You also need to think about annual planning requirements for trust accounting. Depending on the area of law that you practice, you will be busy at different times of the year. We describe four growth strategies and use benchmarks of a sample of 150 law firms stemming from all Latin America to … Shrinking firms watched their revenue drop by about 54 percent. Forget the fancy words, you need a real, living, breathing plan which follows a structured approach to marketing & business development planning. All images, videos and graphics used on this website are dramatizations. The best strategies encompass all three. But it can’t be all unicorns and rainbows—it has to consider potential pitfalls, too. Law firm managers should think of these things if they want the company to grow. When you break down by those cohorts, though, between growing stable and shrinking firms, there is a big difference. While nothing is guaranteed in life or law, attorneys and firm management consultants say law firm strategic planning—that is, taking a step back and looking at the big picture—is essential to know where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how you will keep growing whether you’re a solo practitioner or at a large firm. Law firms facing rising costs, pricing pressure, and the need to invest in staff, resources, and service delivery are finding that growth is not as easy to achieve as formerly, and that market share must be wrestled from the competition. “To me, if you can keep them briefer and to the point, as opposed to carrying on and making these things too elaborate, they’ve got a much better chance of implementation.”, Related “The Importance of Long-Term Goals for Your Practice”, “If you’re going to get into family law going forward, you have to have some ideas about what success is going to look like before you launch it,” Caldwell says. “That will guide us as to whether we’re moving forward with respect to that strategic objective,” he says. In larger firms, top partners typically sit down, figure out where their practice has been growing and where it’s become stagnant, and decide whether and how to recast lines of business that fall into the latter category, Caldwell says. Another 20 percent fell into the shrinking category. (It's free!). This data was collected over a five-year period. “I go off-site and hibernate. He cautions smaller firms not to take on more than one or two significant strategic initiatives at one time. Law firms are operating in a highly competitive market, which also limits the growth of most organizations. Sign up for emails to get updates on Canadian Law and tips for resolving your legal issues. Your law firm growth strategy should be at the heart of everything you do at your firm to help grow your practice, so you need to make sure it is as useable and accessible as possible. Oakville Family Lawyer | Hamilton Family Lawyer | Scarborough Family Lawyer | Kingston Family Lawyer | Burlington Family Lawyer | Edmonton Family Lawyer | Mississauga Family Lawyer | London Family Lawyer | Ottawa Family Lawyer. What was once standard operating procedure for Baby Boomers or even Gen-Xers can now seem completely obsolete or anachronistic to Millennials. The lawyers listings on this site are paid lawyer advertising. This will lead to significant changes in revenue. I have met with many clients that didn’t think they had a real substantial difference from competitors that ‘played’ in the same space. Solo lawyers are also more likely to be included in these spot audits. You need to grow the number of billable hours you collect on per day. Your access to the website is subject to our, Difference Between A Lawyer And Paralegal, How To Deal With Being Disinherited By Parents. “It’s not something you do in one sitting, and you need somebody looking over your shoulder, whether that somebody might be your spouse or your staff person.”, Olmstead worked with a solo practitioner in Iowa who did not realize he was only paying his associate of 10 years a $60,000 salary – or that he himself had only cleared $20,000 the previous year. Do quality legal work and make sure you collect money. Because attorneys tend to enjoy discussion and debate, the process of putting together a law firm strategic plan can seem natural and appealing, Olmstead says. This is called by Clio the utilization rate. Where are they going to spend their business improvement efforts? Solo and small law firms are more likely to be selected for trust account audits. Then I come back and talk to the people I need to talk to, my bookkeeper, marketing person, other attorneys, to figure out how are we going to get there, and what do we need to do? It is part of a suite of strategies encompassing your law firm’s growth strategy, budget & marketing plan. You talk about client relationships at partner meetings and in business development training, but applying the concepts to client interaction can be challenging. Wilson’s strategic plans go out five years and attempt to project for each year the gross revenue, net income before taxes, the number of people he will employ, and numbers of matters he expects to handle. And that meant that about 60 percent of law firms operate in a stable environment. But how do they get there is a question that we started asking ourselves. McDougall gave the example of an accounting firm. Even though law firms might be busy at a very particular time of the year, their payment cycle is often drawn out. Where do I want to be in 24, 36 months?” he says. Lawyerist, Lawyerist Lab, TBD Law, Small Firm Dashboard, and. “When I say I ought to be seeing $300,000 in fee revenue per year, that’s an achievable number, and I’ve got some who are barely doing $100,000. Which law firm digital marketing growth strategy are you going to start with? David Ackert, the president of Ackert Inc., advises law firms to revisit the basics with more one-to-one marketing efforts versus mass marketing strategies. “Practice Management: Plan to Grow,” by Ed Finkel, was originally published in the March 2015 edition of the Illinois Bar Journal. The average waiting time is almost two and a half months. “Every day is filled with new opportunities and new curveballs.”