Learning how to manage a small law firm is no easy task. Besides tending to your legal cases, you also need to focus on office management, marketing, client acquisition, and the financial health of the firm.
The stages in the growth of law firms vary from those just starting out to those making over seven figures in revenue. For those just starting out, learning how to run a law firm can be a time of uncertainty and unpredictability.
With proper planning, however, you can easily position your firm for success. Let’s go through some of the best practices on how to manage a small law firm.
One of the most important factors in growing a small legal firm is to prioritize efficiency. In today’s market, an inefficient firm will simply not survive.
Inefficient processes and workflows typically result in frustration. Frustrated employees will be less productive, and morale will suffer. Of course, decreased productivity ultimately affects the bottom line of any business.
To improve efficiency, first understand your company’s workflow, processes, and systems. By fully understanding every aspect of your firm, you’ll begin to identify inefficiencies hindering growth and productivity.
Utilize technology to reduce inefficiencies wherever you can. Whether that be automating repetitive tasks or software to consolidate case files, investing in technology can improve the workflow significantly.
Put Together an Expert Team
Your company is only as good as its people, and this could not be any more true of a small law firm. After all, a firm’s primary assets are its people and the service they provide.
As your team grows, you’ll want to offload cases to associates who are capable and talented. Having the ability to pass cases to competent team members allows your firm to take on more work, which in turn increases revenue. Therefore, do not overlook the important task of thoroughly vetting your team.
One of the best ways to find talented team members is through referrals. Referrals can be from your existing team members or even through other reputable lawyers. As your firm grows, however, hiring externally through a legal recruiter may be necessary.
Focus on Marketing
Now that your team of experts is in place, it’s time to focus on marketing. After all, having a legal A-team lined up means nothing if nobody knows about your firm.
Having a strong online presence in this day and age is crucial for marketing success. This means, at a minimum, having a professional website that is well optimized. Your site should be clear in what your firm is offering, professionally designed, and frequently updated with relevant information. An informative, up-to-date site not only provides value to your clients when they look you up, but it also ranks you higher on search engines so that clients can actually find your firm.
Engaging and providing useful information on other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online forums helps bring credibility to your firm. Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Your potential clients are more than likely utilizing these platforms, and it would be a huge marketing mistake if you did not meet them where they are.
Know Your Numbers and Your Market
The legal market is rapidly evolving. Today, more and more customers are turning to ‘alternative providers’ outside the traditional law firms. As these alternative providers start offering more legal services, the urgency for a small law firm management team to understand its market is vital for survival.
Before you even start learning how to manage a law firm, you’ll need access to market intelligence. Market intelligence is data on industry trends, competitor analysis, financial numbers, product/service offerings, etc. Reliable market intelligence gives you a foundation to make key business decisions such as what niche to narrow-in on, which clientele to target, how to tailor your proposals, and more.
Understanding your market will give you a basis on how to manage a small law firm, and at the same time, position you for growth.
Establish a System for Everything
Establishing systems is necessary for growth. While a 1-2 person law firm may get away with more relaxed systems, a mid-sized to a larger company will simply not function if everyone is doing things their own way. Standardized processes help to improve workflow, become more efficient, and reduce errors.
Some areas in which a small law firm may look into establishing systems include:
- Calendaring: Allows the firm to meet essential deadlines and track employee vacations, appointments, etc.
- Time tracking: Manage and track where employees bill their time through available software.
- Filing: Ensuring you have a systematic and organized filing process is critical for lawyers to access important documents easily.
- Accounting: An accounting system will help maintain records for tax purposes, consolidate employee payroll and benefits, and protects the firm from mistakes or fraud.
Respect Your Network
Whether you’re just starting out in your legal career or you’re an established personal injury attorney, respect for your professional network pays dividend when planning to manage a law firm. Your network can consist of anybody from investors, the law society, and of course, your clients. Engaging with your network and building genuine relationships can help grow and sustain your business.
Always be intentional and plan for networking opportunities. Whether that’s a lunch out with your clients or volunteering at your local law society, get yourself out there. The legal profession is ultimately a ‘people business.’ Your mindset needs to change from “how to make money as a lawyer” to “how can I provide value to those around me.” Therefore, treating your network with the utmost respect and genuine care will help your firm stand out from your competitors.
Valiente Mott is a law firm dedicated to helping personal injury victims. We handle all personal injury matters, including, but not limited to, car crashes, defective products, and catastrophic injury. We are compassionate, yet aggressive when protecting personal injury victims and families who lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Learn more about who we are.
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