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How to Increase Your Solo Practice or Small Law Firm’s Productivity and Lower Overhead

by Alexa Drago on June 16, 2021

Running a solo practitioner’s office or small law firm comes with plenty of distinct advantages: You set the firm’s direction, caseload, and work hours.

There is a downside, however. You may not have the same resources as a more prominent firm, such as associate attorneys, support staff, and office equipment. If you have these things, then you are probably paying an enormous amount of money.

Below, we take an in-depth look at some strategies that you can use to increase your solo or small law firm’s productivity and lower overhead costs:

Invest in Automation Tools

Manual data processing for small law firms should be a thing of the past. When you have an automated case management system, the application handles numerous tasks for you while mitigating the chance of duplication. According to a McKinsey report from 2015, 45% of paid activities can be automated by technology (Source).  For small law firms, this is directly tied to their productivity and bottom-line as automation can offset the more expensive costs associated with employees and wages.

There is a reason why case management tools are wildly popular with solo and small law firms. While there are some elements that you cannot pass off to software, automation tools will mitigate some processes for you, such as invoicing, client communications, and case management. The more you automate your legal services, the fewer billable hours you will lose.

Plus, automation helps reduce the amount of data errors. Instead of using your time to move information from one application or platform to another, you can use automation to your advantage.

Maximize Support Staff Efficiencies

It is nice to have dedicated staff members fill specific roles within your firm. However, employee costs are likely the most significant expense for any law firm. For example, a full-time receptionist would be nice, but do you really need one?

Perhaps you could hire a full-time receptionist, but you could also have your employee handle legal assistance or paralegal work in between answering phones. Generally, this solution works well for solo and small law firms.

Keep in mind that there will be tradeoffs for doing so, especially when more formalized proceedings are happening in the office. Your receptionist will need to be excellent at managing both the phones and, say, a deposition in progress. Some small law firms circumnavigate staffing inefficiencies by training people on various jobs (i.e., a legal assistant that also answers the phones) or using outsourced companies to answer their phone lines.

Outsource Tasks When It Makes Sense

There are just some tasks that solo and small firms do not need to handle in-house. This concept is particularly true in the areas of technology, marketing, and accounting. These are elements that take away your focus on the practice of law and drain your law firm’s productivity.

Here are some tips to make them more efficient:

  • Technology: Contract with an IT management company or rent from an office that includes it as part of your rental agreement.
  • Marketing: Attorneys do not have enough time in the day or week to effectively run a digital marketing program. Hire a freelance consultant or legal marketing agency for assistance.
  • Accounting: Your accountant can handle financial management for you while providing a unique insight into your firm’s performance.

Even worse, mistakes in these areas can result in increased overhead as well. Hire an outside company to handle these aspects for you. While some of these tasks need your attention, outsourcing them or renting in spaces that provide them can significantly reduce the amount of money you are spending.

Office Share When You Can

Imagine an opportunity to cut your rental costs in half. There is a simple solution: get an office-share space that caters exclusively to lawyers. It is a win-win solution since you can maintain a separate office for your law firm, but you also get to connect with other legal professionals regularly. When considering an office-sharing space, review all policies applicable to ethics rules and opinions.

Solo practitioners and small law firm communities are starting to become a popular way to address the overhead costs of running a brick-and-mortar business. Attorney coworking spaces allow you to rent your own office while creating an unmatched synergy and environment. It also provides a solution to hiring a full-time receptionist since shared office communities offer them as part of their service.

Not only are you going to save money, but you also get to work in an environment and with a community that is conducive to legal practice. Shared office spaces can lead to additional opportunities for referrals without making any commitments to another law firm. There are several other benefits gleaned when offsetting your overhead costs with coworking space.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

You can employ several strategies to increase your solo practice or small law firm’s productivity and lower overhead. The ultimate goal is to achieve a synergy that feels right for you and enhances your practice.

Knowledge, overhead costs, and project management are essential to practical business management. Ensure that you consider every opportunity available to maximize revenues and mitigate expenses.

About LawBank

Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik are the owners of LawBank, Colorado’s oldest and largest lawyer-only coworking 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 co-counsel opportunities, client referrals, and collaboration, giving members the resources they need to reach or exceed their law firm’s goals.

 

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