Use Business Practices in Your Law Firm
Business of Legal
Law firms are businesses, regardless of size. For solo and small firms, launching is like the early days of a startup. Firm owners must think like business people, which means understanding the levers of success in your firm. What can you do to improve client experience and cash collections or your firm culture, including individual timekeeper performance? What technology will your clients demand? What systems and processes do you need to be efficient as a plan attorney? How can you use technology to attract more clients?
Today, we use technology in our everyday lives, and clients demand efficiency. Thinking as an entrepreneur can also mean figuring out how to use solutions to satisfy clients, whether business clients or consumers. However, businesses make technology decisions based upon the return on the cash invested in the products and systems. Below are five business ideas for your law firm, including technology solutions.
Four years ago, a Yoodle poll reported that 54% of seniors use the internet. And research from the National Law Review indicated that 96% of Americans use a search engine to find a lawyer, and about three quarters of those that start to search online use a phone to contact the potential attorney. Also, over two thirds of searches are done using both a computer and a phone and almost three quarters of clients only contact ONE attorney.
So, do not be one of the 27% of firms that do not have a phone number or 68% without contact email information on the firm’s home page. Better yet, license a solution to set appointments using calendaring software. Also, ensure that your website works equally well on a phone as well as a computer, or in other words is mobile responsive. You will only have one chance when someone visits your website. Put your best digital foot forward.
Your firm’s vision or goals are your own, and like business planning in the corporate world, every law firm should have a strategic plan. Are you looking to balance work and family with a moderate case load or are you looking to build a huge practice? Choosing your goals are essential to your strategic plan.
Your strategy will drive your budget. If you are in growth mode, you will need to plan additional resources. Start with your revenue building up from expected billings and be specific month by month; never just divide an annual total by twelve. When you are planning for expenses, start from zero every year.
Legal Practice Management
Businesses have project management systems and other time and billing software that help them manage the workflow as they deliver products and services. The LPM (legal practice management) system will allow attorneys to systematize their delivery and provide a communication platform with clients. Most LPMs are integrated with accounting, time & billing and perhaps client development systems like customer relationship management (CRM) to help create your pipeline of business and manage your contacts.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are critical to measure client satisfaction, performance, profitability, and collections, all measures that are more than traditional billable hours and profits per partner. An accounting system and LPM are very helpful for collecting the data necessary to create a set of KPIs that cover your firm’s workflow but KPIs can be tracked using a simple spreadsheet program like Excel. KPIs can help discover what is working well and where change is needed in your firm.