To grow a successful law firm, you need more than just strong legal skills. You need to be a business-savvy, resilient, and smart manager who can effectively delegate tasks. You also need to surround yourself with the right team and possess strong sales and marketing skills. And, while you might have great contacts and enjoy organic growth initially, that organic growth will likely only get you so far. Often, you will need the assistance of an outside support network to truly expand your firm.
Virtual Legal Services Firm Founded During the Pandemic
My company, delegate.legal, helps lawyers develop growth strategies. I founded delegate.legal during the pandemic in response to changing demands in the legal industry. delegate.legal provides an array of virtual legal services, including paralegal, virtual assistant, growth planning, and technological services. We work primarily with boutique and small firms as well as with solo practitioners who are looking to expand their practices. Critical to our work is getting our clients to trust us–and to learn to delegate tasks to us, so they can better focus on their practices.
Common Pitfalls Lawyers Face When Growing Their Law Firms
In working with lawyers, we see some common pitfalls that disrupt expansion plans. For one, lawyers often try to take on everything themselves–from marketing and filing to drafting form documents. Delegating away tasks does not always come naturally, but it can free up valuable time. Lawyers also often fail to set up the right processes. For instance, when starting a new firm, attorneys will often answer their phone, complete their own intake form, and then tackle the project. While good intentioned, this slows down the overall system: if you assume that answering ten calls a day and completing intake forms takes two hours, those are two lost billable hours and two hours that aren’t generating revenue.
Seven Steps to Help Lawyers Grow Their Law Firms
Thankfully, there are strategies to overcome the initial startup pitfalls, and we’ve provided seven proven steps to help lawyers grow their law firms:
- Develop a clear brand: Before you do anything else, you need to consider how you want to be known to potential clients. Do you have expertise in a particular area of law, or are you a generalist? Are you skilled at mediation and settling cases? Or are you an expert trial attorney? Have you worked with prestigious clients and Fortune 500 companies? Remember, your brand represents the personality of your law firm. Make it memorable and clear, removing the need for potential clients to engage in any guesswork.
- Develop a growth plan and strategy: Now that you’ve got a brand, you need to think about where you want to be in one year, three years, and five years. Do you want to open an office or maybe multiple offices? Do you want to have a certain number of clients or to be earning a certain amount of money? Once you’ve identified your goals, you need to come up with a strategy for how to get there and a plan for how you’ll measure your success in meeting those goals along the way. A business plan is a great way to map out a growth plan, and this can include revenue goals and how many employees you want to hire.
- Market your firm: You also need to come up with a marketing plan to help you reach the right people. There are a gazillion marketing tactics, available for businesses, including advertising on billboards, blogging, hosting community events, presenting at conferences, engaging in cross promotion, sending direct mail, buying Facebook Ads, creating content on social media, speaking on podcasts, engaging in referral marketing, hosting special events, and publishing thought leadership pieces, to name a few. Importantly, you’ll need to think about where your target audience is and which marketing tactics will best reach them.
- Network, network, network: Remember that everyone in your circle likely knows a potential client. Therefore, networking is critical. Networking also helps you to expand your circle and keeps you informed about developments within your industry.
- Delegate when you can: When you are growing a law firm, you must be able to manage the work that comes in the door. So, make sure you have staffed your firm accordingly. This might mean hiring support staff or more lawyers. Or it might mean engaging an outside vendor to help with certain tasks (i.e., answering calls, filing court documents, organizing discovery) that are taking you away from your legal work.
- Set up the right processes from the start: Make sure you set up the right processes and find the right technologies to support you. For example, automate your intake forms. If your phone rings, you should have an intake form with fields that automatically link into a practice management workflow. This should be able to automatically create an engagement letter. From there, you can efficiently engage the client and start working on their case. Automation of this sort is an important component of a well-developed tech stack and will allow your practice to run with minimal human interaction, which frees up time for billable work. After all, you can’t grow a law firm if you can’t manage the workload.
- Outsource smartly: Lawyers need to delegate tasks to grow. At delegate.legal, for instance, we provide a virtual assistant and paralegal services, which many lawyers, who don’t have the ability or desire to hire someone for full time, find useful. This provides a great way for lawyers to engage assistance as needed, so they can focus on their billable tasks and revenue generation.
My name is Jessica Anvar, and I am the Founder and Managing Partner of the Lemon Law Experts, a prominent California lemon law firm. I...
Growing pains are natural, but by implementing these tips you can minimize them and grow your firm more quickly and efficiently. Importantly, don’t take on everything yourself–ask for help and remember to delegate when necessary.