7 Year End Tips to Grow Your Law Firm

December 7, 2017 Scott Sanders
  1. Take a day for a year-end review.

The end of the year is a good time to look back at the past year and make goals for the year ahead. For many law firms, December has a little less work as clients delay seeking legal services around the holidays. Take a day to get away from the distractions of the office and focus on working on the firm, not in it. Have an agenda to go through, whether you are a solo or if you with other partners and staff. Items to consider are:

  • Review the financials and KPIs for the last year. Did you reach your goals? If not, why?

  • If you don’t have one already, create a vision for your firm. What is your purpose?

  • Develop goals for the upcoming year. Don’t settle for smaill goals; stretch yourself. What changes will you make in the firm so that you can reach them?

  1. Consider a niche.

If you are a general practice law firm, consider a niche. It takes a lot of work to become an expert in one practice area; it is impossible to be an expert at everything. You may be concerned about losing money by turning business away but there are many advantages to having a niche.

  • You can charge higher fees. People will pay more for the services of an expert than they will a general practitioner. This is true in law, accounting, medicine or any other field.

  • You will have less competition.

  • You will get better referrals. Other attorneys can refer cases to you and they don’t have to worry about you taking business from them. You will immediately come to their mind if they have a case for which you would be a good fit.

  • Your marketing is easier. You can market to a particular ideal client, instead of trying to reach everyone.

  • This does not mean that you would never take a different type of case, but you need to focus on one or two areas.

  1. Develop a marketing plan. 

Marketing is the most important aspect of your firm. If you don’t have clients, there are no legal services to deliver. Your office, your website, even the way that your receptionist answers the phone should be carefully crafted to attract new clients. Click here to see an article that shows the best marketing strategy for each common practice area.

  1. Evaluate your intake process. 

The intake process is the front door of a prospect’s association with your firm. You need to make sure that you have strong processes in place to make sure that you collect the information that you need. You want the prospect to have a good first impression of your firm. You also need to be able to do a conflict check as well as determine whether you should take on a particular case.

  1. Implement practice management software 

Practice management software allows you to be more productive, and accordingly to make more money. According to the 2017 Clio Legal Trends Report, attorneys are only spending 2.3 hours out of an 8 hour workday on billable tasks. Most of the other time goes to administrative tasks or client development. If an attorney could convert just one hour per day of that non-billable time to billable, at a $250 hourly rate that would mean $62,500 more revenue in a year. Clio is the practice management software that I recommend. It helps you to:

  • Manage cases

  • Track time

  • Streamline your billing

  • Take credit card payments

  • Have access to your data wherever you are

  1. Develop a good accounting system. 

It is vital for a law firm to have a strong accounting system. A law firm has features to its accounting that are different than any other industry. Law firms maintain an IOLTA account in which they hold client’s money. There are very strict guidelines in how these accounts must be handled. Failure to handle them properly could subject the attorney to discipline by their state bar. It is also important that all the time and expenses are billed properly and that the fees are collected. The financial statements and KPIs should be monitored regularly to access the firm’s performance. You always need to know your cash position so that you can pay your bills. Contingency fee firms must account for their advance case costs properly. Law firms need to have accurate amounts for their tax returns as well. It is important to have an accountant who is knowledgeable and experienced in working with law firms. I recommend Xero for accounting software. It integrates well with Xero and it give you a real-time look at your finances. You also have access to it wherever you are.

  1. Enjoy the holidays. 

Enjoy the holidays with your family. Take some time off to recharge and get ready to make the new year the best one ever for you and your firm. I wish you the best as you build your firm and fulfill your vision.

Please contact me at 205-313-6490 or at scott@sandersaccountingfirm.com if you would like to have a strategy session to discuss your firm and to see if my services would be a benefit to your firm.