across the world
Roundup : Top Law Firm Challenges with Possible Solutions!
Law firms have a plethora of tasks to handle, and this makes their work really challenging. Depending on the size and business model, the intensity and number of challenges may differ. So, let’s get started and hear from the top legal industry experts about the law firm challenges they face and possible solutions.
What are the biggest law firm challenges today?
1. Inefficient Time Management
Freddy Davoodian, Co-Founder of JurisCase
One of the most common law firm challenges is time management. A law firm’s most precious asset is time. Law firms should learn to manage their time better. By doing so, they’ll be able to serve their clients better and have a better work-life balance.
Introduce these four tips to improve your time management and experience an increase in your productivity.
1. Plan out your day in advance. To reach maximum productivity, you have to know what needs to get done before you even attempt. Develop a strategy of how you’re going to tackle each task on your agenda and stick to it. Your strategy could simply be to do the easiest tasks first and the more difficult ones later, or vice versa. Or perhaps you can group similar tasks together and get them done simultaneously.
2. Use practice management software to keep track of your documents and schedule. If you don’t use law practice management software, the chances are that you’re dealing with papers. Once you get your documents and schedule, you will be less stressed out. However, your clients will appreciate the fact that you’re on top of things.
3. Stop wasting time using outdated legal research methods. Technology is constantly advancing in the legal field. When it comes to legal research, it makes no sense to use proper legal research tools. Because the alternative options will most definitely waste your precious time. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you spend excessive money just to have access to a legal research database. You should weigh your options and use the legal research database to save time and money!
4. Last but not least, avoid distractions! Distractions can easily sneak up on you and drain your time and energy. So, set certain limits on when to check your phone, check social media, chitchat with friends or coworkers, and etcetera.
2. Less Online Presence
David Reischer, Esq., Attorney & CEO of LegalAdvice
Solo lawyers and law firms of all sizes must have an online presence on the Internet. To demonstrate that they are subject matter authority to generate new customer leads.
A lawyer or law firm that has a strong online presence will generate new clients. This will help them to communicate with their audience. Blogging on a particular topic is an excellent way to demonstrate expertise in a legal area. It allows for great opportunities for career development and networking. Many lawyers blog for client development or because they are passionate about a specific area. The more authoritative a lawyer can write a law topic, the higher the probability of online lead generation success.
3. To Attract Quality Clients
Anthony Castelli, Owner of Law Office of Anthony D. Castelli
The biggest challenge in running a law firm is getting quality clients in your practice area. You could be the greatest lawyer in the world, but without clients, you will go nowhere.”Strategic use of the Internet can level the playing field for startup attorney law firms and ongoing law firms.
The centerpiece of an internet presence is a great website. A great website lets your target audience evaluate you based on reviews, case results, videos, and articles that educate the public.”Then, the website must be optimized to get on page one of Google. If you are not on page one, you have little likelihood of being found. Thus, you also need to hire a great webmaster to optimize your site so that it stays on page one for the core areas of your law practice.”
4. Poor Marketing Strategy
Russell, Owner of Law Office of Russell D. Knight
The number one law firm challenge is marketing. Lawyers are marketing averse. However, the average lawyer seems to believe potential clients are combing through a stack of public resumes.
Mostly, people hire lawyers because they are having an emergency and ask for a recommendation. The recommender usually just refers to the law consumer to the last attorney they talked to.
Failing a recommendation, the law consumer just calls whoever is at the top of a Google search. While this seems frustrating, it’s actually a huge opportunity. To get clients, you simply have to be the last attorney people have talked to or have a high-ranking website.
The key to both networking and a high-ranking website is specialization.
I talk with everyone remotely associated with my niche of the law. I’m a family law attorney, so this means family therapists. I take a family therapist to lunch every working day of every month. That’s 20 people who have me at the top of their minds while they’re talking to dozens of people contemplating divorce every week.
My website talks extensively about my law practice’s focus. So, again, as a divorce lawyer, I have dozens of articles about divorce and how it works in my particular state and city. It took about a year, but now I’m consistently on the front page of numerous Google searches related to divorce and my city.
5. Poor Management Skills
Shira Kalfa, Founder & Partner of Kalfa Law
It is difficult to narrow my answer down to just one or two challenges, as there are many. When running a law firm, you act as both a lawyer and a business owner. In addition to having general managerial duties consistent with running any kind of business, such as hiring, staff management, billing, finances, payroll, and marketing, you are also the lead partner to the lawyers in the firm.
