Running a small or solo practice is no easy task. Whether you are truly solo, or have a few underlings, or a couple other attorneys, on your team, most small law shops have to deal with the same basic challenges.
According to a recent survey and info-graphic published by Thomson Reuters (FindLaw.com’s parent company- thanks mom and dad!), over 80 percent of small firms reported not only an increase in price competition, but also an increase in competition from non-traditional legal services providers.
Below are the four of the top challenges that solos and small firms face. As you can see, the times may be changing, but the same issues seem to be persistent.
1. Getting Clients
A lawyer without clients may still be a lawyer, but they won’t make a sound if they fall in the forest. With the way new tech has allowed people from all walks of life to connect, small firms can easily be drowned out with all the noise. While 78 percent of responding firms noted that getting new clients was a challenge, less than half are taking any action to address the problem.
If your firm is struggling to attract clients, actually doing something will actually set you apart from your peers.
2. Burning Money
One of the most common problems at small firms is overspending. Small firm life is one of feast and famine. There are times when there’ll be more than enough money, but those are likely to be out-numbered by times of famine. Overspending during the feast time could spell disaster during a famine; after all, your money will be as green in one week as it will be in 100 weeks. So, always feast moderately.
3. Collecting Fees
It’s no surprise that small firms still struggle with collecting fees from clients. In fact, more than half of all survey respondents indicated having a “big problem collecting bills.” If client billing problems are consistent, you may want to look for patterns or signs to avoid with new clients. However, trouble with getting clients to pay their bill is not unique to the legal industry, and has been a headache for business owners since the very first business ever started. How you handle it may set you apart though.
4. Using the Right Tech
Wasting time on administrative tasks can cost an attorney significant sums of time and money. Using the right technology, and getting the right tech for your staff to use, can save significant amounts of money in the long run. However, what’s right for another firm, might not be right for your firm, so choose carefully and don’t be afraid to try out cutting edge tech, or to abandon new practices that aren’t working.
Additionally, spending the time on updating critical systems, like calendaring, practice management software, and workflow policies, can not only help prevent malpractice, but can save thousands of dollars worth of time and trouble.