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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.

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
Paul B. Harding
"As our firm grew, it became difficult to track the progress of cases through the various units, along with the customer service provided to our clients. VISTA developed dashboards for all this and more! When viewing our dashboard, I now have all the important data at my fingertips: client contact, file review, the number of demands filed, files placed in suit, and so much more! Our unit managers also use these tools to ensure that attorneys and staff are staying on-track. As Managing Partner, I am pulled in many directions at once and am often out of the office — the dashboard allows me to zero in on issues as they develop, regardless of my location or the time of day. Great solution for us!"
- Paul B. Harding / Managing Partner
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