You’ve done it – you finally opened your own law firm. However, now you’re knee deep into it you are wondering, “is this is it”? The monthly overhead, silent phones, empty calendar. Is this what “lawyering” is supposed to be like? Fortunately, the answer is no. I was there not even 3 years ago. I finally decided that I needed to make some changes and get out of the “is this it” place I had found myself in. After implementing those changes, I drastically increased my bottom line and they allowed me to start loving my law practice. So what are the changes that I made that shifted my entire career?
1. I stopped answering my phones. At first, I hired an answering service. Then I hired a receptionist. Then I hired a paralegal who can answer many of my client’s questions. These angels kept me focused on my work and away from telemarketers and people looking for free legal advice on the phone. This allowed me to be more productive and ensured that I could deliver on all of my promises to my clients, which in turn made them happier and more likely to refer their friends and family members to me.
2. I stopped offering free consultations. Now don’t worry, I still do a free consultations for select clients, but no one is offered a “free consultation”. My time is worth money (as is yours) and I’m not going to offer it to anyone who walks in off the street. My staff has the ability to waive the consultation fee if they feel that it is appropriate, but they know that they’re going to have to stand by that decision if it is a waste of my time. When people know that our consultations are valuable, they start to understand that everything we do has value.
3. I hired a marketing director. I knew that I needed to start marketing my practice. The problem was that I was just busy enough that I didn’t feel like I could dedicate the time needed to really grow the law firm. I decided that if I wasn’t going to make the time to do things like set lunches, managing my social media accounts, setting speaking engagements, or writing newsletters, I had to hire someone that would. The first two months were tight, but after that, my director’s efforts began paying very big dividends.
4. I spent money I didn’t have. This scares people – and it should. It’s scary putting money into your practice when you don’t have a guarantee of high returns. However, there’s an old adage “you have to spend money to make money” that I’ve found to be true in my professional career. Now, I should stop and clarify that I’m not just spending money indiscriminately. I only took calculated risks after researching the opportunities available. If you want to grow your practice, you need to spend money – whether it’s taking referral sources out to eat, paying for google adwords, or advertising in traditional media. Come up with a vision for your practice and start spending money on marketing efforts that will help you achieve that vision.
Once you really sit down and begin looking at your daily activities, I am sure you too will see a number of places where there are opportunities to increase your revenue. Take the time to seek those out, I promise you won’t regret it and wonderful changes in your law practice will result from it.