How to Incentivize Your Law Firm Team
8 minutes to read
Getting every member of your team to do their job, pull their weight, and contribute to your law firm’s vision is easier said than done. Some leaders try to ply their teams with happy hours and fancy gadgets. Others attempt to motivate with fear. But when it comes to motivating your team to meet your expectations, these methods never work.
The best way to get the behaviors and results you want is to incentivize accordingly.
By definition, an incentive is simply something that motivates or encourages someone to do something.
As any great law firm owner knows, your people are the #1 greatest asset to your law firm’s success — but only if they are aligned, committed, and contributing.
By creating a system that encourages and rewards value creation, law firms can unleash the full potential of their teams — and when you’re done reading this, yours will too.
Don’t know where to start? We’re here to help.
Entitlement: What Happens When You Don’t Incentivize Your Team Properly
Picture in your mind right now a typical law firm. Do you see disengaged team members simply clocking in and out? Are the team members mindlessly going through the motions? Is anyone chasing a meaningful goal?
It’s sad but true: This is how most law firms operate, and it’s why so many aren’t successful.
In environments like these, the team tends to simply do the bare minimum without actively contributing to the firm’s growth. With a lack of engagement running rampant, this can quickly lead to a sense of entitlement, meaning that team members expect rewards and recognition without actually producing any quality results.
Need help identifying what entitlement looks like in your firm? Here are a few of the tell-tale signs:
- “Why is my bonus less than it was last year?”
- “I believe I’m underpaid for my current position.”
- “I’m doing my job, so why haven’t I gotten a promotion yet?”
- “Why can’t I have equity in the firm?”
- “I’ve been here X years. Why doesn’t my compensation match my tenure?”
If any of this sounds like what’s happening in your firm, it’s not too late to fix it. Incentivizing your team effectively is the solution.
Accountability: What Happens When You Do Incentivize Your Team Properly
The key to breaking free from the trap of entitlement lies in incentivizing the desired behavior from your team.
People do things because of positive or negative reinforcement — it just depends on how you motivate them.
Consider this going to the DMV to get your driver’s license renewed. What experience are the workers there incentivized to provide? Do they receive rewards and compensation based on the speed and efficiency of their service? Are they motivated to be friendly and accommodating? You don’t receive that experience because there is no incentive for the DMV to provide it.
However, when team members’ contributions to the firm’s success directly impact their own success, they become more invested in the organization’s objectives. By aligning incentives with value creation, law firms like yours can foster a results-driven culture that propels growth and establishes a competitive edge.
Are you incentivizing meaningful results, or just busywork?
- When following up with potential clients, do your team members leave a voicemail and give up, or do they keep trying until they get the prospect on the phone?
- Do you consider it a success if they dial 50 numbers without talking to anyone, or if they have in-depth conversations with five people who convert into clients?
Results are how your law firm grows. When you incentivize your team to get results, you’re bound to get more of them.
How to Develop Effective KPIs and Incentives
When implementing incentives in your law firm, you must start by defining what it is you want to incentivize. In other words, what are your firm’s key performance indicators?
To put it simply, a KPI is a measurement of progress toward a particular goal. Tracking KPIs within your firm is an essential piece of the puzzle for success to guide your team in the right direction, create specific short- and long-term targets, and display consistent progress — or be able to track and address the lack of progress.
When determining what KPIs to incentivize in your law firm, consider:
- What results do you want to recognize?
- What metrics need improvement?
- Can those metrics be easily tracked?
- Is the team member in direct control of this metric?
- Is the plan easy to understand?
Incentivizing your team around the right set of KPIs requires a thorough understanding of the roles within your law firm and the desired outcomes of each. Let’s explore some examples of how incentives can be structured for different roles.
Example Intake KPIs and Incentives
For intake specialists, who are responsible for client acquisition, KPIs can focus on lead conversion rates and the number of qualified leads generated. Incentives could include performance-based bonuses tied to successful client sign-ups or recognition programs for achieving specific milestones.
Here are just a few of the metrics to consider when incentivizing intake specialists:
- Consultation appointments set
- Consultation show rate
- Conversion rate
- Total new cases/clients
- Positive reviews posted
- Average response time
- Reconciliation/accuracy of intake data
Example Paralegal KPIs and Incentives
Paralegals play a crucial role in supporting attorneys and managing caseloads. Their incentives can revolve around efficiency metrics, such as timely completion of tasks, accuracy of documentation, or client satisfaction scores. Incentives might involve opportunities for professional development, performance-based salary increments, or recognition for outstanding support.
Here are some metrics to consider when incentivizing paralegals:
- Case resolution
- Client satisfaction
- Document management
- Team collaboration
- Continuing education
- Case management efficiency
Example Legal Marketing KPIs and Incentives
For marketing professionals, KPIs may include metrics such as lead generation, website traffic, or conversion rates. Incentives could involve commission-based structures tied to successful campaigns, team bonuses for achieving marketing goals, or recognition for innovative strategies.
Here are some metrics to consider when incentivizing marketers:
- Branded search traffic
- Overall site traffic
- Cost per acquisition
- Landing page conversion rate
- Email open and click rates
Example Law Firm Finance KPIs and Incentives
Finance and billing teams can be incentivized based on metrics like accounts receivable turnover, collections efficiency, or accuracy of financial reporting. Incentives might include performance-based bonuses, recognition for outstanding financial management, or professional development opportunities related to financial acumen.
Here some metrics to consider when incentivizing finance professionals:
- Time for invoice processing and payment
- Billing accuracy and consistency
- Collections resolutions
- Budget reconciliation
- Overall revenue
- Average client value
Example Attorney KPIs and Incentives
Attorneys’ KPIs can be centered around case outcomes, client satisfaction, or revenue generation. Incentives could include performance-based bonuses, profit-sharing arrangements, or opportunities for partnership or career advancement based on meeting predefined targets.
Here some metrics to consider when incentivizing attorneys:
- Case win rate
- Settlement amount
- Legal research efficiency
- Client retention
- Time management
Reward Your Team for the Value They Add
The goal of incentives is to motivate your team to get the results you want in your law firm, ultimately tying each individual’s success to the organization’s success as a whole.
When a team member helps create value, they should participate in that value.
Once you clarify what each team member in your firm will be measured by, make sure they have a transparent way to track their progress and be rewarded for hitting those targets. As a leader, set them up for success by clearly communicating what it will take for them to reach their goals and the incentive amount they will earn when they do.
You may fear that incentivizing certain behaviors could compromise the quality of work or create unhealthy competition. However, careful planning and thoughtful implementation can address these concerns.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about incentivizing your team, here’s an easy way to turn your negative expectations into a positive reality:
Expectation: It will cost me so much.
→ Reality: The investment will actually drive results and make a positive impact on your firm.
Expectation: We already have an annual company bonus plan.
→ Reality: It’s not about money. It’s about accountability.
Expectation: Not everyone is financially motivated.
→ Reality: People need both short-term and long-term motivation.
It’s crucial to strike a balance between individual performance and collective success. Ideally, implementing incentives will support the entire firm’s overarching goals and values.
You want your law firm to be successful — but it can’t be successful unless your team members help it get there.
Motivation is key when it comes to getting the best from your team, but you must make sure you’re motivating them in a way that will ultimately help both them and your law firm succeed.
If you’ve noticed that your people are disengaged, misaligned, and altogether not focusing on the goal at hand, consider strategically incentivizing their performance. Get your team rowing in the same direction — the direction you want your law firm to go.
We can help make it happen.
Contact us today and we’ll get started.