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Solo to Small: How to Grow Your Independent Law Practice

by Alexa Drago on April 6, 2020

By Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik

 

 

As a successful solo law practice owner, you have already achieved many major accomplishments and made a name for yourself in your area of practice. By taking your firm to the next level and evolving into a small law practice, you can take on more clients, have a greater impact on the community you serve, and expand your earning potential. Here are some tips you can follow this year to grow your independent law practice.

 

Devote Time to Setting Specific Goals

 

Before you begin the actionable work of expanding your law firm, it is crucial to know exactly what you hope to achieve and how you plan on getting there. Setting one-year, five-year, and ten-year goals gives you a foundation on which to build the rest of your plans. This may well be the most time-consuming step in expanding, but time spent planning now can prevent growing pains and other issues later on down the road.

 

Analyze Your Numbers and Use Them to Set Realistic Targets

 

In anticipation of expanding your practice, you have hopefully maintained accurate records for at least the year prior to expansion. Do an audit of the hours you spend working on administrative tasks, billable hours, and business management activities so you have a benchmark for the workload that you will be asking additional attorneys to complete. This may also help you decide which tasks to automate or outsource.

 

With this information, set practical targets for the attorneys joining your firm. Realistic targets help you more accurately predict income and expenses. With many large law firms requiring 80 hours per week or more of its attorneys, offering more reasonable standards may help you attract new talent.

 

Develop Scalable Processes

 

It is common for solo attorneys to take on all the work themselves and put in far more hours than is realistically sustainable. This is impractical for a small firm as decreased productivity costs small law firms money that is difficult to recoup. Figure out which tasks and processes can be executed by administrative staff and other professionals within the firm, such as paralegals, receptionists, and assistants. By writing down concrete step-by-step processes, you can reduce the amount of time your attorneys spend on routine work.

 

Keep the Client Experience Consistent

 

The transition period is crucial to the future success of your small firm. If clients’ needs fall by the wayside during this period, you risk stunting future growth. Maintain the standards you have set regarding response times to client inquiries. You also need to make it easy for clients to find your new office if your expansion means moving locations. Finally, set up smooth transitions to client-facing protocols, software, and processes that may be new to both clients and attorneys.

 

Invest in Technology That Streamlines Processes

 

Repetitive tasks can often be automated with technology. Explore software that sets up meetings, keeps track of deadlines, organizes documents, and other time-consuming jobs. This may be a sizable investment for a small office, but many software solutions have free trials, giving you time to find one that has the features you need. Among small law firm attorneys who recognize the need for greater technological assistance, 36% report that a lack of technological understanding is the primary factor holding them back. Accepting and implementing new technology can set you ahead of your peers.

 

Find the Right Space

 

What you need from your office space is likely to evolve as you grow and bring on more team members. Explore different solutions, including co-working spaces. As your firm grows, your overhead will too. A traditional office environment puts the weight of maintaining copy machines, phone lines, and reception staff on you. A shared environment, such as a co-working space, can provide relief from these tasks allowing you to focus on your growth.

 

It’s Time to Grow

 

A logical financial progression for your law firm is to grow from solo to small. With the resources available, there is no time like the present to start making moves that will form a solid base for your small law firm. Once your decision is made and your plan for expansion is in place, there are many resources, including the few referenced in this article, to help you succeed.

 

 

About LawBank

Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik are the owners of LawBank, Colorado’s oldest and largest lawyer-only co-working space. With several locations throughout the Denver Metro area, LawBank offices create the ideal space for a small law firm to grow. The unique environment provides for co-counsel opportunities, client referrals, and collaboration, giving members the resources they need to reach or exceed their goals for their law firm.

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