If you are owner of or partner in a law firm, you probably spend a good part of your day dealing with the day to day issues of running a legal practice. In order to be successful, you need to do more than just be a great lawyer. You need to think about ways to improve your business operations. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Write a budget to manage your practice. At least annually, you should review the firm’s prior year expenditures and create a detailed and well categorized budget for the next 12 months. Every 2 months during the course of the year, you should look at your actual revenue and expenses compared to budget to gauge whether you are on track, or if you may need to refine it. If you are having trouble paying bills or anticipate a possible cash flow problem, be proactive in analyzing your expenses and determining whether any can be minimized or eliminated. If not, then consider financing options to generate cash flow in the short-term so you can pay your bills.
- Explore whether the firm could be run more efficiently. You should have a good understanding of workflow at your firm. Talk to employees about what tasks can be streamlined. Look for opportunities to automate certain tasks. There are numerous products in the marketplace specifically to improve law firm efficiency. For example, some of the options include:
- Calendar management programs
- Case management software
- Inter-office communication systems
- Cloud services
- Court appearance and calendaring services
- Consider outsourcing. There are reliable staffing firms that can provide experienced attorneys on a project basis (big or small). Money spent here can move your cases along to conclusion faster, without having to hire a full time employee that you may not be able to keep busy all the time.
- Educate yourself on good business practices. You are trained as a lawyer. How trained are you to run the business side of practicing law? There are CLE courses on this topic, as well as from other sources, such as colleges, business organizations and nonprofit small business centers. There are also online courses available. You should also consider hiring a non-lawyer who is an experienced business person to manage the operation of the firm. The efficiencies created by this can be exponential. Do what you do best – practice law.
- Have a plan to attract new business. Start by doing some research on your market. A great resource is also talking to colleagues in other firms who have successfully built their practice. Consult with a marketing professional who specializes in marketing for law firms, and possibly in the specific field of your practice. Use various tactics to market your firm, including social media. Make sure you allocate money in the budget for a marketing plan. And set aside time in your schedule to actively network to make new contacts and stay top of mind with existing ones.
Having run a legal practice ourselves, we know the challenges personal injury lawyers face in running their practice. Hopefully these tips will help your firm thrive.
Learn more about how we help firms use funding to grow their practice.