Lawyers often pursue law out of passion with the goal of eventually starting their own firm. Unfortunately, the skills that are required to run a law firm don’t overlap with the skills needed to be an effective lawyer.
A law firm is a business, after all. Lawyers who start their own firm often become bogged down with the day-to-day operations and handling marketing, operations, and accounting, pulling them away from practicing law. When this happens, lawyers could end up leaving work unfinished, struggling with burnout, or making grievous mistakes.
Building a firm from the ground up and taking it from $0 to $1 million is a big challenge, but it can be done with some effective strategies.
Delegate and Outsource
Lawyers don’t often realize everything that goes into running a law firm. Once they start, they find out about all the tasks they need to complete in a day, which can become overwhelming. All this time takes away from their passion – practicing law – and affects the function and success of the firm in the long term.
Most lawyers are lacking in the expert skills for accounting, marketing, and other business processes. When they try to do everything themselves, they’re not only overwhelmed, but they’re not necessarily the best people for the job.
By outsourcing and delegating, you can ensure that you have the best team for the job and that everything gets done properly and promptly. Then, you have time for the tasks that only you can do, such as casework.
If you don’t have the budget for a full team or full-time employees, consider your options for outsourcing. Plenty of agencies offer legal work to cover some of your law firm’s tasks, so you can free up your time as needed.
Consider Available Technology
Outsourcing may not be an option for a starter firm. If you need more help, technology tools can be beneficial. Legal practice management solutions can streamline and automate tasks for you, such as accounting, timekeeping, and client intake, so you can free up more time for your own work.
You have a lot of options for legal technology, so do your research. Look for solutions that have the features you need for your firm right now, as well as options for your future growth. As your scale, you may want to add new features to take on the heavier workload.
Design and Develop Systems
Businesses need systems in place to scale effectively and ensure that all processes run smoothly. As the founder of the firm, it falls on you to design and develop systems that tackle repeatable tasks and designate them to the appropriate team members. Done correctly, systems can leave your time open to focus on the tasks that only you can do, even as your firm grows.
For example, no matter the practice area, most firms have repeatable, predictable patterns for how things will go. If your firm is focused on one type of practice, such as family law or prenuptial agreements, you probably have many repeatable patterns. You can determine which of these can be systemized and develop systems to get the work done efficiently.
Developing a Marketing and Client Acquisition Strategy
Identify the Problem
Prospective legal clients find lawyers and law firms by looking for answers to their problems, much like any other business. They may not know if they need a lawyer, they may be looking for their options, or they may know that they need a specific type of lawyer.
Whichever is the case, they’ll probably start with a Google search for information related to their legal issue. Perhaps they’ll search for phrases like “who’s responsible for an injury on my property?” or “do I need a lawyer for my divorce?”
If they find answers to the query from your law firm, they have a sense of trust and confidence. They may seek more information from your site, or they may schedule a consultation to discuss their case with you.
Offer Your Firm as the Solution
Legal problems tend to be stressful, complicated, and emotional. Prospective clients aren’t going to make an impulsive decision and choose the first law firm they come across. They’ll likely look at different law firms in the practice area that applies to their case, or they may look for information about what they can expect.
Clients find lawyers a number of ways, including radio and television ads, billboards, print ads, and online ads. Most people get information about businesses online, and that certainly applies to law firms.
Because the decision to work with a particular lawyer carries a lot of risk, clients are going to take their time. They want to make the right decision to ensure they don’t waste their money, end up in jail or with fines, lose their business or children, or other potentially damaging results. Clients will often look at reviews, testimonials, and content before they make a decision, which is why you need to position your firm as the best possible solution for their legal issue.
Nurture the Long-Term Relationship
If a client comes across your content and site and schedules a consultation, it’s important that they have a good experience. Even if the outcome isn’t what they hoped for, you can still make the process as positive and stress free as possible.
You’re not finished when the case is done, however. Once the case is resolved, your client has entered the post-purchase or retention stage of your funnel. A lot of businesses neglect clients during this phase, and it can have a lasting impact.
If you can give your client a positive experience after the case, whether they won or not won’t be as important as the impression they have. They will remember how they were treated, how responsive you were, and how much confidence they had in you. While you can only influence the outcome so much, you have full control over how you treat your client.
Then, if your client knows someone who needs a lawyer, they’ll recommend you. They may leave positive reviews online and recommend your law firm to others on their online social network.
This can only happen if the experience was good, however. If it wasn’t, you could have a disgruntled client leaving negative reviews and talking about their bad experience all over town. This is damaging to your reputation and can affect other clients coming to you. This is why it’s vital that you engage with your client after the case, take their recommendations and feedback, and keep the door open for future business or word-of-mouth recommendations.
Make Your Law Firm a Success
Taking a law firm from $0 to $1 million is not a small task, but with the right systems, strategy, and processes, you can make it happen!
—Author Bio: Maxwell Hills is the founder of Hills Law Group, a premier Orange County divorce lawyer law firm with a concentration on high net worth divorces. Max’s entrepreneurial career stretches back to his teenage days when he had his music used in Grey’s Anatomy and ESPN. Today, Max has used that experience to build Hills Law Group with 0 customers and $0 in revenue to a respected firm in the industry.