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How many cases should each attorney handle?

January 26, 2017

At Vista Consulting, we get asked this question all the time. “How many cases should each attorney handle?” The answer is “it depends…” Not to be evasive, but we have seen many firms have success with many different formulas. We have seen firms where attorneys carry 20-30 cases, and firms where they carry 200-300 cases. Vastly different models, but both can be successful. When firms ask us to analyze their case counts per attorney and support personnel, we look at several things. We look at current client satisfaction through surveys and percentage of business that comes from non-marketing sources. Low client survey scores, and a low percentage of files coming from non-marketing sources are indicators that your team may have too many files on their plate. We also look at average fees, gross revenue per attorney, and gross revenue per support personnel. Low numbers here can also indicate that people are overwhelmed and have too many files. We also like to analyze what we call Client Communication Cycles and File Review Cycles. How often are clients being communicated with and how often are files being touched? As these cycles increase (another sign of too many files), clients get angry, time on desk goes up, referrals go down, and lots of other bad things tend to happen. Case types also matter. An attorney can handle a higher amount of social security cases than premise liability cases. The case type that the attorney is handling will make a difference in how many they can handle. Finally, all attorneys are not created equal. Some can simply handle more files than others, and handle them well. So the answer is, you have to find out what is the right number for your firm, your attorneys, and the case types that you are handling, but should consider the above questions when making that determination.

Wendy and David Share
“We met with Vista for a strategic planning session as our firm is at the crossroads and we wanted some outside perspective to help us with our planning. Vista provided a very focused environment so that we could develop our “Painted Picture” or 5-year plan. As we were very involved in the process, the conclusions we arrived at were not surprising to us, but having a road map to help us take the next step has been very beneficial to us. We have been working on the required steps and are making progress, and we do always come back to the Painted Picture and the principles we discussed in realizing our objectives. It is very much an ongoing process, and we know Vista is there for us, if and when we need their further input and objective perspective. Vista’s knowledge of the inner working of Plaintiff Personal Injury law firms allowed them to offer their insight and perspective to our unique circumstances. The fact that we are in Canada proved to be no barrier to understanding what our firm is all about.”
- Wendy and David Share
Jerry Parker
"Vista has been a consultant to our firm for almost 2 years. One of the best business decisions I made was to retain Vista. They know plaintiff personal injury firms A-Z. And that's how they analyze your firm, its efficiencies (or lack thereof or worse), office design/flow, reception procedures, telephone procedures, equipment of all types, etc. If you think your office is running at the top of its game and you don't need them, you're probably wrong. I can't imagine Vista not being able to improve even the best run firms. The payback from what they do is likely to be realized within the 1st 3-6 months."
- Jerry Parker
Bill Berg
“… They have also worked with us in ways to improve how many new cases we sign-up – they constantly are coaching us in ways we can do things better in that regard. In our weekly meetings we go over our new case sign-ups, our demand times and various other statistics and topics. They hold us accountable to ourselves… I could go on & on – our accounting department was also restructured based much on their recommendations. And, Vista also researched and found a new CPA firm for me which actually keeps up on telling me what needs to be done instead of just keeping things as the status quo.”
- Bill Berg