Changing the Culture of Legal Practice Management
Cultural change is a form of organizational transformation that is radical and fundamental to an organisations performance. Cultural change involves changing the basic values, norms, beliefs, etc., among members of the organization in order to improve organizational performance. It is driven by people and the success of developing the desired culture is determined by people.
Without a doubt an organisation's people alone are responsible for an organisation's culture and its ultimate performance.
Legal Practice Management refers to the administration of a legal firm's workload and client-based projects, its human resources, its financial resources, its operational infrastructure and its business development initiatives. Practice management is essentially the discipline that coordinates a legal firm's resources so it can effectively deliver services to its clients. Traditionally Legal Practice management has been viewed as a bookkeeping/accounting function and nothing more. It has been seen as a discipline to meet statutory requirements for the submission of financial information.
From the definition of legal practice management it is clear that it is so much more than bookkeeping- it should be the force driving a legal practice to maximise its potential.
Changing the Culture
Given the traditional view of Practice Management (an alias for bookkeeping) how does one go about changing the mindset of people in a legal firm? How does one create an awareness that Practice Management is so much more than just bookkeeping for statutory purposes? One does this by demonstrating the value added by having a Practice Management function that manages the legal firm as a whole!
Where does one start with this? By educating a firm's Practice Manager and giving him/her the tools and practical skills to perform the Practice Management function as it should be executed.
Basically the Practice Manager will become:
- The proponent for change in the legal firm;
- The resource that the firm's principals rely on for the smooth running of the practice;
- The resource the staff of the firm look to for support;
- The resource that assumes the role that a Chief Operating Officer would in a large organisation.
In changing an organisation's culture, education is key. In order for this education to be truly successful, it must be practical - this is a non-negotiable. This "practical approach to education" is the premise on which GhostPractice's Practice Management Academy has been founded- practical focused learning, which drives culture change.
The GhostPractice Practice Management Academy opened its doors on the 20th October 2009 and the first course being offered is its Practice Management Course. Clients were invited to enrol their Practice Managers on the course and the turnout was better than anticipated. Forward thinking practices recognise, like our GhostPractice division does, the need for a practice management function that does more than just meet statutory obligations. This forward thinking approach will no doubt lead to these practices optimising the way they operate and give them an all important competitive advantage in an ever increasingly competitive sector.
Front from Left- Kuben Naidoo, Tim van Rooyen, Yvette Steynberg, Anneke Muller, Paul Macaulay; Back from Left- Natasja Lubbe, Mariska Lloyd, Gill Gordon; Not Pictured- Nettie Lubbe, Seshni Coopsamy and Ernest Manyumwa
The smiling faces at the end of lecture 1 of the very first Practice Management course demonstrate the enthusiasm of the participants and the value the practical learning is providing.
If you would like to know more about the GhostPractice Practice Management Academy, the other courses we are offering (Financial Administration and Bookkeeping) or how GhostPractice is driving change in the legal industry, feel free to call me on 084 586 6789 or email me [email protected].