Have you ever been in a place with your law firm where nothing is particularly wrong, but something just doesn’t feel right? You’ve got a good client load, those clients are happy and paying on time, the office is running smoothly…so what’s missing?
Welcome to the club. You’re officially in a rut with your law firm.
You can generally identify a rut by any/all of the following symptoms:
- Stagnant growth. Business isn’t bad, but it’s not really exploding, either.
- Irritability and/or infighting among the staff. (Usually because they’re bored or have no significant project to work on.)
- General disinterest or lack of motivation. You don’t look forward to coming to the office in the morning.
The dangerous thing about ruts is that they aren’t necessarily uncomfortable—in fact, they’re typically too comfortable. But stay in a rut for too long, and your law firm will begin to suffer. Let’s explore a few common causes for ruts and what you can do about them.
Getting Caught in “Maintenance Mode”
In most offices, it’s easy to mistake the forest for the trees. There’s always plenty of “busy work” to be done—filing, answering emails, administrative work, case work, etc.—and if you’re not careful, this busy work can fill up your days to the point that you’re doing nothing but maintaining the status quo—nothing on your task list that involves actually growing the company.
How to break out of the rut: Delegate the administrative work to a capable staff, and turn your attention to marketing and sales. Even if you have a full roster of clients, you always need a fresh inflow of leads and prospects to generate growth. Not to mention that every client relationship has an expiration date, and at some point you’ll need new clients to replace the ones who are moving on.
Sometimes ruts happen not because you’re doing something wrong, but because you’re doing something right. A good marketing strategy will eventually get you all the clients you can handle. That’s a good thing, but if you stay at capacity without trying to make room for more, it’s a recipe for stagnation.
How to break out of the rut: Look for ways to expand your capacity. Consider adding partners or office space to accommodate more clients. Look at the possibilities of opening a new location. Your mindset should be, “We always have room for more.”
Boredom with Your Practice
You might be really, really good at your particular niche of the law, but let’s face it—if you keep doing the same thing the same way for too long, eventually you’ll start doing it in your sleep. Sometimes even the best attorneys get bored and dissatisfied simply because their particular type of law practice doesn’t inspire them anymore.
How to break out of the rut: Find a new angle. Find a new approach or a new service within your area of concentration. Consider adding a new aspect to your practice. Get some continuing education and look for ways to add more value to your clients. If none of these strategies lights a fresh fire under you, it may be time to get bold and look for a different concentration.
Ruts are quite common, even with some of the most innovative law firms. They’re easy to fall into, and not always easy to climb out of. Your best defense against ruts is to watch for the warning signs and be proactive. A thriving law firm should make you feel satisfied and content—but never comfortable.