There’s plenty that can motivate the ambition to build a law firm: professional esteem, financial freedom, and the desire to make a life-changing impact on people’s lives. And then there’s the reality of running any business: effective law firm management can take an apparently unmanageable amount of work.
Managing a law practice well takes a spate of skills that probably weren’t covered in law school, like motivating employees, client management, and keeping up with the latest digital technologies. To promote employee retention and a healthier work/life balance—today, one of the young lawyers’ biggest complaints—law firms need strategic systems and management practices in place.1
Below, we’ll offer six steps for managing and growing your law practice so that you can sculpt it into the successful, impactful law practice you dreamed of.
#1 Embrace Long- and Short-Term Planning
It can feel easy to lose track of long-term objectives when you’re focused on all the time-sensitive tasks on your agenda, but planning for your future goals is key for championing your businesses’ longevity.
To help keep your legal practice’s growth on track, try getting concrete about what indicators exhibit success to you, your team, and your clients. These could be:
- Expanding your staff
- Doubling your client base
- Hiring more staff
- Generating more revenue
- Increasing case successes by at least 30% each year
Once you’ve made a list of your long-term goals, start identifying small steps to achieve them. So, if you want to hire more staff, maybe you need to increase revenue by a certain percentage. Until then, it might make sense to use a virtual answering service rather than a full-time employee.
Whatever your long-term goals, creating short-term game plans and ways of meaningfully tracking them can help you achieve them incrementally.
#2 Implement a Marketing Plan
Many law professionals would rather focus on the work they’re passionate about than spend time promoting the law firm or worrying about back-end business processes. But creating and implementing a marketing strategy plan can help clients in need find your legal services.
Experts recommend the following steps for law firms looking to improve their marketing strategy:2
- Hone your visual branding – Looks aren’t everything, but clear, consistent branding across platforms can help potential clients recognize, recall, and trust your law firm.
- Polish your website – Many people’s first impression of a business comes down to their experience on their website. Your online homepage should clearly indicate the services you provide and the qualifications that set you apart from competitors. Websites should also be easily navigable so that client leads can easily contact you for a consultation. It’s important that your phone number, an inquiry form, and even possibly web chat are available so potential clients can contact you.
- Leverage your email list – Sending out a shareable email newsletter can be an effective measure of self-marketing. It also delivers external value to clients beyond the services they paid for, reinforcing client relationships and drawing new leads by word-of-mouth.
- Expand your online reach – You can try to augment brand awareness by housing free content online and leveraging SEO. Blogging regularly, using relevant keywords in your content, or optimizing your “Google My Business” account can all shore up your discoverability as a business.
Remember, it can be incredibly difficult to micro-manage a team in the law field, but by setting gradual benchmarks, you’ll make gradual gains even as you juggle the more pressing aspects of your work. Be sure you are finding the best ways to manage your law firm.
#3 Economize Day-to-Day Processes
Many of us feel like we’re not working as efficiently as possible but have trouble putting our finger on exactly what we can do to improve our work habits.
Try spending a week recording everything you do–especially your repetitive and administrative tasks—and how much time it takes. Then ask yourself questions about where you could economize. You can try:
- Blocking off chunks of time to focus deeply on complex tasks without interruption
- Re-organizing meetings so they run more efficiently
- Building in small breaks for your brain to recharge
- Implementing new organization and communication technology to reduce redundancy and making it easier to work smoothly with your team
- Delegating time-intensive tasks that other people could handle, such as administrative tasks
You may want to talk to the rest of your team about areas where they feel they could improve their efficiency and what’s holding them back. Often, misspent time and effort comes down to a lack of triage—and there are resources available for delegating those smaller (but absorbing) tasks taking away from the bigger picture.
#4 Delegate Smaller But Critical Tasks
A recent report showed many attorneys at small law firms felt they spent too much time on things like administrative tasks, trying to keep up with new legal technology, and inefficient office processes.
If that sounds like you, it’s likely time to delegate some of that work by:3
- Selecting tasks other people can fulfill that don’t require a rarified skill set
- Assessing your staff member’s strengths so that you can capitalize on everyone’s unique qualifications in the workplace
- Outsourcing certain tasks, such as hiring a marketing firm to run your social media and website or a virtual answering service to take time-consuming administrative tasks off your plate
To maintain quality control, review the work of whoever you delegate your tasks to—an important step in ensuring they’re meeting your internal standards, and that you can provide training if they require support or monitoring.
