Spicing Up Your Solo Practice

by Alexa Drago on November 30, 2020

By Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik

Running your own law firm is hard enough work, but with the recent shift in just about everything, you might be wondering how to take your solo practice to the next level. Whether you’re looking to boost your online presence or tidy up the administrative side of things, we have a few tips for you to keep your law practice humming, and both you and your clients happy.

Contracting Attorneys from Different Sub-Practice Areas

If you’re struggling to get your name out there as a solo practitioner, you may want to consider bringing in solo practitioners from other sub-practice areas. Not only will you be able to network with other attorneys, but you can expand your own solo practice’s practice areas through cross-selling or upselling, which could translate to more work, and therefore, more business.

There are a few ways to accomplish this. One of the best, tried-and-true methods is  attending networking events where you can meet a slew of attorneys from myriad sub-practice areas. Of course, the more esteemed an attorney is, the more likely they’ll only want to work with attorneys of the same caliber. This is why it’s crucial to make doing good work and building a sterling professional reputation for yourself your number one priority as a business owner and operator.

Another solid route is to ask for referrals from your already-established professional connections. You’re likely to get a good recommendation from a lawyer you respect and trust, so it never hurts to ask.

If you’re still coming up short after trying these out, then sign up with a legal staffing agency or reach out to small law firm networks like LawBank or the Solo Small Firm Practice Section  of the CBA that can put you in contact with solo practitioners from different sub-practice areas.

Choose Your Team Wisely

So you’ve gone to the networking events, have asked around for attorney referrals, and even put your feelers out there with a legal staffing agency. Fortunately, you’ve found a number of reputable, competent solo practitioners who are eager to work with you. Now what?

For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that to maintain your solo practice’s good reputation, you’ll have to be choosy about the attorneys with whom you work.  Their work and conduct will demonstrate to others how you like to run your business and reflect your personal values and practice’s mission.

Take a minute to do an online search of your new team. Websites like the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, Martindale-Hubbell, and Avvo are a great resource for reading up on attorney backgrounds and testimonials about their services.

Bill with Your Clients in Mind

One of the worst things you can do for your client relationships and your law practice itself is to “pad” your hours or bill more time than you actually worked. Unfortunately, this practice is not terribly uncommon, yet deeply ironic in a profession where justice and fairness are of primary concern.

However, any good entrepreneur knows that strong, transparent client relationships are the lifeblood of every successful and long-lasting business. What’s more, padding your hours isn’t always done out of malice–sometimes, attorneys simply miscalculate or have forgotten how many hours they’ve worked.

But no matter the intentions behind these discrepancies in billing, communication is the key to helping  both you and your client decide what is fair for your services. This benefits the client in the sense that they’ll know exactly how much they’ll need to pay and you know how much you will earn and when.

Use Technology to Strengthen Client Relationships

We’re living in a world that’s still navigating a pandemic, which means we’re learning how to work with new technology as we go. Naturally, these new technological innovations extend to the legal profession, where Zoom court hearings and social distancing protocols keep attorneys and clients from meeting face-to-face to discuss their cases.

Any small law firm that wants to survive in this new era must find novel, remote ways to provide improved and efficient service. The best way to accomplish this is to find new ways to express a personal touch through a screen. Whether it’s by checking in on your most important clients with personalized emails, offering free legal advice to clients for any coronavirus-related issues, or simply reassuring your clients over a video call, there are plenty of ways to maintain and foster these relationships in a time of increased, but necessary, isolation.

On a final note, it is smart to keep in mind that contract attorneys and referral relationships are subject to various ethics rules, so be sure to review the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct and relevant ethics opinions as you consider expanding your practice areas (a good place to start is by reading “Ethical Considerations When Using Freelance Legal Services” by Sarah Coleman (47 Colo. Law. 36 (June 2018)).  Also, be sure to check with your malpractice insurance carrier to see how contract attorneys are addressed under your policy.

It might seem like the odds are stacked against you as a small law firm owner living and operating during a global pandemic. However, you should rest easy knowing there are few great ways to both boost client retention and spruce up your own solo practice, whether it’s by broadening your business’ practice areas, crafting a strong team of attorneys, or keeping up with clients to remind them that they’re still on your radar. Whatever route you decide to go, we’re willing to bet that your solo practice will only benefit from it.

About LawBank

LawBank is Colorado’s premier community for independent law firms. With multiple locations around the Denver Metro area and a new location in Las Vegas, Nevada, LawBank offices are strategically placed around city centers and court systems for the convenience of solo practice and small law firm lawyers.  Members enjoy flexible membership terms, great amenities such as monthly CLE programming, and even discounts off of law firm service providers. Learn more at www.Law-Bank.com

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