Law Firm Success
Life experience is the best teacher. You learn more from the things that happen to you rather than anything you will hear about or study.
At Legal Interact we are proud of our heritage. Our lengthy period of service to the legal industry has provided us with great experiences which we have been able to apply in delivering software to the legal market. Since the early 80’s when we entered the market, we have adapted to the new challenges and the changing paradigms of legal technology and process improvements. We are constantly listening to our clients and with our multi-disciplinary team of legal and accounting professionals, we are continuously improving our software to assist law firms making them more efficient, effective, and profitable.
It is with this expertise in mind, that we share our insights as to what makes a law firm successful.
Treating your law firm as a business
Legal professionals enter the profession because they have a passion for law, but ultimately a law firm is a business and should be operated as one. There are many factors that lead to a business being and sustaining its success. Whilst it may seem a tedious task to manage your business, your commodity is knowledge and experience which is measured in time. Using your time effectively and being able to receive the information you need to make informed decisions will reduce the tedium and even make monitoring your business’ growth a passion in itself.
Money / Profits as an indicator of success
Showing a healthy profit and bank balance is a sure way of acknowledging the success of your business. There are however many factors that speak into the bottom line, here are just a few.
May be a buzz word but brand awareness is ever more important in this digital era.
Creating brand awareness is a key step in promoting your firm. It provides a public platform to set out and highlight the key differentiators that your firm brings in service and expertise from your competitors.
Brand awareness is not only the image of the firm (logo, stationery, and the like) but also the way you conduct your business affairs, being consistent in thought and action, living up to your word and the quality of legal services delivered to your clients.
An insightful, user-friendly website can also go a long way in promoting your business, not only around the areas of law specialised in but also recent successes achieved. It is a great platform for sharing knowledge on current legal interest areas and testimonials from clients.
Everyone wants to deal with people at the top of their game. The new world has created an opportunity to use the online environment to your advantage and provides an incredible way to scale trust in the market you serve through the messages you share.
Positioning yourself and your team members as thought leaders will build trust in your clients. Whilst this article advocates using social media and other platforms to gain new business, retaining existing clients is much easier. Referral business from these clients is vital in increasing your client base and trust drives this.
A healthy client base will consist of corporates and individuals; providing short and long-term solutions ensures a constant flow of income and will aid in maintaining a healthy cashflow.
The tricky part of selling legal services is that it is intangible. Brand visibility and corporate identity provide a method for differentiating your business. An amplification of your online voice through sharing a view of your firm’s ‘personality’ and more importantly the people within the firm, will make your brand more relatable to the audience you want to reach.
A strategic view to social media with visibility on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will ensure you are communicating with the new generation as they mature to adulthood and lead to an ever-growing customer base.
Traditionally internal processes in law firms have been manual. Technology and the automation of repetitive routines can provide efficiencies and simplify actions. The human resource by default becomes more effective and therefore has more time available to focus on their speciality of law.
Efficiencies come in many forms within the legal space:
- Research platforms provide an online library to aid in reducing investigation time and can provide daily updates on the latest information in the legal space.
- Automated technological solutions can reduce human error and protect the firm’s reputation, limiting financial damage and assist in managing risk in your business.
- A reliable Cloud solution makes internal, matter related information instantly available from anywhere.
Technological innovations can give your firm the edge. Employing a proper practice management tool will keep you a step ahead of your competitors.
The current economic situation means that everyone is watching their budgets. The cost of legal expertise can deter engagement. Special billing arrangement and alternative legal services can create opportunities to attract new business. Thoughtful consideration and innovation of rigid billing methods can address this challenge. Be sure however, to use technology to aid in tracking these arrangements to avoid falling foul of applying them as agreed.
A lot of potential clients are turning to mediation rather than employing legal services and the challenges around the courts have driven this. Clients want their matters resolved as quickly as possible at the lowest price possible. Legal technology drives project management techniques in legal matter management, whilst aiding in control of your firm’s finances to achieve a healthy cash flow.
Outsourcing non-core functions like HR and IT services to external specialist will ensure you can focus on the fundamental purpose of your business. It provides security in these services and prevents distractions from billable time being affected by system down-time and internal labour related issues. Matching the right person to the right role will get the best results from the available billable hours. Implementing multi-disciplinary teams assist with day-to-day resource challenges.
Mental health has become a significant topic of discussion amongst legal professionals. Stress, alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression are some of the most common diseases associated with the legal sector. This does not only affect the person but their working life and ultimately the profitability of the business they work for as well.
The nature of discussion around these issues is not easy to address, as often a stigma of shame is created. These are a real phenomenon and should be tackled and dealt with immediately. Having open and honest group sessions on how to deal with the stress of everyday life will benefit everybody in your business. Creating a healthy, emotionally mature staff compliment to support you, is key to staying on top.
In conclusion, law firm success can never be judged only on the bottom line. There is a myriad of integral parts that determine success and taking a long hard look at how you address these will ensure the longevity of your law firm.
A starting position is to look at your current internal processes, systems, and the people in your firm and evaluate where you can improve.
Legal Interact can assist you in gaining insight into your firm and the performance thereof. A good practice management tool will assist in not only measuring your legal professionals and support staff, but also highlight areas of concern.
Success is reliant on technology. If you would like to learn more on how to use tech tools appropriately, you can download our e-Guide or schedule a call with us at +27 719 2000 to discuss how we can assist you in promoting success in your law firm.