. For smaller firms and solos, there’s always a temptation to do nothing but react to the moment, says Bill Wilson, principal at The Law Offices of Wilson & Wilson and The Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law, based in west suburban LaGrange. ClearWay Law is transitioning from being a law firm as of March 2020. That’s a problem from a cash flow point of view. “The process doesn’t change. “It’s hard to think long term when you can’t think through the current day.”. When you’re a high performer, the growth is monumental. Law Firm Growth Plans 4. Join this online seminar and learn how to increase growth in all of these specific areas. Growth Strategies for the Modern Law Firm Growth is an imperative for any successful business. Unless indicated, individuals on this site are not lawyers. It’s necessary at times, for the livelihood and success of the firm, to pop your head up, see what’s going on in the marketplace, and see whether your firm needs to make some changes.”. And then we lock ourselves up for a day or two in a retreat-type setting and basically work through the whole process.”, To measure law firm strategic planning success financially and otherwise, Jenner uses a range of metrics and compares performance throughout the year against the strategic plan, monthly, biannually, and annually, Truax says. You will need to develop a communication strategy and employ it to keep the entire program honest. In conclusion, if you are looking for growth strategies for law firms, we suggest you look at the 2019 Legal Trend Report. Growth Strategies for Law Firms #ClioWeb 2. Otherwise, it’s just one of those non-billable activities.”. It’s easy for firms to lose sight of the big picture as they’re working through day-to-day matters, says Terrence Truax, managing partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago. The need for law firm strategic planning doesn’t change,” John says. It’s part of your monthly workflow to be prepared for those audits. Law firms have a thirty-one percent utilization rate. This article proposes a process through which management can plan a law firm´s future, by defining a strategy and choosing a growth avenue. “People don’t engage with the same discipline because they’re doing work,” he says. “But then you’re just going to work each day and letting your environment dictate to you how you’re going to manage and work your law firm,” Wilson says. How can law firms stay relevant and competitive in this ‘new law’ era where many firms are doing things differently, and ensure that’s reflected in their long-term strategy? 1. Lack of strategic planning might not negatively impact a law firm as quickly as another type of business—say, a technology firm—because of the highly regulated legal environment, which provides a buffer of sorts from economic and other changes, Caldwell says. Every sector in the legal industry has felt the effects of COVID-19. Download The Visible Firm … This site does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and does not form any lawyer-client relationship. “Different approaches to strategic planning [for different-sized firms] would be appropriate,” he says. We love helping attorneys market their practice. “If they’re not using technology right, and they can’t even pull any basic reports to know how they’re performing financially, they can’t pull together reports as far as what they’re paying their people, if they don’t have a website or some of those basic things – and you’d be surprised how many don’t. Our law firm also combines client satisfaction into the mix. Law firms that grow intensively can experience problems maintaining strategic focus, structural alignment and personnel balance. — Start with a Goal. “To the extent you can reduce implementation down to metrics that let you know how much progress you’re making, that’s critical,” he says. Staying consistent is key to building your brand, and an integral part of this process. “In some of the smaller firms, especially, I’ve run across somewhere I’ve advised them, ‘You guys have so many tactical issues going on in the swamp; you’re trying to survive day to day. Lawyers are only billing about 2.5 hours a day. Law firm strategy is a future-proof plan that enables firms to prioritize objectives, remain competitive, and optimize financial goals. An insurance defense firm knows that they are going to be dependent upon business filed by personal injury lawyers or medical malpractice lawyers. “I need to do that where the phone isn’t ringing, or I’m tempted to look at my e-mails. © ClearWay Law 2020 – All rights reserved. It allows firms to differentiate themselves from the competition, reflecting both strengths and weaknesses. If you are an insurance law firm, for example, your business ramps up quickly all the way until the month of May. Growing firms are constantly improving their utilization rate. “It needs to get down to the nitty-gritty, hold people accountable for some of the action items you’re going to get done. The motivation of any firm in the pursuit of a particular growth strategy requires a study of the firm, its management’s challenges and its overall needs. You should first consider if it is the right time of year to grow your practice. Our team has worked with law firms for over two decades. In the legal services market, growth has