Practice tips from a legal FD

At the UNIT4 Customer Conference Marks & Clerk LLP finance director Mark Hancock offered insights on how enhanced reporting helped him to run the firm more profitably.
 
For Marks & Clerk, a firm specialising in intellectual property law, a move to unify its accounting and practice management systems has paid dividends in driving profitability and harmonising operations within the firm.
 
Key performance indicators
As a professional practice, Marks & Clerk bases key performance indicators (KPIs) on fee-earners’ activity levels. Key questions include: what did they record in their time?; and how can it get better use out of that time?
 
Finance director Mark Hancock explains that utilisation and recovery form a large part of these measures: “Having just come through the downturn, we’re starting to see recovery – our budgets are starting to show an upturn.
 
“We’ve seen this through our figures too, so literally our professional fee billing is the biggest part to it. To us it’s managing work in progress, looking at the number of hours that the attorneys are billing. That’s our real driver.”
 
That’s all basic stuff to any practice manager. Nevertheless, Hancock has been overseeing a new model populated with regular numbers to show profitability levels. “We now need to start looking a lot deeper at our business intelligence, to really be able to forecast with more certainty of what’s going to be happening in the next two-to-three-year window, not just 12 or 18 months,” he says.

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