How To Manage a Small Law Firm in 2023
Small law firms may not have as many resources as their bigger counterparts. However, it doesn’t mean they can’t compete in terms of giving quality legal services to their clients.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to manage a small law firm and achieve your business growth goals. Let’s begin with the basics.
To be successful in law firm management, everyone in your firm should understand the firm’s values, work hard towards the same goals, provide exceptional client experience, modernize processes with technology, and have a strong digital marketing strategy to ensure client and revenue growth. With these in mind, you’re well on your way to your firm’s success.
Pricing is a deciding factor for any potential client. It would be unfortunate if prospective clients don’t hire you because of a pricing issue.
Here are some pricing options you can offer new clients:
- By the hour – this is the traditional pricing wherein you pay an hourly rate
- Subscription-based – you pay a monthly fee based on a fixed set of legal services
- Flat fee system – you pay a fixed amount (in advance or with a payment plan)
- Contingency fee – you only pay when a result is met (if the lawyer wins the case)
A good approach to pricing is to offer value for the price. Value can be providing above-and-beyond customer service, free consultations, a client portal to share information 24/7. Anything that a client perceives to be valuable coming from a solo law firm can help them agree with your pricing structure.
Another issue is affordability. Affordability can be relative, so you need to customize your pricing to suit your client’s financial capabilities. While some clients can pay the full amount of your legal services, others may prefer a payment plan.
Small law firms need to focus on tasks that grow the firm’s clientele and increase billable client hours.
Here are some steps toward managing a growing law firm:
- Have a clear digital marketing strategy and campaign
Even with minimal resources and marketing budget compared to larger law firms, your law firm should have a solid digital marketing strategy to attract prospective clients online and build client engagement. People search for legal services using search engines and social media every day, and this is something that your solo law firm should take advantage of.
- Track and measure digital marketing efforts
You need to know if your digital marketing efforts are getting results. To do this, you need to have a tracking and measuring process for all your marketing campaigns. For instance, Google Analytics is a tool to measure your website’s performance, including page views, top visited pages, and number of visits per month.
One of our clients, Nunez Law, achieved growth based on their Google pay-per-click (PPC) campaign results as seen below:
- Start SEO for your law firm website
Your law firm website should be optimized for search engines. This is where a specialized small law firm search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is a marketing method that improves your website’s content so it can rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which helps your business have more visibility online and attract prospective clients.
If you’re short of time, then focus on what you do best: serving clients. You can hire a professional digital marketing agency for lawyers to save time and get the best results.
Your clients should always be the main focus of your efforts when deciding how to manage a small law firm. Giving clients the best experience with your small law firm can get you positive word-of-mouth and increase your review rating on online platforms like Google My Business.
Hire passionate, caring law firm personnel
Whether you’re hiring a junior lawyer straight out of law school, a paralegal or someone to answer the phones, a key requirement should be their ability to provide great customer service. While the knowledge of practicing law is the top requirement, a close second should be the ability to listen with genuine concern and communicate effectively. It will serve your small law firm in the long term when you hire staff who are able to provide the best client experience.
Integrate customer satisfaction in your staff’s key performance metrics
To ensure that your staff continues to provide exceptional client experience for your small law firm, you can add customer satisfaction in their performance evaluations. While this metric can be tricky to measure, one method is to run customer satisfaction surveys after they receive service from your staff.
You can also integrate performance management tools to monitor the satisfaction and how your employees are faring.
Build a professional lawyer website to make a strong first impression
For most people who will find you online, your small law firm website will be their first experience with your firm. That’s why it’s essential that your law firm website is secure, fast, and has a modern design that sets you apart from other law firms. Most law firms don’t have web developers on their team, so the common practice is to hire a law firm web design company for this purpose.
Our client, personal injury law firm Wattel & York is an example of a modern, conversion-driven website that attracts potential clients:
Standard operating procedures (SOP) help everyone in the law firm do their jobs efficiently, without making costly mistakes. From organizing client documents to billing and payment, every task in your small law firm should have a written SOP that each staff member should know.
You can start with these steps:
- Create procedure documentation
Your team is able to perform everyday tasks efficiently when there’s a written guide to all business processes in your law practice. In addition, documented SOPs help new hires learn faster and grow in their abilities within your law firm.
More importantly, having a documented process helps your law firm show your compliance with regulations such as the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and protect you from future audits.
Here’s a quick guide on creating an SOP document for your law firm:
- Identify processes that can be automated
Administrative tasks in small law firms like getting and storing client information can be streamlined into a semi or fully automated system. There are many apps like data management software for the legal industry that allow you to perform tasks like this with a click of a button, giving you more time to work on more important matters.
- Recognize redundancy
If you see that a task is being done more than once when it does not need to be, you’ll need to address the redundancy. It’s either you eliminate the redundant step or replace it with one that fits the workflow better to manage your small law firm effectively.
A financial plan for small law firm owners is essential to ensure business growth. It should be a comprehensive list of where your money goes, where it comes from, and how much money you plan to spend within a specific period of time.
You can check out financial plan templates for small law firms to help you get started.
Here are the main elements of your finances that you should pay attention to:
- Goal revenue (per month, per year) – This is how much you want your law firm to make each month and year.
- Budgets – List your law firm’s expenses and set a limit on each of them.
- Cash flow – This is a comprehensive list of your revenue and expenses.
- Projections – This is where you can “see” what you’ll earn in the future, based on your current revenue per month and budgets.
Keeping track of your finances also helps you check if your law firm is doing good in terms of utilization rate, which is the total hours you could bill in a day versus what you actually bill. For instance, if you plan to work billable hours for eight hours every day, but for one day you only worked four hours, then your utilization rate for that day would be 50%.
Using electronic systems and tools can help you achieve your law firm’s success. There are many aspects of managing small law firms that technology can improve, depending on your practice area. If you have the budget, identify tasks that eat up most of your billable hours in your law practice and use the best legal management software you can find.
While we discuss software and tech tools for lawyers here, below are the few you can start with.
- Case management system (Jira, MyCase, SmartAdvocate)
Below is Jira’s landing page offering specialized case management system for law firms and lawyers:
- Billing processes and payments (TimeSolv, Rocket Matter, LawPay)
Legal tech software like LawPay allows your small law firm to accept payments and streamline your billing process.
- Legal documents (PandaDoc, Oneflow, Filecamp)
Oneflow is one of the many document management softwares that most law firms use. It provides advanced contract management features such as interactive fields and templates for creating multiple contracts.
- Task management (Avokaado, Amberlo, HighQ)
Know what everyone in your firm is working on with task management apps for legal professionals. Avokaado offers a sleek contract management system to help you manage your small law firm effectively.
With embracing legal technology, you cut down on administrative tasks and focus on more important tasks including representing clients.
After you start your small law firm, you need to manage it effectively. You need to fix your pricing structure, create SOPs, and improve your client’s experience.
Are your basics in place and you feel ready to scale your growth? Then hand over your law firm’s marketing to an experienced agency (that’s On The Map Marketing, of course!) Contact us today with your business requirements. We conduct a free marketing audit for firms we have a mutual fit with.
Article by Kim Barloso
Kim Barloso writes different types of content that helps businesses and brands establish their online presence. Before venturing into writing ten years ago, she was a communications trainer for customer support companies. These days, she keeps herself busy with writing and catching up on true crime documentaries.
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