How to Retake Control and Grow Your Firm: 3 Tips for Nailing Down the Ideal SOP

Trying to grow your law firm without a written manual of standard operating procedures (SOP) is like trying to run a successful bakery without written recipes. Imagine you opened a pie shop, showed your staff how to bake apple pie with your secret recipe, and watched them do it until they baked delicious, golden pies. Then, you stepped out of the kitchen for six months. How do you know that they’re still making pies the way you wanted? Without a written recipe to refer to, they could have forgotten a step or accidentally mismeasured an ingredient while you weren’t watching.

It’s the same thing with your law firm. If you don’t document your core processes — the things that are critical to how you work and make your firm unique — then they are bound to get lost or muddled, making your firm less efficient. It’s critical that you have an SOP clear enough that someone could come in off the street, read it, and have a sense of how your processes, like your intake process or work delivery, function. So, how do you create an SOP? Here are a few tips.

1. REMEMBER: IT’S ABOUT THE PROCESS, NOT THE PEOPLE

A business that relies on extraordinary people is constantly at risk because those people can leave at any time. That’s why it’s best to build a business on extraordinary processes that can be executed by ordinary people. Of course, in a perfect world, you’d have extraordinary people and extraordinary processes. But if you have to choose one, go with processes every time.

2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

When you’re putting together your SOP, your most valuable resource is your staff. They probably know the core functions they perform better than you do, so by delegating the SOP draft to them, you’ll get the most accurate version and a peek behind the curtain.

3. TAKE TIME TO MAKE THINGS BETTER

Once your staff hands over their drafts, be sure to review, tweak, and improve them, then implement those changes. That’s when the real magic happens! People will start to pay closer attention to the processes, and you’ll have a better understanding of your firm. Just remember not to let the tweaks take too long: A finished but imperfect SOP is better than no SOP.

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