stalled, corporate clients are taking their legal needs in house and independent law firms are losing their share of the market. “And then also, it’s important to get back to people in the organization with feedback about how things are going.”, Olmstead agrees. •You’re losing business because you can’t keep up with demand •You need/want to focus on certain aspects of your business rather than struggling to juggle everything Law Firm Growth Plans How to know when to hire your first employee by Charlene Jimenez in Business Entrepreneur - February 21, 2012 3. Unless indicated, individuals on this site are not lawyers. Because of this, you should be able to look at how busy you are throughout the year. Jenner has its practice broadly divided between litigation and business transactions groups, with several disciplines in each, and at the beginning of each year, each group develops its own strategic plan. Law firms on average are trying to work around an eight-hour day. Are you keeping on top of that aging receivable? His talks aren’t tailored to large firms because “they have a lot of their own educational systems—they hire some hotshots and bring them in and pay them a lot of money to walk them through the strategy,” he says. His career is highlighted by consistently providing the counsel and leadership critical to successful law firm transitions. If they’ve got 14 or 15 attorneys and don’t have an office manager in place,” they should take care of that first, he says. “That doesn’t mean you don’t react to the moment,” Truax adds. I told one guy, ‘I hate to say this, but your effective rate is $45 per hour.’ It involves internal analysis and benchmarking.”. Without them, you are probably making a series of ad hoc decisions and without even realising it, changing course and that can drastically limit your firm’s success. Growth Strategies for Law Firms- Cash Flow Is King You need to start figuring out a way to cut these getting paid waiting times down. Many provinces and states require both a monthly and annual trust check. Because in that month they are going to be focused on billable work. A Business Growth Strategyis a roadmap for growing your firm. “We ask all the basic questions any business enterprise would be asking. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for change is at the forefront of our agendas as law firms, lawyers, legal marketers … It might have to happen in a retreat setting. New Law Firm Strategies for Growth Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and After. Automate Processes. The courts are also now available again. You need to grow sales and still offer top quality service to clients. Not an Insider yet? Ask yourself if you are operating in a cadence that makes it easy for my clients to pay you. The most common law firm strategic planning issue facing firms in recent years has been how to respond to the economic shift in the legal market since the Great Recession, with fewer clients and a tighter bottom line, says John Olmstead, principal at St. Louis-based consultancy Olmstead & Associates. And so, having a cadence around account reconciliation is important. We love to help by providing free helpful content! And being prepared is important if you don’t want into trouble. A strategic plan provides “a guidebook where you’re intentionally doing things to get you to a certain point, instead of having clients or other external forces dictate to you where you’re going,” he says. If we are growing our revenue, but clients are not leaving 4-5 star reviews, there is a problem. “He sent me his numbers, and I’m looking at the financials, and they’re terrible,” he says. I have my own ideas, but they’re more down in the trenches and know a lot of things I don’t know, or forgot, or need to keep in mind.”, Firms should not confuse strategic planning with crisis management, Olmstead says. Related “Going Solo: Debunking the Top Ten Fears”, Sole practitioners face particular challenges, Olmstead says, because figuring out what they are trying to do and where they want to take their practice – and what steps they need to take to get there – ideally should not be a solo activity. You can then plan the best time to do business development. Now, we know not every lawyer uses trust accounting, but many lawyers do. A deep understanding of client needs. Focus On Gathering Data Once the bill was submitted to the client, they only collected about 1.7 hours out of an eight-hour day. We know in some jurisdictions that they give you a couple of day’s notice, but in other areas, it may be a surprise. The writing is on the wall. Register here. In order to be set up to succeed, marketing strategies for law firms need to begin with a clear definition of a unique and valued difference. Keep in mind that your firm’s areas of practice, expertise, capacities as well as culture, should all be taken into account when mapping out possible growth strategies. Until you do some things as far as operations in the short term, maybe you shouldn’t think about strategic planning,'” he says. You do the pre-work, financial review and analysis, beforehand. We can help you figure out which methods would be the best for your business. If your firm is still using Excel to categorize your leads and … “Sometimes what changes is the fundamentals and what’s going on, and what firms need to develop strategies to deal with. Managing Partner’s new report on Growth Strategies for Law Firms provides clear advice on the growth options available and expert guidance on the key factors you need to consider in order to tailor an effective strategy for your firm. But at the risk of generalizing, four non-strategic things prod law firm management into growth by non-organic methods. “If you’re wanting to grow your corporate law practice, maybe