Things to consider

– Develop office manual/operating procedures manual

– “KISS” method

  • Administrative policies & procedures
  • Job descriptions
  • Salaries and benefits
  • Workplace policies
  • Confidentiality policy (for staff)
  • Hiring policies (recruiting, interviewing, negotiating, etc.)
  • Orientation & Training policies
  • Payroll policies & System
  • Mail, fax and delivery handling systems
  • Phone message system
  • Complete computer backup system

Substantive legal systems

  • Checklists for all substantive law areas
  • Fee schedule for all substantive law areas

Docketing, calendaring, tickler system

  • Computer (dual programs are highly recommended eg Outlook & PCLaw)
  • Manual

File organization

  • Client Index/Database dystem (Alpha/numeric; Centralized/decentralized)
  • Opening file procedures
  • Conflict of Interest system
  • Closing file procedures / Retention / Storage / Destruction (visit LIANS’ File/Record Retention page)

Document maintenance (visit LIANS’ Technology page)

  • Offsite – safety deposit box
  • Computer backup
  • Cloud storage
  • Fireproof files

Forms used in practice (visit LIANS’ Sample Letters page)

  • Client interview / Intake form
  • Engagement / Non-engagement letters
  • Written fee agreements
  • Practice specific checklists
  • Billing statement form
  • General client correspondence, notices, etc.
  • Client survey form after conclusion of representation

Client billing procedures (review LOMC Standard #5: Retention and Billing)

  • Regular monthly statements even if no amount due
  • Detailed billing statement
  • Expense billing
  • Costs to be billed: Legal assistant time/paralegal time; Telephone expenses; Duplicating expenses; Computerized legal research; Mailing costs; etc.
  • Collection policy
  • Credit cards for payment

Client Relations Policy (for staff purposes)

  • Setting appointments, introducing staff
  • Returning phone calls, email messages
  • Client intake form/survey at conclusion of representation
  • Keeping clients informed (Send copies of work, documents, etc.)

Accounting Procedures

  • Trust accounting procedures
  • Bank account reconciliation
  • Cash flow statement
  • Accounts receivables / Payables (“Aging review report” list of unpaid invoices)
  • Expense approval System
  • Counter signature requirement on cheques        


Law Society of Upper Canada “Practice management: Guide to Opening Your Practice for Lawyers” and “Professional Management Practice Management Guideline

Law Society of British Columbia “Model policies

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, Code of Professional Conduct

[section 3.2: Quality of Service; section 5.1: The Lawyer as Advocate;
section 7.2: Responsibility to Lawyers and Others; section 6.3:
Equality, Harassment and Discrimination]

Law Office Management Professional Standards, Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia

Develop client acceptance and credit policies. Consider what clients/legal scenarios you will accept – and what you won’t. Do not fall victim to the need to take anything that comes through the door, with credit, competency, ethics, and satisfaction problems as a result. 


Conflict of Interest

Fees and Disbursements

File Closure

Records Management

Relationship to Client


Workplace training, supervision and wellness