Solo and small firms make up the majority of the legal profession in the United States. Small law firms include those legal organizations with two to nine members.
Sometimes, those who comprise these solo and small firms have trouble managing them. Managing a solo or small law firm isn’t easy, and taking on law firm marketing is even more difficult. So, many professionals become overwhelmed by the management aspects of their firm.
But, if you want to learn how to manage a small law firm, you’ve come to the right place. Just keep reading, and you’ll soon be an expert.
1. Hire the Right People
The people that you hire for your staff matter. These are the individuals who are going to communicate with your clients every single day.
So, you want to make sure that you’re choosing the right people. These are the individuals who are going to represent your firm well.
And, if you have a solo or small firm, you should know that each individual has a greater impact since there are fewer people overall. Your clients are more likely to interact with each individual employee since your firm is small. So, you have even more of a responsibility to manage your small law firm well.
When you’re hiring, you need to focus on finding people with kind conversation and good people skills. No matter their role within your firm, they’re likely to be interacting with clients.
Further, you should focus on finding the right office staff. Even if you only have one receptionist, you need to take your time finding the right one for your firm. Having the right receptionist can turn your entire reputation around.
Finding staff with the right skills to do their jobs more effectively will increase overall productivity.
Consider Their Roles
As you’re hiring people for your firm, you need to look at the kinds of tasks that you’re asking them to do. Their responsibilities will help them complete work around the office. And, you should be dividing work fairly according to each person’s job title and compensation.
Depending on the size of your firm and your workload, it may help to allow your staff to specialize. This will make it easier to divide cases up as well as increase productivity office-wide. Another great technique is to hire personnel from other small law firms as they are used to multi-tasking and being more versatile overall.
2. Grow Your Client Base (Plus Referrals)
By bringing in more clients, you’re bringing in more money. As long as your team can keep up with the work, these clients will help you grow your business and advance your small firm financially and professionally. Note that some of these digital intake clients will refer you, word-of-mouth customers, as well.
You should consider using social media marketing, client intake tools, local advertising, and other methods of lead generation to add to your acquisition wedge.
As you’re setting up these new strategies, you should make sure that you’re keeping track of all of these clients that come in. It’s common for an influx of new clients to get lost in the noise. So, you should focus on making a good impression on all of these new clients.
3. Develop a Strong Brand (Personal Plus Online)
Whether you’d like to believe it or not, your law firm is a brand. And, if it’s going to succeed, it needs to be personal. Your clients don’t want a cold lawyer who isn’t going to serve their emotional needs.
Your website is part of your brand and needs to have the right image and messaging. The website needs to satisfy search engines and the potential new customer search intent. Having the right messaging and search intent includes home page messaging, practice page messaging, logo, and branding. Consumers today do a lot of shopping around so having these setups right from the start will pay you dividends many years down the road.
You could be a great lawyer but lack clients’ goodwill if you’re not serving their personal needs (Online profile and in-person). Of course, these people need legal help. But, they don’t want that help from someone who isn’t personable in person and online. (Note: “Online” is a wide term for google reviews, website, blogs, branding and how its shows etc)
So, it’s important to portray yourself (Online and in-person or staff) as a professional who also cares personally for his/her clients. To form your personal brand, consider the following action items:
- Develop a website with a strong brand and manage your online profile
- Create a home page, practice pages, and other online assets to support and portray your firm’s look and feel.
- Discover your unique traits personally and as a firm (talk to your staff about the qualities and attributes)
- Communicate these traits to your clients and potential customers often
- Manage your firm’s reputation (In-person and on search engine. Example Google reviews)
The end goal for your brand should be to communicate your loyalty and prowess to your current and potential customers. Everyone should know what your firm stands for and how it’s going to help on an individual basis.
4. Rethink Your Pricing (If Applicable)
It’s no secret that consumers care about affordability. More specifically, 78% of consumers agree that lawyers should adopt pricing models that make legal services more affordable. This is why lawyers that work on a contingency basis (AKA Pay Us Only If We Win) have an easy sale. This does not mean that if you have a non-contingency model you would be behind, it all comes down to your market and what lawyers and law firms in your area of expertise are doing. If you are reasonable within the area norm bagging the potential new client and the case will not be a challenge.
But, it’s important for lawyers to look at pricing and payment models across multiple dimensions. Affordability doesn’t just have to do with the price. It’s about the value that you’re giving your customers in exchange for the price that you’re charging.
