Audits have been used since ancient times to protect assets and assure financial reports. During the 1900’s, the use of audits expanded to reviews of management practices. Managerial audits help organizations avoid malpractice by assessing procedures and processes. Law firms of all sizes can use managerial audits to implement best practices in the office and the courtroom. Read on to learn more about managerial audits and resources for conducting one at your firm.
Scope. Managerial audits typically cover accounting, calendaring, communicating, marketing, personnel, and technical matters. For example, an audit of client communication can examine how quickly the firm responds to client inquiries, whether engagement letters are used to set expectations, and assess how the firm assures client satisfaction.
Questionnaire. Audit questionnaires are used as a checklist to identify strengths and weaknesses. Answers to questionnaires provide the information needed to understand processes and opportunities for improvement. Questionnaire range from a one-page evaluation of an individual’s performance to a multiple page review of firm-wide procedures. See Resources below for links to sample questionnaires for individuals and firms.
Report. Information collected during an audit should be used to prepare a written report of findings and goals for improvement. Reports can be a narrative discussion of matters covered by the audit or a checklist with comments about strengths and weaknesses.
Frequency. Audits can be conducted as a year-end review in December or anytime during the year. Audit results should be reviewed annually to assess progress and identify new opportunities for improvement.
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Resources. Start by reading articles about self-evaluation and firm assessments to plan a managerial audit for yourself or your firm. Next, conduct an audit by completing a do-it-yourself questionnaire or using one prepared by a personal coach, management consultant, or bar association. After completing a questionnaire, prepare a written report to summarize strengths and weakness detected during the audit. Review the report with members of your firm and support staff. Encourage them to improve their skills by reading management books and articles. Consider contacting a consultant, software vendor, or your state’s Law Office Management Assistance Program for additional advice and assistance.
Conclusion. You can help your firm stay professionally and technologically competent with a managerial audit. Audits help firm’s avoid malpractice and provide the information needed to reduce costs and improve results. Use the tips and resources provided in the article to conduct a managerial audit at your firm.