So, all the ends must be addressed with respect to their work as well as guidance to the law, file management, and client management. In addition, typically, the partner has their own clients to tend to and prepare work for. Juggling these demands can become impossible at times.
One recent solution I have begun to implement is to compartmentalize my time as a manager as distinct from my time as a lawyer. Each week, I must carve out time (by placing it in my calendar and refusing all other bookings in relation to client matters) to address the business side of the firm.
On a weekly basis, I have instituted partner meetings, lawyer meetings, and staff reviews. Every Monday morning, I am handed a weekly time entry report of billable time from both lawyers and staff. At the same time, all firm members are sent their own time reports to review their own accountability. This allows me to review the previous week’s billable time, which is, in essence, a revenue report.
On a weekly basis, I meet with our other lawyers to review their billable hours and client files. Also, on a weekly basis, I will meet with staff to discuss their time and obtain their feedback. Instituting this oversight allows me to act more in the capacity of a manager and less in the capacity of merely another lawyer in this firm. At the end of the day, billable time forms our revenue source, and so this should be the primary focus of any firm.
I have also begun to institute weekly and monthly directors’/shareholders’ meetings. In these meetings, we discuss strategy, growth and processes, and procedures so that our vision for growth continues to be met. Here, we also discuss new strategies we can implement moving forward to decrease the pressure on managing partners, such as the delegation of tasks to associates or other staff that need not remain within the purview of that lawyer as the firm continues to grow.
Prior to carving out this time, managerial duties would fall to the wayside in favor of client responsibilities and work product. Certainly, client work is a priority, as that is the nature of our business. However, focusing only on client matters at the expense of business matters has the propensity to impact the growth of the firm negatively.
Juggling these responsibilities has proven to be challenging; however, my best advice is to separate my time as a lawyer and business owner, addressing each responsibility individually and contemporaneously, and both are crucial to the success of the firm.
6. Minimum Client Satisfaction
Darryl Smith, Partner of Smith & Eulo Law Firm
One of the biggest challenges faced by lawyers who own their law firms is keeping clients happy. A law firm can only be successful if it maintains a steady stream of clients, and clients are only going to hire a law firm that provides quality customer service, great communication, and successful results.
Law firm owners must make sure that every member of their team, from the partners to the support staff, puts 110% effort into making sure every client receives a great customer service experience and excellent legal representation on their cases. There are certain requirements that law firm owners must put in place to meet this goal.
First, owners must create high customer service expectations for all employees by asking all lawyers and staff to treat every client with utmost courtesy and respect (even when clients may be angry or disrespectful). Additionally, law firm owners must hire highly qualified lawyers and paralegals who are capable of aggressively, efficiently, and effectively handling each client’s case to get the best possible resolution and ensure a high rate of client satisfaction.
7. Less Business Growth and Inefficient Case Management
Steven Dorfman, The Perecman Firm
Some of the top challenges law firms face are growth and business development, case management, personnel management, and customer service and outreach.
Growth and Business Development: In terms of growth and business development, a double standard is often imposed on owners of law firms. Many members of the profession often refuse to admit it, but law firms are businesses that face the same financial pressures as all other businesses do. Regardless of the nobility of our profession, at the end of the day, we need to generate enough income to satisfy rent, payroll, insurance, and all other operating costs.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, there will be enough resources left over so that the owners can plan for the future, invest in the business’ growth, and then, ultimately, take something to support themselves. That said, the primary concern of any business, including law firms, is to maintain an ever-increasing stream of clients and revenue in order to meet our operating costs and liabilities.
The Perecman Firm P.L.L.C. has benefited from having a forward-thinking principal, David H. Perecman, who has been willing to invest in business development and marketing. Although it can be nerve-wracking to invest in the future of your business, it’s necessary for its future growth and long-term sustainability. Our firm has been blessed with talent, both in-house and outsourced, in our business development department.
Case Management: It can be challenging for firms to manage their growing caseload, especially in instances when you onboard many new clients at once and maintain the same level of commitment and service. Regardless of how many cases the firm is handling, its primary concern MUST be the quality of its work. Over the decades, our law firm has transitioned from a single practitioner to a small to mid-sized boutique law firm of 11 attorneys specializing in the representation of accident victims.
