Managing a law firm isn’t easy. Even successful law firms face serious challenges. You may wonder how to run a successful law firm, especially if you are opening a new one.
It takes time to bring your firm’s vision to life. Nothing happens overnight. You will occasionally face slow periods during your law firm’s growth. Maybe you never thought of a law firm as a business. However, applying sound business principles to your firm can help you. Here are ten steps to help attorneys start or manage a successful law firm.
A clear vision is essential to success. What do you want to achieve with your business?
Your vision should be easy to explain, measurable, and straightforward. Write down what you think your vision is. You don’t have to limit yourself to one sentence, the important thing is to get your ideas down. What you choose to write will form the foundation of your law firm’s business strategy.
The following are a few key concepts that will help you determine your firm’s strategy:
- Your mission and key values are clearly defined and documented.
- Your business model is clearly documented, offers affordable solutions, and is built around client expectations.
- Show that you understand that trends affect your firm by incorporating what you have observed into your strategy.
- Break long-term goals down into short-term goals and projects.
- Have a supportive peer community or expert coach.
Good Management Skills
When you have your own practice, good management becomes a priority. Remember that the purpose of the practice is to allow you to have a good life. If you put management on the back burner, you will struggle with stress, revenue and income difficulties, and longer work hours. All this impacts the future health and success of your law firm.
For a small law firm with price-sensitive clients, finding efficient systems of organizing is important. Most lawyers can’t afford to charge enough to compensate for inefficiency. Even if you could, if you want your law firm to impress and keep up with the competition, you need to prioritize efficiency. A disorderly environment will undermine your respectability.
Efficiency should affect every part of your law firm. From administrative tasks like organizing files to legal issues like addressing inquiries, every step should be efficient. Technology can help, but it is up to you to find a system that is most efficient for your firm.
A key element of success is building an effective team. This includes training, both for you and your team.
Let’s face it, you probably didn’t go to law school because you wanted to be a manager. That was probably the last thing you wanted. But having a good team to work with can make a difference between just doing a job and doing a job well. Without a good team, the practice collapses without you and disappears completely when you retire.
To combat this, you need to create a durable company culture. Try creating opportunities for coworkers to spend time together socially and professionally. For example, use meetings to collaborate on projects and to plan team activities.
Once you have a good team, your practice starts to become a more efficient business. That way, even when you aren’t there work gets done, clients are communicated with, and money keeps flowing in.
Provide Service Better Than Other Law Firms
What distinguishes a good lawyer from a great lawyer? Many lawyers receive similar training, and more or less stay up to date by reading the same journals and judgments. So from the client’s perspective, what makes the difference? It’s the quality of service you provide.
Clients appreciate feeling like their lawyer cares about and understands their case. Successful small law firms make customer service an intrinsic part of their business. From the moment a client walks through your door, the client should feel well informed about the progress of their case every step of the way. This will make the client feel valued by the firm.
After you conclude a case, take some time to listen to feedback from the client. This will inform you of areas where you can improve. Your clients play a major role in helping you learn how to run a successful law firm, and they can contribute a lot to your company’s vision.
Standardize Systems and Common Procedures
Every single task within your company needs to have a clear process for completion. You need clear systems for tracking time worked, communication between clients and attorneys, billing, and so on. Your team will do these processes over and over. As you grow and take on more clients and staff, established processes will help you get the same results every time.
It may be useful to you to create some guidelines for your employees to follow. Record keeping, pricing and the manner in which you progress through the case will be structured which will save time for everyone.
You’re Not Just a Lawyer, You’re a Business Person
As you establish your own law practice, you are no longer just an attorney. You also take on the role of business manager. That new role comes with challenges. Now, your firm will affect your reputation in and out of the courtroom.
With the right organization and technology, you can simplify the day-to-day running of your law firm. This way you can focus more on providing excellent service for your clients.
Each firm is unique in its needs and circumstances. Ask yourself, “How can I continue to grow as I meet professional and personal goals.” It may be worthwhile to bring in outside help for your marketing campaigns. This could help you bring in new clients and expand the scope of your core values and practices.
The age of technology has changed how people look for information and how they look for legal services. While referrals are still a good option for getting new clients, good law firms adapt to new avenues of marketing.
Your website or social media pages are extensions of your firm. As such, a good law firm website or social media page should reflect the same values as your firm. Use them to show why your law firm is the perfect place to look for lawyers and other legal professionals. You could even include quotes or reviews from former employees and clients to promote your firm.
When marketing on social media, it’s important to have an organized strategy if you want to attract potential clients. Otherwise, you risk ending up running around taking shots in the dark and hoping that it will work out. Take the time to understand how social media marketing works. Learn the costs and the best marketing methods, and then make a plan to apply what you’ve learned.
Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide you with clear data about the progress and success of your law firm. They help you to measure your success and make wise decisions for your company.
KPIs designed for law firms have many of the same basic indicators that apply to all businesses, for example, revenue, accounts receivable, net promoter scores, and marketing leads.
The most successful premise liability attorneys in New York develop solid KPI management systems to ensure high-quality performance.
However, there are a few key fields specifically tailored to the legal industry. Law firms often need to keep track of billable hours and fees for flat rate cases. Metrics for client trust accounts can also be a leading indicator for the long-term health of the firm. In addition, law firms often need to differentiate between open files and closed files, track utilization rates, and so on.
Adopt Technology Early, or Risk Your Competitors Doing So
To be successful in the 21st century you need basic tech competency. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small law firm or a larger firm, tech competence is necessary. But to keep ahead of the game, you also should take advantage of state-of-the-art technology.
But having technology just to have it won’t do you any good. You want tech that meets your specific needs, makes you more efficient, and helps you meet your personal goals for your company. The tools you chose should both solve problems for you and make you a better lawyer and business owner. Invest in technology that fits with your workflow and not the other way around. To that end, you might need to sit down and make a sketch of your ideal processes and systems. Doing so will help you get an idea of what tech to invest in.
Lawyers who have figured out how to run a successful law firm are forward-thinking. They are always on the lookout for ways to meet the client’s needs more efficiently while keeping their service costs as low as possible. For example, many firms that run on a cloud-based system save money by making greater use of smartphones and tablets. This saves by eliminating the need for expensive IT infrastructure and maintenance.
Conclusion on How to Run a Successful Law Firm
The key factor that turns competence into excellence is how much a person enjoys what they do. You will never figure out how to run a successful law firm if you don’t like what you do. A lot of your success will come down to the choices you make about the clients you choose and the work you do.
Small law firms fill an important role in the community. Successful law firm managers are rightfully proud of the work they do in upholding the law and helping people in need.
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