Finding the Next Page for Your Law Firm
The Keys to Success Don't Always Work.
While the topics remain the same, the solutions do not. Time, size, and competition reshape what you want, who's involved, and the paths available to you. Most firms reach a plateau--or more often, a hard ceiling--where the techniques for success begin to diminish. The key is to recognize this before the old strategies fail you.
Common challenges that many mid-sized law firms, including 50-attorney law firms, might face include:
1. Client Retention and Acquisition: Can you articulate how much of your business requires new clients vs. retained current clients? How pervasive is the responsibility is it to build relationships? How are new clients finding you? How diverse are those sources, would you notice when they try up, and what would you do about it? Do you highlight who you are or who you help and how?
2. Internal Communication and Management: Your professional cohort cannot float like islands unto themselves. Cohesion between practice groups, locations, and/or your legal team has to be practical and meaningful. Long, performative meetings and isolation can create the same response: Why am I even here? Purpose and value are created by plans, not accident.
3. Workload Management: Workload isn't simply billable hours and average case value. Without the proper layering of work between paralegals and attorneys, resources are wasted. Every attorney who says "I'll just do it myself. I can do it quicker." when it comes to legal assistant/paralegal tasks slows the growth of the staff while artificially capping their own revenue.
4. Billing and Financial Management: Whether a contingency firm, flat-fee, or a complex array of billable hour attorneys, a strict structure is a necessity. Each step from completed work to billing, and then into fee collection should be mechanized. Each individual at the firm--involved with the legal matter--should know precisely where the client is in the process, what is being done to procure funds, and who is doing it.
5. Retaining and Attracting Talent: Retaining top legal talent and attracting new lawyers can be a challenge, especially with larger firms offering attractive compensation packages. Proper, functional structures for attorneys and staff can build a thoughtful, positive work environment. If opportunities for professional growth, and mentorship are not available, then the work becomes more mercenary in nature or simply relies on habits of those who are not looking elsewhere. Proper owner/partner leadership requires a long view of those working at the firm, where they will land over time, and how to handle that process. Ad hoc choices can be desasterous.
6. Market Competition and Differentiation: Every firm needs a good answer for the "why you?" question. Being sharp or cheap won't cut it. That just changes the question to "why not someone else as smart or cheap as you?" Standing out among other similarly-sized law firms can be challenging. An important part of developing a unique value proposition is to make the client feel heard and at home. Feeling comfortable in the right place goes a long way in making clients stay loyal to your business.
Challenges for a growing evolve in shape, if not topic. A firm's leadership requires a comprehensive approach, fostering a strong firm culture, to build for what is coming...not leave the business stuck in the past.