Initially, delegating can feel like it takes extra time, but sticking to a training schedule (or hiring support from outside your network) can save your firm valuable resources in the long run.
#5 Invest In Your Team
Like marketing, managing your employees isn’t necessarily a skill set covered in law school. But learning how to coax the best out of your employees can help improve your whole law firm. You can set a higher standard for firm management by focusing on:4
- Providing honest feedback – Giving honest, constructive feedback—including praise, when it’s earned. Helping individuals refine their expertise is as critical for fortifying individual careers as it is for improving the culture and successes of your firm.
- Building rewarding relationships – Try spending quality time with your employees. Having positive relationships with your staff can motivate them to deliver their best work.
- Offering career-building resources – Employees who don’t feel supported in the workplace may cost you staff and loyalty in the long run. Investing in your staff may mean providing trainings, opportunities for continuing education, or 1:1 mentorship. Company initiatives can also create a healthier company culture, like encouraging more transparent communications or crowd-sourcing ideas to promote the work/life balance.
Remember, in addition to improving your work environment, a reputation for good management can help you attract excellent candidates the next time you’re looking to hire.
#6 Use a Virtual Answering Service
If you want the benefits of excellent management without having to take it all on by yourself, consider outsourcing certain types of work. The American Bar Association recommends that law firms looking to spend less time on busy work consider hiring a remote receptionist service.3
Virtual answering services can help ensure you’re offering your clients immediate, friendly, competent support as soon as they reach out. Virtual answering services also take work off your plate, so you can focus on being the absolute best lawyer you can be.
That said, not all answering services offer the same solutions. Some may simply assign each call randomly among a pool of dozens to a hundred receptionists based on who’s available rather than familiarity and client-specific training. So, when you’re comparing virtual answering services, we recommend looking for one with the following qualifications:
- Bilingual receptionists – We recommend receptionists who speak both Spanish and English so that you can support as many clients as possible.
- Smaller teams trained on your firm’s offerings – Receptionists specifically trained to understand and accurately represent your firm’s offerings help deliver a positive client experience right from “Hello.” A small team—less than 10, like those at Abby Connect—provides better coverage while ensuring calls are answered by someone who prioritizes your firm’s needs, goals, and ideal client experience.
- Accurate and efficient – You want receptionists who collect all of the information you’ll need within the first call so that no one has to waste time on an inefficient, awkward callback.
- 24/7 availability – Whether you need a receptionist service 24/7, or only during certain hours, a receptionist service that offers a wide range of scheduling options can help you support the firm’s needs now and if they change over time.
- Flexible pricing plan – Not every firm needs the same type or level of support. A receptionist service that offers different packages can help you choose the exact level of support you need and give you room to grow in the future.
- Proven track record of customer care – Experience and expertise count. Whenever possible, choose a receptionist service with a proven track record of expert customer care supported by a dedicated account manager.
If the above qualities sound like exactly what you’re looking for to take your law firm to the next level, consider hiring Abby Connect.
Support Your Firm and Your Clients with Abby Connect
Voted one of CLUTCH’s top attorney answering services, Abby Connect can connect your growing firm with a dedicated virtual receptionist team it will trust.
We save you time and money by matching you with experienced receptionists who’ll deliver the caliber of work you’d expect from your own team. And their impact only improves with time, as our customer success managers work alongside them to ensure they’re trained on your firm’s needs, goals, and branding for perfect call handling.
No other virtual receptionist team provides Abby Connect’s level of service and customization—they’d rather randomly assign your calls to a pool of dozens of untrained receptionists than seamlessly integrate with your in-house operations and workflows.
Treading the balance between workload and life is one of the highest-ranking complaints of attorneys today.1 Let Abby take some of the workload, so you can get back to doing what you do best—becoming one of the most trusted law businesses in your community.
- ABA Journal. Would millennial lawyers trade pay for better work-life balance? A significant percentage say yes. https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/would-millennial-lawyers-trade-pay-for-better-work-life-balance-a-significant-percentage-say-yes
- Forbes. Effective Marketing For Law Firms: A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Your Clientele. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2022/02/18/effective-marketing-for-law-firms-a-step-by-step-guide-to-growing-your-clientele/?sh=1880ac019de4
- American Bar Association. Strategies to Grow Your Small Law Firm. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2019/september-2019/strategies-grow-your-small-law-firm/
- Forbes. Five Simple Tips For People Management. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/01/20/five-simple-tips-for-people-management/?sh=72786ccce1d2