How to grow a law firm

4 Steps Lawyers Need To Take Today To Grow Their Law Firms

It is very common for lawyers to overwork and get to the point of burnout. Burnout affects our personal and professional lives negatively, not to mention the long-lasting effects it can have on our mental and physical health. Lawyers who do this are on the opposite of working smart.

 

We’ve all heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder” but what does it really mean? First of all, in a field where burnout is considered “normal” as it happens in the legal professionwe must learn how to implement this ideology of working smart before it’s too late. We need to learn to work “on the law firm”, versus “in the law firm”. 

 

Here are tips on how to start implementing this:

 

  1. Think about your highest value 

As a law firm owner, this is an important exercise that we advise you to do from time to time, as things evolve and change. We suggest you to: grab a piece of paper and write down the things you do on a weekly basis that bring the most value to your firm. Value can be measured by the most amount of clients, the most exposure, recognition, money, etc. The options are endless, that’s why you need to define your own value for your firm, it’s personal and you are the only one who can dictate what it is. 

 

I’ve defined my highest value, now what? 

 

Defining your law firm’s highest value can help you dictate your direction, it’s like setting the ground before you start working smart. See it as a map for your business’s future decisions. Without it, you’ll wander aimlessly and your efforts could be wasted. Or worse, you could be one of those many burned-out lawyers. Now that you have defined your firm’s highest value, you can decide what to pay attention to, and where to invest your energy. 

 

What’s the best way to invest your time while focusing on your law firm’s growth? 

 

First, let’s talk about the things that bring out our highest values and what they can look like. Let’s say that your highest value is your relationship with your clients. Examples of things that bring the highest value could be: connecting with clients, going to networking events, producing educational videos and content for social media, working on a marketing strategy, or doing legal work. 

 

Working smarter and NOT harder is closely related to spending your time on things of high impact to your law firm. It’s also the perfect recipe to avoid getting burned out. 

 

What role does time play in the “work smarter, not harder” philosophy? 

 

After you are done with the exercise above, the next step is to define how much time you are actually able to spend on things of high value to your law firm, as well as evaluate what other tasks are consuming too much of your time that are less important according to your law firm’s highest value. 

 

Make a list. See which tasks are consuming most of your time, are they administrative-type tasks? If so, can they be delegated? The answer to this question is almost always: yes! 

 

This is good news for you and your pocket, here’s why.

 

If you can hire a person to take on these tasks for $14 dollars/hour for example, while you can free up your time to work on things of higher impact, and bill much more as a result, then the real question should be: why not?! 

 

Stress and burnout happen as a result of thinking you need to do everything or most of it on your own, not allowing yourself to seek help. This couldn’t be farther from the truth and could hurt you physically and mentally in the long run, you’d be working harder, instead of working smarter. 

 

  1.  Your mindset is more important than you’d think 

 

How many times have you heard the phrase everything starts with the mind? And yes, it sounds like another corny quote, but let me ask you something; have you ever met, or known of a highly successful person who has a poor image of themselves and their potential? I haven’t. 

 

It’s true that we all have limiting beliefs we deal with on a daily basis that influence how we run our businesses, and this is why it’s so important to work on our mindset.  As an example, we can mention those lawyers who struggle with trusting others and aren’t able to delegate much because they think it’s better done by themselves. These lawyers aren’t working smart, don’t be one of them. 

 

It’s humanly impossible to grow a business alone and unfortunately, we can’t duplicate ourselves. Getting to the point where you can delegate is absolutely necessary for your firm’s growth and for your own sanity. Trusting other people to take on minor tasks is part of having a good, business-oriented mindset, it’s what lawyers who work smart do. 

 

On top of that, do you remember what we said about the highest values? There is no way you can have time to focus on things that bring up those values to your firm if you don’t free up your agenda by delegating. Working harder would mean doing all those things by yourself, working smarter means delegating those tasks while focusing on the bigger, money-making activities that you actually enjoy doing. 

 

Questioning your own beliefs and incorporating new beneficial ones is the path to professional and personal growth. 

 

 

  1. Free up your time by Delegating as much as possible

 

This is a crucial lesson if you want to start working smarter. Time is the most precious resource we have. I would argue that the present time is the only thing we have. Yesterday has already passed and tomorrow is unknown. So how you choose to use our present time dictates your success and happiness. 

 

The challenge is: you are ONLY one person and there are ONLY 24 hours in a day. Ideally, a large portion of those 24 hours are hopefully allocated to sleeping and personal and family activities, and if this is not the case with you, this is one more reason why you need to start delegating. 

 

Let’s say you are spending 8 hours/day working on/in your firm. How many hours are you spending on activities that can be handled by someone else? 

 

A few examples of activities that can be delegated by a Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Intake Client Specialist are:

 

-Answering all incoming calls

-Performing Intake and eligibility screening

-Scheduling consultations

-Preparing and sending Invoices

-Following up with clients on documents needed for a specific case

-Scheduling and confirming appointments 

-Doing legal research 

 

As a business owner, transferring work to people whose skills better fit the task(s) is a way to improve the efficiency of your business. It doesn’t make much sense to have the CEO or the founder’s attorney doing the administrative work. CEOs always work smart. On the other hand, you can help others by giving them the ability to learn and develop new skills and have these tasks not fall on your scope of work; it can also be a good strategy for supportive leadership.

 

In your law firm, you can delegate clerical tasks such as following up with clients, doing some legal research for cases, or drafting correspondence and legal documents such as contracts. 

Calling clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors can be time-consuming, and delegating these tasks will allow you to bill more hours while growing your practice.

 

  1. Invest in technology for your law firm 

 

Every business needs to invest in technology, especially law firms. The first thing that comes to mind when speaking about technology is fancy software, but in reality, technology is anything that helps us do something in a much simpler, easier way, whether it’s digital or not. The aim of using technology in your law firm is to, you guessed it, work smart, and with that, eventually translate it into saving time and money. 

 

If you’re starting small, software can help you organize your important documents in an easy way. Eventually though, you’ll need more than just software, you’ll probably need a better organizing system that allows you to not only find documents quickly, but also have a quick brief idea of everything that is related to that file. For example, let’s say you’re about to talk to a client about their case, but remembering every detail and update about that specific case would require taking a lot more time to study each case, and that would mean you would have to take fewer cases in order to be much more invested in each one of them. 

 

A way to accelerate this process is by having a legal case management system in place where everyone updates all information and documents related to a case, and anyone can quickly have access to that info before a client calls. Examples of these are App4Legal, Clio, Prima Law, etc. 

 

This will not only make you feel more prepared for each case, but will make your clients feel like you care about them, and that you’re invested in finding a solution for them. Don’t be afraid of  using technology in any way, shape, or form. If it’s helping you save time and money, you’re doing it the right way, you’re working smarter. 

 

 

Always remember this… 

 

Growing your law firm doesn’t have to be hard, draining work that takes the life out of you. Sure, it’s a process that will require your energy, but knowing how to properly do it is essential so that you not only get to see it succeed, but also enjoy the process. We live in an era where being busy all the time is sadly glorified. Burnout isn’t and will never be something to look up to. On the other hand, we’ve all heard people talk about the work smart, not hard philosophy, but very few people know what this means in real life. We hope that by giving you a few explicit examples of what working smart really looks like, you understand how it works and how to implement it in every other aspect of your life as needed. 

In the legal world, where burnout is normalized and even expected, remember that you decided to become a lawyer because you’re passionate about it. Don’t let it become a burden because of the amount of work you’re taking in; don’t let your passion turn into an obstacle to your own happiness and well-being.

P.R.

Stafi team