Getting it done. That’s where good ideas can fall short. Making a list of action items is one thing. It’s another to start — and finish — checking those items off.
Earlier this year, our team rounded up a list of attorney “to-do’s” from law practice management experts across the country. As we head toward the close of 2015, that advice (collected here in a pithy infographic) is seeming particularly relevant. Here are a few of my favorite tips. Keep them in mind as you stare down your own end-of-year to-do’s and make plans for the new year.
1. Stop doing other peoples’ jobs. “Solo and small law firm attorneys often struggle with why and when they should bring people in to help, and the answers really aren’t as hard as they need to be. First, the why: You bring people in to help you so that you can make more money than it costs you to pay for their services. Next, the when: You bring in people to help when you are doing lower-value work that someone else should and could be doing. It might sound counterintuitive, but the best time for extra help is right from the very start of your business. Many functions of a law office, like answering phones, can be outsourced at a reasonable fee.” — Glen Malia, Malia Law
2. Reach out to widen your reach. “Think outside your own skill set to add value for your clients by associating yourself with other attorneys who have skills you don’t. You’ll not only provide an additional layer of care for your clients, but you’ll also increase your firm’s profitability and gain access to a whole bunch of new potential clients – without spending a penny!” — Ann Guinn, Ann Guinn Consulting
3. Understand how you are actually making money. “Many law firms consider themselves profitable if they are able to pay all of their expenses and are able to put money in their own pockets during the year. However, that is not the only measure of profitability. … To control growth and increase bottom-line profits, it is imperative to evaluate profit on a case-by-case basis or at a minimum by a particular type of law. How many hours were required to derive the fees generated?” — Deborah J. Schaefer, Certified Public Accountant and Computer Consultant
4. Modernize your practice with technology. “Unfortunately, two prevailing truths remain. 1. Too many attorneys think the acknowledgment of technology is as good as actually using it in their practice. 2. Too many others still do things manually or using piecemeal ‘hacks’ that are not nearly as good as the available software that can do it faster, better and cheaper.” — Nadine Weiskopf, Access Data
5. Ask five critical questions. “Introspection is a powerful and usually eye-opening way to learn who you are and where you want to go as an attorney and a practice owner. These are the questions I asked myself when starting my own practice, and I think they’ll work well for you also:
- What is my target market?
- What do I want to be hired to do?
- What do I need to learn to best serve my clients?
- How can I become visible and credible to my potential clients?
- What are my best referral sources?
Asking the right questions is just as important as having the right answers for your clients.” — Cordell Parvin, Cordell Parvin PC
Click here to see the “15 Ways to Seize a Better 2015” infographic.
Frank Strong is a communications director for the LexisNexis software and technology division based in Raleigh, NC. He’s a shepherd of sorts for the Business of Law Blog. Follow him on Twitter @Business_of_Law.