it’s the snagging of three to five major accounts, something that will let you know you’re getting a little bit closer to what the plan had set out for you.”, Be sure to assign responsibility for specific planks of the law firm strategic plan, Caldwell says. Posted by Jessica Haarsgaard and Ioana Good on Sep 4, 2020 12:00:00 PM Tweet . That’s why the best strategies take your time and focus on one at a time. “The process doesn’t change. Sign up for emails to get updates on Canadian law and tips for resolving your legal issues. The number one definition of growth for law firms is revenue. Define your law firm’s growth strategy Define your expected profits per partner over the short & long term Continuously monitor business performance and productivity metrics. With the vast competition law firms face to get new clients, your law firm needs a comprehensive marketing strategy to get found by clients, find new clients, and retain your current clients. Wilson finds it very important to “disconnect” when he creates his strategic plans, “meaning I get off premises,” he says. Topics covered will enable you to: Develop a simple model for defining your firm’s growth objectives; Change is among us in the legal industry. Should they focus on SEO or referrals? You need to be separated for a year before the divorce is approved. “The most effective revenue generation strategies across lawyer and firm demographics involve a one-to-one rather than a one-to-many approach,” Ackert said. Don’t put out bills when you know you won’t get paid. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and authored the 2002 book “Law Firm Strategy”. For example, Olmstead has worked with firms who have legal accounting software but need to hire a consultant to pull reports for them. It also helps you to make more money. Learn The Best Law Firm Marketing Strategies For BIG Growth . Strategies for Growing a Law Firm: Managing Partners on Developing a Growth Strategy, Recruiting New Attorneys, and Responding to Economic Challenges (Inside the Minds): Shaw, Brian L., Axinn, Stephen, Goldfein, Fredric L.: 9780314904171: Books - Related “Offer Unbundled Legal Services to Compete in Today’s Legal Market”, One current scenario that’s affecting consumer-oriented firms, in particular, is the trend toward websites that help people handle some of their own legal matters, Caldwell says. As the role of legal operations in a post-pandemic world remains somewhat hazy, one thing “I want to know: When are we going to do it, and whose name am I putting in the box, and when is this task going to start,” he says. “These obviously are all projected goals.”, Wilson considers his plans living documents that he revisits continuously to see how well the law firm’s strategic planning efforts are matching the vision laid out. Referral Tracking Via CRM Solutions. You need to compare what work your law firm has done and how long it takes clients to pay you. “If my plan is to increase estate administration and asset planning, and I see we’re putting too much time into real estate, I’m not adhering to my plan,” he says. The most common law firm strategic planning issue facing firms in recent years has been how to respond to the economic shift in the legal market since the Great Recession, with fewer clients and a tighter bottom line, says John Olmstead, principal at St. Louis-based consultancy Olmstead & Associates. We love to help by providing free helpful content! Below we will show you five business growth strategies for your law firm which will optimize your investments and maintain a steady flow of both business and profit. The latter is more urgent. “It requires the discipline to say, Friday afternoon, from noon to 5, we’re going to sit down, and not be billable, and work through some stuff about what we’re going to be when we grow up,” he says. In recent years, most of the challenges firms are having are the same, everything from pressure on the economics, to resistance from clients to fee increases.”. [The plans] go into books, they go on shelves, and very little happens as a result,” he says. It’s difficult to know which methods give you the best return on investment sometimes. “They’re fighting fires, meeting deadlines, getting things filed in court.” Plus, he adds, “They don’t have the resources to hire an expert to do it for them.”, Small firm attorneys need to pick out a time and day, on a regular interval, to pop their heads out and look around, Caldwell says. Where do we want to be in 12 months, and in five years?”, The plans are revisited throughout the year iteratively, Truax says, which “requires focus and discipline, making sure everybody stays on message. “The reason it’s important is that it’s a guide for a firm to keep on topic and on goals, so we can always look back and bring it up at a monthly meeting.”, The original content within this website is © 2020. “They have a choice to make—do we find other ways to get those dollars that we’ve lost to, or do we join that site?” he says. That goes for the law firm strategic planning document, too, Olmstead adds. For 30 years he has closely advised law firm management and legal industry service providers. Law firms can increase caseloads, employees, or efficiency. For latest updates please, follow our blog. What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? “But if there are aspirations for growth or skill sets within the law firm that simply aren’t as in demand as they used to be, you’re going to find yourself in a scenario where strategic planning is going to be critical,” he says. Our affordable lawyers are available during COVID-19 to file documents and work on your legal needs. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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