One of the hallmarks of a successful attorney running his own legal practice is the commitment to certain habits. A habit refers to any behavioral pattern regularly followed within your own small law firm that becomes “automatic” due to repetition. Experienced lawyers managing their private law practice implementing specific habits which help their business succeed and grow into a larger firm.
Doing legal work and running your own business can be complicated when there are no legal systems in place. We recommend that you seek advice from a law firm advisor and business consultant like Richard James, to get expert guidance on how to manage a firm while you practice law. As a law firm consultant, he observed that the following habits, when done by a lawyer, can lead a thriving business: one with a constant stream of new clients and referrals.
#1 Revolutionizing Operations With Legal Technology
The past decades have seen a revolution of software solutions that helped small businesses to systematize and streamlined their business processes. From document management, call management, to customer relationship management, different legal practice management software has been created to aid in the business side of running your own law practice.
If you want to be successful in running your own law firm, you should be open to the idea of automating your business. A simple document automation tool, for instance, can save any legal professional hours in producing application documents, agreements, or leases. An easy-to-use office software out there could even help you in bookkeeping and finance. It can be hard at first when you introduce change in your business but you will be amazed by how the habit of upgrading technologically will transform your firm eventually.
Owners of successful small law firms understand that being efficient is the key to surviving and gives you competitive advantage over other firms. It is difficult to focus on your lawyering when your office space is disorganized and your support staff out of sync. Here are some law firm management tools to consider:
- Automate to have a single information database for your firm
- Run your legal case management and accounting using one application, coming from a single supplier
- Build a library of automated legal forms or letters and agreements to ensure consistency
- Find a law practice management software to help you record every activity in your firm
- Run you operations using a low-cost cloud based software or cloud solution so any practice attorney acn work on his phone or tablet (for mobility)
#2 Practicing Your Passion
Legal professionals who run their own practice become successful when they do what they enjoy and work with the people they want to work with. For lawyers, burnout usually comes after making any of these mistakes in their law practice management:
- set unrealistic expectation of success in their small firm
- Have poor law office management skills
- Fail to build anything of value in their solo practice
In a law firm with different areas of practice, it is a good idea to choose practices that fit together such as estate planning and family law. And since you are not the only lawyer in your firm, make sure that your legal management plan involves proactive steps to mentor younger attorneys, paralegals, and even your legal assistant to help them better appreciate the work.
#3 Supporting Your Team
The staff are often undervalued in the legal profession. Don’t let this be true in your practice. In fact, everyone from your back-office to those handling client-service are important to provide your community’s legal needs. Happy employees are those who get paid fairly, have all the necessary tools and equipment to manage their legal duties, and are thus motivated to work and serve your clients.
Good leaders know that hiring the right people is very important to preserve your firm’s reputation. Moreover, they invest in training staff to get used to business systems such as invoicing, calendaring, or firm marketing. There are plenty of available legal resources you can use to do this. For instance, you can attend a webinar to Discover How To Create Superstar Staff Members That Will Set You Free.
To avoid your team members from making any mistakes, you need to clearly lay out the rules in your business. Rules should not remain rigid. It needs to be regularly inspected, automated, and then evaluated every now and then. Here are some areas where you will need to practice defining rules and expectations:
- Rules of professional conduct
- Frequency of receiving profits or losses
- Amount of expenses vis-a-vis your income
- How many referrals, leads, sets, hires, or shows are targeted in a week
- How many times you should follow-up on every lead
- Revenue goals every week
- Law firm’s system for referrals
- Managing workflows and timekeeping
#4 Delegating Work
Successful legal practices have a leading professional lawyer with good task management and delegation skills. Although some lawyers are good in the field of law, business management, and legal marketing, doing everything on your own may give you stress. If you want more clients, you need to reach more people, and to do that, you will need the help of every staff and lawyer in your private practice.
Below are some advice on how to become better in delegating tasks to your team:
- Share your vision and advocacy with your staff. This helps them understand why you want to do things a certain way.
- Gauge you staff’s skills and level of motivation
- Guide your members in your preferred practice management system
#5 Keeping Things Organized
A large law firm only attained its current standing after learning the importance of organizing things like your schedule, legal files, case files, legal research and the like. Getting your firm organized helps in time management. Below are several things you can consider:
- Your client database should always be up-to-date, secured with encryption, and not accessible to unauthorized personnel
- All standard forms are readily available to every lawyer
- Invest in a case management software and billing software
- Stick to a standard billing procedure
When you are able to maintain the confidentiality of your files, keep track of all cases, have a time tracking and client management system, then you can say that you have a good handle on your business.
If you need help developing systems for your small law firm, contact Richard James today or schedule your free small firm audit today.