3 Common Challenges For Solo And Small Firm Lawyers (And How To Overcome Them)
Law school did a great job teaching you substantive law, but one thing it probably didn’t prepare you for was the challenges of running a small business.
Everyday when we talk to our customers, we hear about the common problems solo and small firm lawyers are up against, such as how to: provide better client services, manage (and grow) your practices, and get paid on time.
The good news is that the right technology can help you tackle these issues. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at three different law firms that use technology to overcome these common solo and small firm challenges.
Challenge: Providing Better Client Services
In the days of online reviews and digital “reputation management,” it’s more important than ever to provide great client service. Getting clients (and keeping them happy) requires a different approach than it did ten, or even just five years ago. Today, you have to set your firm apart from other firms in your area by providing impressive client service – that way current clients are more likely to hire you again and refer your firm to other potential clients in the future.
For attorney David Crandall and his firm Legacy Planning Advocates, estate planning isn’t just about documents and signatures – it’s about the peace of mind and comfort he’s able to give his clients. That focus on providing better client service is what drove him to start using practice management software over two years ago. Since turning to technology, Crandall’s “client-oriented” approach of running his business has paid off:
“Tasks like sharing documents with clients get done faster. When I use the Client Portal, my clients will say that they’ve never seen anything like it before,” Crandall says. “In any other law firm they’ve worked with, there’s no online collaboration, so they recognize that MyCase is something unique. It promotes me as someone who is technology-forward, who adopts technology to use for my clients’ benefit.”
Providing tools and resources for your clients to stay up-to-date on their cases is just one way to provide better services at your firm. A secure Client Portal also makes it easy for you to avoid using unsecure email, updates clients with real-time notifications, and helps increase your efficiency so you can bill more hours.
Challenge: Managing (and Growing) a Small Business
Bob Leonard Jr. isn’t just a family law attorney practicing in Fort Worth, Texas – he’s one of the most recognized family law attorneys in the entire state.
Leonard has been named a Top Attorney in Fort Worth Texas Magazine every year since 2003 and is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a claim that fewer than 1% of Texas lawyers can make.
He found early success working as a solo but knew that in order grow, his method of managing his law firm had to evolve. Paper notes, time slips, and spreadsheets just weren’t going to cut it anymore. He knew he needed legal practice management software that could help him stay on top his growing practice. As the firm got bigger, he realized a cloud-based option might be the only solution that could increase his efficiency enough to allow him to take on more cases and clients.
“We wanted to go into the cloud,” said Leonard, noting that the group promotes its tech-friendly practice as a selling point. “These days people want to do everything online. Firms that don’t acknowledge that end up closing their doors. Offering the newest technology shows people we stay contemporary with the times.”
“It simply would not be possible for us to manage all of our cases without the ability to communicate with clients, and share documents and calendars through the secure Client Portal,” says Leonard when describing the firm’s move into the cloud.
Challenge: Collecting Payments for Your Services
Aaren Jackson, Founder of the Lane Law Firm, a dedicated family law attorney, faces one of the most common challenges for solo and small firm lawyers: getting paid.
“Because I handle family law matters, I’m intimately familiar with a lot of my client’s finances. I usually know how much money they have – and how much money they don’t have,” Lane explains. “It would be very hard for me to call them and say ‘you’ve got this outstanding bill due,’ when I know that they’re struggling financially. I don’t like asking them to take the time to come into the office to pay, put a check in the mail, or to bring me cash.”
In order to simplify the process, avoid those awkward interactions, and ultimately collect on more unpaid invoices, Lane embraced the technology of online payments — and it’s paying off.
“I’m collecting a higher percentage of my receivables through online payments, so I’ve made it our policy that new clients who retain us are required to pay online. When the client sees it as just another bill, they’re more likely to pay it. And with payment reminders, you can tell them they have an overdue bill in a hands-off way. I never feel like I’m breathing down their throat. It’s been really helpful.”
Now Lane Law Firm P.C., based in Arlington, Virginia, has 100% of clients paying online. Not only is this driving more revenue for the firm, but Lane saves 20 hours each week with a streamlined billing process that’s more convenient for the firm and its clients.