To do this, we recommend thinking from the consumers’ points of view. Think about different levels of value that you’ve gotten for different price points.
The majority of the time, cheaper products provide less value. And, more expensive products provide more value.
When it comes to your law firm, your customers want helpful consultation, reliable customer support, and more. You have to go above and beyond if you want your customers to choose your law firm over others.
Often, small law firms think that reducing prices or offering discounts is the way to go. But, this is only a short-term solution. This won’t help you compete with other law firms. Consumers want to work with law firms that drive confidence in results.
Larger law firms have more resources. Therefore, they can beat you with lower prices that you can’t sustain, this is why having a good digital presence will give you the volume so you can be in the driver’s seat to get found and pick and choose your clients. Without volume to filter, you may be left to take on whatever you get, which is not the best situation to be in long term.
To go beyond this problem, you need to create a relationship with each and every client. Your personability and results will beat the price every time.
Offer Alternative Methods of Billing and Payment
A great way to appease what your clients want is by expanding payment methods. This is a very simple one but a lot of law firms miss out on potential customers, this is why Google now wants you to specify your payment methods on your “Google My Business” profile. You can revise payment plans, offer fixed-fee billing structures, and consider subscription-based services.
Payment plans give clients the flexibility that they need to afford legal services from your office. By breaking up their payments, you can guarantee that your patients will be able to pay. Even though you won’t get the money immediately, you’ll guarantee a consistent influx of money from payment plans.
Plus, with a payment plan, your customers may be willing to spend more. If they know that they’ll have time to pay it all off, they may be able to afford more services.
You can also offer fixed-fee billing structures to give your customers more predictable bills. Fixed fees help give your clients a clearer look at what their bill is going to be. Rather than fearing unknown pricing, they’ll have a clear idea of what each service will cost.
Thus, they’re going to be more likely to make more financially sound decisions for themselves. And, they’ll trust your firm for not hiding anything from them.
Subscription-based law services (if applicable to your firms’ law practice) give your firm a great recurring income from clients. And, it will let your client rest easy knowing that they can contact you whenever they need to. They don’t have to fit within some kind of timeline (IP & Business law firms are great examples).
This will also encourage clients to reach out before small problems become bigger ones. This will make your small, solo, or mid-sized law firm’s job easier in the long run while giving your clients peace of mind.
5. Oversee Your Finances
Lawyers know how to handle the field of law. This doesn’t include fielding taxes and other financial information. These professionals learn the particulars behind financial law, but they can’t run a small law firm on this amount of information.
So, it’s important to take the time to learn about how to manage business finances. Here are some specific financial characteristics of your firm that you should pay attention to:
- Work in progress: how many hours of work your firm has completed but not billed
- Accounts receivable: money that your firm has billed but not yet received
- Collectible: how many hours your law firm has captured, billed and collected
- Trust accounts: whether or not your clients’ trust accounts are reconciled
You should take the time to review your firm’s finances monthly. That includes looking at these values to determine how well your firm is doing. Optimizing the inflow and outflow of your law firm’s cash flow seems basic but a lot of law firms may leave this simple stone unturned, which could yield a high ROI and reduced waste spend.
6. Invest in Legal Practice Management Software For Law Firm Efficienty & Compliance
All activities these days are shifting online. And, you need to join this virtual movement if you’re going to stay relevant to your clients.
One of the best ways to do this is by offering online services and managing them via legal practice management software. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you should do your research to ensure that you’re making the right choice for you and your clients.
By adapting to these new technologies, you can improve the productivity and efficiency of your law firm. So, you’ll be able to get more work done in a smaller amount of time.
We also recommend running through our law firm website checklist.
How to Manage a Small Law Firm With Marketing and SEO Experts to Get More Clients
Learning how to manage a small law firm isn’t easy. It’s going to take practice even after reading all of our tips and tricks.
But don’t worry. You’ll learn more and more over time.
And if you’re really worried about managing your small law firm effectively, getting more customers in the door will help you increase cash flow and set you up for long-term robust growth, you can always call us for digital marketing that drives results. We’re experts in law firm digital marketing and helping make law firm management easy, and we’re excited to help your firm succeed. More traffic equals more calls, consults, clients, and revenue. More revenue helps fill your top of the funnel for easier and more sustainable law firm management that drives higher bottom lines.
Feel free to contact us if you need help. Or you can read more about us so that you can be confident in our skills.