8 Critical Reasons to Implement firm Policies and Procedures for Your Law Practice
Creating and following firm policies and procedures are important for any business, but when it comes to the law, it’s imperative that you’re doing it right.
If the policies set in place are not followed, it could cause serious damage at a legal practice. You might get away with it at another firm that is not faced with the law every day, but not following these policies sets your law practice up for failure.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons policies and procedures need to be implemented, executed, and enforced today.
The Importance of Implementing firm Policies and Procedures
Not only does policy implementation improve the behavior and work ethic of a firm’s employees, it ensures the firm will not get into trouble down the road. In a law practice, policies are crucial to follow because if they aren’t, it could make or break a client’s case.
1. Consistent Processes
Consistency in firm policies and procedures is key when it comes to having an organized and legitimate practice. It gives employees an order to follow that prevents confusion and chaos.
It establishes guidelines for management regarding team relationships, their functions, and how they operate. It addresses the steps to take when a problem arises and how that problem should be resolved.
Overall, having consistency makes it easier for your employees to know what to do. They have clear boundaries in their work and their working relationships, and they don’t have to guess whether something is acceptable or not. When they have this confidence in their work, they can perform better and be more productive.
2. Quality Service
Another reason following policies is so important is that it helps your practice provide superior and high-quality services. Your firm sets guidelines and a standard for employees to follow. When this is enforced and followed, there is no question of how your clients are being treated.
Great customer service results in repeat customers and improves the overall morale and reputation of your business. Employees feel good about making others happy and satisfied with their work.
Workplace safety is a huge concern and has many policy and procedures built around it. Though a legal practice is unlike a manufacturing firm where employees are running heavy machinery or doing heavy lifting, safety in the workplace still applies.
Adherence to policy about safety will keep staff safe in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or other unforeseen attacks on their safety or security. When these policies are followed, business operations can go back to running as normal, faster.
4. Accessible Documentation
Is there documentation that’s readily available and accessible to staff? For most businesses, when a new person is hired, they are given an employee handbook. This outlines all of the major policies, structures, procedures, and employee information.
Some of them are printed and given to an employee. Other businesses have an online portal where people can go to search any question in the handbook and easily pinpoint the answer.
Handbooks are important to have available and easy to use for staff because they outline all of the necessary information an employee should know upon hire, and during their time employed with the firm.
5. Offer Training
Giving an employee a handbook when they are hired may not be enough. Providing them with training classes and an orientation will ensure they are clear about all of the policies and procedures your firm has in place.
It will provide them with a deeper understanding about specific procedures, how to implement them, and how to ensure they are compliant. Providing employees with real, hands-on training allows your business to succeed when faced with an issue.
Training should be an on-going affair, presenting employees with new information on how to respond to a certain situation. These classes help empower your staff to make right decisions that benefit the firm.
6. Keep Each Other Accountable
Policies and procedures are great but enforcing them is crucial. If your firm has great policies, but no one cares about whether they are followed, you may get into a lot of trouble. For a legal practice, even more so than a regular business.
Management and supervisors need to set the tone and adhere to policies so that teams under them will see the importance. Management also needs to address the consequences that will occur when an employee is not adhering to the set requirements. They need to be aware of the discipline that happens when they don’t follow the guidelines in place.
7. Review Procedures
Have an allotted time every year to review policies and procedures and make sure they are up to date. As technology and the world changes, it may mean incorporating new protocols and removing old ones that no longer apply.
Bring management together to review the regulations and confirm that they are including all recent changes in technology if they affect the business. Any changes made to protocols need to be sent out to staff and then followed up with appropriate training.
8. Employee Comprehension
While setting great guidelines and strictly enforcing protocols set your practice up for success, your downfall could be lack of employee comprehension.
If your employees simply don’t understand the protocols or the reason they should be following them, they likely won’t follow them. Training classes and handbooks are great steps towards employee comprehension. However, signing off on a form saying they’ve understood the material doesn’t confirm that they actually get it.
The best way to be sure your employees understand the policies and procedures they are to follow is to test them. Instead of just having them sign off on a form saying they’ve completed going through the handbook, set up comprehension tests. If they don’t understand a concept, they will need to go back and re-read and re-test that portion.
You Need Strong Protocol
As you can see, firm policies and procedures are set in place, not just for legal reasons, but to set your employees and your business up for success. They protect your clients and ensure there is consistency across the board in reactions to situations.
If you’re interested in learning other ways to improve your business, read this blog on business efficiency.