Are you a lawyer with years of experience and an entrepreneurial spirit? If so, you might be thinking about starting your own practice. With so many legal cases going through the courts every year, it’s guaranteed to be successful. Right?
The truth is those thinking about opening a new law firm have their work cut out for them. The competition is stiff; most cities are dominated by massive law firms employing hundreds of people. These firms have impressive marketing budgets and the lion’s share of clientele.
With that said, the world is full of so-called boutique law firms that manage to succeed alongside the big boys. By offering quality legal work at lower prices, smaller law firms can carve out a niche for themselves in virtually every setting.
It also doesn’t hurt to ensure your newly minted practice utilizes several resources, tools, and techniques for improving its chances of success. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six essentials for running a successful law firm:
Investment in technology
Law is an ancient concept. Lawyers have been around for thousands of years. The courts operate the same way they did 100 years ago. With this in mind, it might seem as though state-of-the-art technology is irrelevant and unnecessary, but nothing could be further from the truth. Technology gives law firms an advantage in virtually every facet of their operation.
It streamlines everything from booking appointments to investigative processes. If you’re still not convinced, consider how your competition – especially the larger firms – are always making the most of technology. Don’t make the mistake of being left behind before getting started.
24/7 answering service
The first thing most potential clients will do is call your law firm to get a feel for what you have to offer. Rather than solely relying on a receptionist during normal business hours, invest in a 24/7 attorney answering service as a way to remain accessible regardless of the time of day. Agents are trained to have a thorough understanding of what you offer and provide potential clients with the information they need to decide whether or not to book an appointment.
While the names that appear on your advertising get all the attention, every lawyer knows the lifeblood of a law firm is ultimately the staff supporting the partners and associates. With this in mind, take the time to ensure your administrative assistants, paralegals, and office managers are exceptionally skilled at what they do.
It might seem like relatively minor responsibilities, but these individual duties add up to a significant portion of what makes your law firm run smoothly. Don’t make the mistake of hiring inexperienced friends and family to work the phones and process clients. Hire skilled professionals.
This goes without saying but still needs to be said. The partners you bring on board will make or break the firm. Like with staff, it’s essential to avoid choosing people based on loyalty and familiarity. If they’re qualified, that’s great, but if they’re subpar candidates, do the right thing and find partners that will provide the utmost in terms of acumen, expertise, professionalism, and prowess.
As mentioned earlier in the article, your competition has the edge when it comes to marketing. Your daily commute to-and-from the office will confirm that fact in the form of several billboards along the way. While you probably can’t afford commercial spots and outdoor advertising, these aren’t the only options at your disposal. Consider investing in digital marketing for your law firm in the form of search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), content marketing, and “old-fashioned” email.
Honesty and integrity
Every lawyer must take an oath to uphold the professional obligations and ethical standards of their profession. These oaths may vary from state to state and country to country, but they all boil down to the expectation that attorneys practice law with honesty and integrity.
Similar to how doctors swear to always act in the best interest of their patients, lawyers must swear to do the same for their clients. What’s more, they make an oath to operate within the confines of the law and are held to a higher standard due to their intimate knowledge of the law. The men and women working for you are no exception.
Opening a law firm might seem impractical and impossible, but that’s not true. While you’re bound to encounter obstacles and setbacks, they won’t impede your success if you do the right things.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, finance, and travel.