While you CAN run your estate planning law practice (and many other types of law firms) as a true solo practice — and many lawyers begin that way — you will not be able to recognize the true freedom of being a business owner until you bring on team to support you.
The first hire you will likely want to make is a Client Services Director (CSD), even if just on a part time basis. When your CSD first comes on board, he or she will be your everything person unless you already have a full client load.
If you do not already have a full client load, then your CSD will be doing outreach to get speaking engagements booked, lead follow up and intake from marketing efforts, and shepherding your clients through your client engagement and service process.
If you do already have a full client load or once your client load gets full (more than 5 new client engagements for estate planning services per month), you will want to hire another team member so your CSD can remain focused on taking care of your clients and turning them into raving fans. You then hire someone else to handle outreach and intake. We call this person your Outreach/Intake Coordinator (OIC).
The OIC is tasked with getting your message out into the community by booking you speaking engagements, running your ads, locating expos for you to attend, exhibit at and speak at, managing direct mail, finding auctions you can contribute to and otherwise getting you seen and heard in the community.
The OIC will also ensure all events are well attended and you have everything you need to make the most of the event, will follow up with all leads from the event, and ideally book appointments for new prospects to meet with you for their initial consultation (which, remember, should never be a free initial consultation — our members call their initial consultation a Family Wealth Planning Session, and it’s $750, though there are plenty ways to get it for free, as part of your marketing strategy.)
Then, either the OIC or the CSD could send out pre-meeting packages and do the pre-appointment follow up to prepare your prospects before the Planning Session. Who is responsible for this will be dependent on whether your OIC is an in-office role or not. Ideally, your CSD will be in-office at least 3 days/week. That’s going to ensure you are able to stay out of the office as much as possible.
You might find this counter-intuitive, but it’s truth — the more you are out of the office, the better. We find that our lawyers often experience the most growth and success right before a big event that would have them out of the office for some time, like a new baby or an ill parent.
When you have the right support in the office, you are actually doing your team a favor by being their less and having the systems in place to support them and you to do that. This is the New Law Business Model way.
After hiring a CSD and an OIC, you may decide to hire a file clerk to support them both, and you will likely want to be outsourcing your plan drafting and your funding preparation. While your CSD COULD start off drafting and funding plans, it’s really not a skill set match.
Your CSD should be personable, warm, relational and want to be out front working with the clients. Typically someone who is the best at drafting documents and funding plans is more of a behind the scenes person with a more reserved personality and a high attention to detail. It’s fairly rare to find this combination in one person.
Outsourcing is great because you only pay for what you use, have no costs of overhead and typically get great service because you are hiring a business owner who is an expert and highly self-managed and accountable versus someone you have to train who may have an employee mindset and potentially be less reliable.
Even if outsourcing seems more expensive, until you are doing close to 20 plans a month in your office, it’s still more cost efficient in balance to outsource the drafting and funding.
Finally, when your practice is “full” and you’ve begun to be called in for post-death work that comes along with estate planning and is highly lucrative when handled well, you will likely want to hire a Client Services Coordinator who will handle business clients and post-death administration of plans and probates.
Once you have an Outreach/Intake Coordinator, a Client Services Director, a File Clerk, and a Client Services Coordinator and you are outsourcing plan Drafting and plan Funding, you’ve got a fully stocked office.
At that point, you may want to consider an Office Manager and you should definitely have already outsourced your financial management to a great bookkeeping team that has specific expertise working with law practices, like yours.
That’s the template of a million dollar law business.
If you prefer to stay in the $250k-500k range, you would have a full house with an Outreach/Intake Coordinator and a Client Services Director, and outsource Drafting and Funding.
And, if you are happy at less than $250,000, you can likely manage it all yourself with one other person you call Client Services Director.
[As a side-note, when you become a Personal Family Lawyer®, Family Business Lawyer™ or Creative Business Lawyer® member, you have immediate access to our hiring resources for each of these roles, including advertisements that are proven to call in the ideal people for you, job descriptions and specifics on how to train and manage these team members as they grow with your business, and support you to create a business you love, that gives you the freedom to have a life you love, as well.
What are you waiting for? Get hiring!
Learn more about the jumpstart program that is the foundation of Alexis creating her million-dollar-plus/year revenue generating law practice.