Last week, Postali attended the Jump-Start Your Law Practice, a 3-day conference aimed to help small law firms and solo practitioners accelerate their business growth. Throughout the event’s lineup of speakers, a common theme emerged:
As a small practice owner or a solo practitioner, you have to be an amazing lawyer and business owner. You have to craft strategies for the most effective use of marketing, technology, budgeting, human resource management and customer service.
So how does a busy attorney find time for it all? How do you propel your business toward the growth you want while also keeping your clients top-of-mind?
At the conference, the sessions encouraged lawyers to think differently about their business operations. It was an event where seasoned attorneys, new attorneys, marketers and legal technology providers united to discuss the best ways to efficiently run a successful law practice.
As a marketing agency, Postali becomes deeply engrained in the business operations of the attorneys we work with. Attending educational events like this helps us understand the challenges that lawyers face so we can find ways to help overcome them.
Here’s a roundup of our key takeaway tips for lawyers who want to jumpstart their law practice:
During his 30 years in practice, Judge Joseph D. Johnson knew exactly how much it cost to run his practice per hour.
While many attorneys do not know their cost to run their business per hour, it is important to find a budgeting strategy that works for your firm. If you have an accurate and precise understanding of your costs, you can set goals for how much revenue your firm needs to bring in to meet your financial goals.
This also can help you decide how to price your fees. If you have attorneys who bill hourly, it will help you set expectations on how many hours they need to bill each month. If you have an average revenue per case or client, your budgeting can also help set marketing goals and plan investments accordingly.
This will look different for every type of firm. A small law firm specializing in medical malpractice, for example, may go several months without a revenue source. A DUI attorney, on the other hand, should expect a more regular revenue stream. While there may be a level of unpredictability with your revenue, there should be no surprises when it comes to your costs. Profitability starts with strategic and detailed budget that works for your area of practice.
Most attorneys aren’t working a normal 9-5. You need to be accessible to clients at all hours. Atlanta attorney Travis Townsend explained that as a lawyer, your most valuable asset is your time. As a service business, your time is really what you’re selling.
Technology can help streamline your business operations, leaving you more time to spend on your clients. Look for opportunities to use technology like practice management software, budget software, e-mail rules or cloud-based technology solutions to make your tasks easier.
For example, a receptionist can field incoming phone calls so that you don’t waste time with calls that are not likely to turn into a client for your business. There are several technologies available like Ruby Receptionists or Ngage Live Chat that will improve your intake process and save you time. Firms who embrace technology will run more efficiently and often more cost-effectively.
Make it a priority to stay up-to-date on legal technology developments that can help your firm. Not sure where to start? Add blogs like Law Sites by Robert Ambrogi or Law Technology Today to your weekly reading list.
During a panel discussion on time management strategies for attorneys, Neil Pedersen referenced the findings of a recent study. For every one-minute distraction that interrupts you during your day, you actually lose 7 minutes of time.
This is why it’s important to manage your firm’s use of technology, but not to let it manage you. Turn off your sound notification on e-mail when you’re working on something and set up inbox rules so that you’re only receiving the most important e-mails first.
Look for opportunities to eliminate distractions that do not add additional value to your business. Set aside dedicated time for catching up on e-mails. Don’t be afraid to decline a meeting invite if you do not really need to be there.
As an attorney, your clients come first. Use technology to add efficiencies to your business but make sure it doesn’t become a distraction from the most important tasks that require your full attention.
Marketing is an essential function of any business. Several speakers highlighted a crucial building block of any law firm’s business development strategy. First, you must understand who you are, what makes your firm stand out and what type of clients you want.
People have instant access to information in seconds. Your potential clients are researching you and your competitors when they’re looking for the right attorney. If you have strong branding and a unique voice, your firm will stand out among its competitors.
Don’t afraid to be different. Clients are looking for attorneys they can relate to. Julie Tolek’s mission, branding and message align to tell the story of an attorney who will be honest, cool and approachable. She hasn’t just started a law firm. She built a brand, and her brand stands out from every other firm in her market.
None of these tips or strategies should be static. Your branding may need to evolve. For Dawn Estes, her firm went through rebranding as it brought on new attorneys who specialized in different areas of law. She explained that even the most popular brands in the world need to go through rebranding to keep up with a changing landscape. Law firms are no different.
Similarly, looking at budgets regularly can highlight areas to improve your operations. It can also surprise you, explained Travis Townsend. You may not realize how profitable certain areas of your business are (or are not) if you’re not evaluating your budgets regularly.
Continue to educate yourself and your firm with the newest technology. Firms who stay ahead of the trends will also stay ahead of the competition.
Thanks, Steve Adams, for having Postali at your event!