Are you considering starting your own independent law firm, and are undergoing your preparatory due diligence? Or perhaps you are struggling with the ill effects caused by the inadequate training in business management that you received in law school. Now your practice is losing money, your stress is starting to rise and you are looking for solutions. Either way, if you are asking yourself how to manage a small law firm, you’ve come to the right place. I have some tips and advice for you to help get you sailing in the right direction out of the gate, or to right your ship and get it back on course.
How To Manage A Small Law Firm – Diagnosis
Generally speaking, law schools don’t equip their graduates with the necessary business skills to effectively run a law office. This can be very problematic for the young entrepreneur looking to establish his own independent practice, and can very easily result in high stress and lost revenue, or even worse.
It’s no wonder that so many young lawyers leave the business after only a few years. The headaches and challenges of management simply prove to be too much. Let’s take a look at some solutions to your management issues and highlight where you likely need to focus your attention in order to achieve happiness and success together in the same package.
How To Manage A Small Law Firm – Remedy
Large and established law firms are likely going to hire a management team to deal with these issues, so these solutions aren’t for them. They are for you: the enterprising entrepreneur who is cultivating his own success with an independent practice, or the small firm looking to sharpen up their game.
Let’s get started shall we.
You’ve Got To Get With The Flow
And by flow, I’m referring to your document workflow management . You simply must be organized in this regard, and this means keeping everything related to a case in one specific location. One file on a server, for example. This will help you know where every document is at all times, and who touched it last. However, you should maintain separate files for evidence and work product.
Don’t Be Late, Your Practice Depends On It
The American Bar Association (ABA) has found that calendar and deadline related mistakes account for most legal malpractice claims. This is due to the sometimes overwhelming amount of data to keep track of. Each court has their own requirements and rules regarding when documents need to be submitted, there are all the various federal and state holidays which have to be considered, as well as your own personal business schedules.
These all come into play when planning deadlines, and there is no margin for error here. Missing a deadline can result in fines, sanctions or worse, depending on the matter and jurisdiction.
The solution is to purchase appropriate software that allows you to compute and track deadlines according to your specific criteria. Do your research and consider it an investment in your firm’s success. There are some excellent law practice management software packages out there that are designed to manage your case and client’s records, billing and booking, scheduling and appointments, deadlines, and any compliance requirements with document retention policies and courts’ electronic filing systems. Have a look here for some 2015 reviews of some of the top packages available.
If you are having concerns about the costs of such software and case management software, consider the increases in efficiency in your office, and the time you can save by applying the correct legal application every time. The idea here is to reduce as much time wastage as possible.
Get A Plan Stan To Set Yourself Free
You wouldn’t advise a client to invest in a company that didn’t have a clear business plan, so please do take your own advise. You don’t need to create a 100-page tome. A business plan that has the seven essential elements is going to be your foundation, and see you through any down times and guide you towards success.
Juuust the Right Amount
I’ve spoken on the subject of marketing and its importance to the life of your firm in other articles, so now its time for a quick note on the other side of this issue. Hopefully, your strategies are working and you have a steady flow of clients, so now you must learn to say no.
You have to carefully manage your client inflow, so that you don’t take on too many cases and dilute your ability to provide the exemplary service that you want to be known for. Taking on many cases can sound like a good thing, but you must make sure to strike an appropriate balance that allows you to have enough time to spend in rest, and doing the other things that you love to do. Otherwise, you risk burnout and you won’t be able to sustain your energy and success over the long haul.
Decide On An Effective Price Strategy
In order to gain the necessary objective perspective to properly arrive at reasonable price points, you need to take a step back and try to remove your ego from the equation. An effective way to do this is to view the situation as the services your firm is offering rather than the services you are offering personally.
From this position you can then decide what your gross and net revenue goals are. Divide this by the number of cases you want to work, and there you have the fee you should charge. To determine an hourly wage, simply divide the net or gross goal by the number of hours you want to work.
This simple process will give you some numbers to work with, so you take the guess work out of the process. One other alternative is to base your wage on the return on investment (ROI) to your client. Determine your price, and make a plan that will give your client the appropriate return and value.
How To Manage A Small Law Firm – Final Thoughts
Suffice to say, it is imperative that you manage your firm with care and attention. If you do so, you will one day have the budget you need to hire a team while you can focus on the things that matter to you most deeply.
If you have any questions or comments, please do leave them below.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!