In 30 years of practicing law, I’ve worked with dozens of talented attorneys and paralegal professionals. Most importantly, our legal team has helped thousands of deserving clients. Building a successful law firm is not easy. It takes diligence and deliberate action. Here are 12 things I’ve learned about building a successful law firm for 30 years:
1. Focus on an Area of Passion
Every lawyer specializes in some capacity. Even lawyers who claim to be general practice still exclude many areas of law. To build a successful law firm, choose an area or areas of practice for which you have a passion. Enjoying your work gives you a mission and the drive to help your clients. Evaluate the practice areas that you would like to focus on to ensure that your plan is sustainable for the size of the legal market and make sure you can capably handle those areas of practice.
2. Location Matters
The right location can make a big difference when it comes to bringing traffic in the door. If you’re located in a small town, don’t expect to pull clients from a city that’s an hour away. Wherever you set up shop, having a prominent brick and mortar location can mean thousands of potential customers traveling past your offices every day.
Be sure that you choose the best location for your law firm. It should be easy for new clients to find, and directions to the office should be straight forward. Visibility goes a long way, too, so be sure that you have a sign out front that makes your law firm easy to identify.
3. Reinvent Yourself
Think about elite athletes – they’re constantly trying to tweak and improve their game. As a law firm, you should be no different. Your law firm is going to go through many changes in 30 years. Be ready and willing to adapt to these changes. In fact, being the first to adapt to changing management practices can give you a competitive advantage.
4. Adapt to Changing Technology
Speaking of changes, technology evolves rapidly. Lawyers used to create legal documents using typewriters and white-out ink. We submitted legal documents in person or by mailing them to the courthouse. Today, we use computers and digital technology to do these things. We even file legal documents electronically. Clients used to wait for telephone calls. Now, we might send an email or even a text. Be the first to adapt to changing technology. Not only does keeping up on technology help you do business effectively, but it can show your clients that you’re cutting edge.
5. Personalize Services for Each Client
Always remember to take your client’s preferences into account when you’re communicating with them. Some clients prefer to text. Others don’t know how to send a text. Personalizing client preferences isn’t just related to technology, either. How you approach the case and work with the client should depend on their needs and preferences.
6. Diversity Matters
The team that you choose to work with is vital. Having an intentionally diverse group gives your clients varied points of view. Often, these different perspectives spark creative ideas that can make a difference in your cases. Seek diversity of all kinds when you build your legal team.
7. Invest in Your Team
It takes a long time to fully onboard a new team member. Attorneys and other staff members need time to learn the law firm’s nuances and the local legal scene. This can take months, even for an experienced practitioner.
Being diligent and intentional about the team members you choose can reduce turnover, save time and help you work more efficiently. Then, invest in your team by providing them with the resources that they need. In addition, invest in continuing education so that they can keep on growing their legal skills.
8. Build a Referral Network
Get involved in the legal community in your area. Go to bar association meetups and socials. The legal community can serve you in multiple ways. First, they can be a referral network. If an attorney doesn’t practice your area of law, they might refer cases to you. Second, attorneys can also serve as a resource when you encounter unfamiliar legal issues.
9. A Law Firm Is a Business
Your law firm is a business just like any other business. You need accounting, marketing, a website, human resources, technology, office supplies and even office cleaning services. It’s critical to register your business as required by state law and file periodic paperwork if needed. Be aware of the many aspects of running a business, and have a plan for success.
10. Have a Plan for Collections
Collections is a part of most law firms in some capacity. It may not be your first choice of activities, but it’s necessary. Be aware of the collections laws and procedures in your area. Make a comprehensive fee plan that begins with well-written retainer agreements and also addresses the collections process.
11. Remember, Good Things Take Time
Building a successful law firm takes time. Continue to hone your legal skills and your practice management. Look for signs of growth, and celebrate your progress. You may not find immediate success in the first few years of practice. However, use your drive and passion to keep going, and you may find that your perseverance pays off in the end.
12. Take Time for Personal Care
As you grow your law firm, help your team members with things like work-life balance and stress management. Ultimately, investing in yourself and your team can help you build a successful law firm.
Attorney Adam S. Kutner has spent more than 29 years fighting for fair compensation for victims of personal injury. With more than 40,000 settlement cases behind him, Mr. Kutner knows his way around the court system. As a former insurance defense attorney he knows how to get clients the maximum settlement promptly and trouble-free. Adam S. Kutner, Injury Attorneys has also been recognized by the Las Vegas Review-Journal to be Las Vegas’ Best Accident Lawyer of 2020.