?
  • If individual calendars are kept, are those synced to the master calendar?
  • Do the master calendar and individual calendars include all deadlines, statutes of limitations, appearances, meetings, and self-imposed deadlines?
  • And 2 more important questions.

Financial Management, Billing, and Timekeeping

  • Does the firm have a budget that is reviewed, at least, on an annual basis?
  • Are all bills reviewed and approved?
  • Is time recorded contemporaneously?
  • And 10 more important questions.

Trust Property & Trust Accounts

  • Are client trust funds kept in a bank trust account (IOLTA or “individual accounts”) separate from your operating account?
  • Is the trust account named or titled with words, such as “IOLTA”, “Trust”, “Escrow”, that indicate the fiduciary nature of the account?
  • Are all advances for fees and expenses from clients deposited into trust?
  • And 10 more important questions.

Technology

  • Do you use an on-premise or cloud-based server that enables all staff and attorneys access to appropriate documents and information?
  • If you have your own server, is it updated and maintained on a regular basis?
  • Do you use case management software?
  • And 14 more important questions.

Marketing & Business Development

  • Have you done your marketing research to determine that a sufficiently robust target market exists for the services you want to sell?
  • Do you have a clear brand statement that in 2 sentences explains the types of problems you solve?
  • Do you have a marketing plan to notify prospective clients of your brand?
  • And 23 more important questions.

Marketing Ethics

  • Do you have a process for ensuring compliance with the ethics rules before advertising is released?
  • Do all advertisements include the name of the lawyer(s) or firm?
  • Does your website list your actual office address, identify lawyers associated, and provide jurisdictional limits of the practice?
  • And 4 more important questions.

Staff Management

  • Do you have a current office policies and procedures manual and follow it?
  • Do you train your employees when first hired as well as when major procedural changes occur?
  • Do you keep staff members informed and give them an opportunity to offer input regarding matters affecting them?
  • And 12 more important questions.

Professional Practice & Planning

  • Do you have malpractice insurance?
  • Do you regularly go to CLEs or other educational programs in your specialty?
  • Do you have a designated backup attorney to manage your practice in your absence?
  • And 4 more important questions.

Managing Time, Projects, and Tasks

  • Do you complete work in a timely fashion and consistent with the expectations you’ve set with your clients?
  • Do you break down complex projects into smaller tasks?
  • Do you assign tasks to dates and times on your calendar?
  • And 15 more important questions.

Managing Yourself & Career

  • Do you know what your life and career goals are for the next 5 years?
  • Do you know what to do to get a positive evaluation and/or promoted?
  • Are the people, who you work with or work for you, delivering what you want and need?
  • And 19 more important questions.

 

   Free & Confidential Consultations:

Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss concerns with a law practice advisor, a licensed therapist, or both. Find more on scheduling here.