What has always remained consistent during that time is the ownership’s commitment to excellence. In the beginning, when there was only one employee, direct oversight was simple. However, as we’ve grown in size, we’ve found that the management of the firm’s work (representation of our clients) was best done by formalizing our management structure and supervision. The growth of the firm has required us to retain a managing attorney.
We also have formalized our case management by acquiring state-of-the-art case management software, significantly increasing the number of support staff and paralegals working in our office, and conducting regular meetings for our calendar appearances, trials, and case discussions. Although there’s no singularly correct way to do things, the methods that we’ve adopted appear to work for us.
Personnel Management: As the number of a firm’s clients increases, so will its personnel needs. For our firm, growing from one to two employees to nearly 40 has presented significant challenges. We have addressed those concerns by hiring office management and human resource staff members.
We outsource payroll, tax accounting, and benefits management services, but our personnel are kept happy and efficient through our human resources department and staff members who effectively communicate the firm’s mission and objectives in a sensitive and thoughtful manner.
Customer Outreach: With a growing client base, it’s important that a law firm strives to maintain consistent, clear communication with its clients on their pending legal matters. As our firm has grown, we’ve implemented new methods and technology to ensure our clients are kept regularly informed.
With the use of our case management system, our management team is able to confirm and follow the frequency with which we speak with our clients. We also have personnel that are specifically charged with client outreach. Our firm’s founder, Mr. Perecman, values the trust and confidence placed upon us by our clients, and consequently, he’s invested in making sure that clients are kept informed and satisfied.
8. Difficulty in Finding and Hiring a Quality Team
Andrew Taylor, director of Net Lawman
Finding and hiring quality team members, retaining them, and being able to make plans for these employees as part of our business team for the long term is one of the biggest challenges we face. Employees make the business a success, and that is why it is extremely important to have the right ones around you, the best you can find. Employee retention refers to the ability of an organization to attract, recognize, and retain employees who contribute actively to the achievement of the organizational purpose and vision.
The goal is to reduce costs caused by unwanted employee departures and increase productivity. An organizational culture that takes into account the needs of its employees and cares about their experience in the organization makes a strong foundation for long-term employee engagement and retention. At the same time, the organizational capacity to attract new talented employees increases.
The key is to learn to deal with different personalities, understand what drives each individual team member, and adjust their management. Diversity brings many challenges in ensuring a good organizational climate for businesses, but at the same time, a lack of diversity (especially in leadership positions) leads to a narrow view of events, a stale culture, and a tendency for an inert attitude toward work.
9. Tracking Previous Clients is Challenging
Mark Miller Marketing Director Jordan Law
One of the hardest challenges we face in running the firm lies in tracking where our clients come from. We want to spend our marketing budget where it makes the most sense, but without good, consistent data on where that is, it’s hard to make the right choices.
One way change we recently made to tackle this is in our intake process. “How the Potential Client Found Us” is now a required area of our intake forms, and already, we’re getting better information on how they’re coming to our doors. Fortunately, as we suspected, our referral networks and marketing efforts are the ones that are working the best.
10. Not Focusing on Important Areas and Choosing Clients Wisely
Maikel N. Eskander, Esq., Partner, Capital Partners Law
My partner and I started our own law firm in June 2017 after several years of working for big firms. As with any new business, there have been numerous challenges and obstacles to creating a successful firm.
Our first real challenge was to narrow down our practice areas and agree to focus only on a few areas of law rather than just take any client that came through the door. I think this is a common issue for new law firms – they want to make money and bring in new clients – but it can easily backfire, as it spreads their attention too thin and prevents the firm from really creating a core focus.
After realizing that we really wanted to build a real estate and business law firm, the next challenge was to create a solid online presence through our own website, other legal platforms, and social media. This is definitely an ongoing battle and one that requires constant attention and investment.
From web development to SEO, blog writing, and reputation management, we’re always looking for ways to get more online attention. There are no shortcuts to getting found online. So, the only real method is to constantly put out new content, improve our website, and ask for client reviews. Even now, we still release a new blog every week to make sure our audience always keeps us in mind.
Entering our third year with substantial growth, our focus has shifted to attracting and retaining top talent. Our firm, akin to family, values its hard-earned reputation. Selecting new team members is a meticulous process as we seek candidates envisioning a long-term future with us.
11. Inability to Retain Talented Staff
Peter Woods, Principal Solicitor, Woods and Day Solicitors
The most prominent struggles for Australian Lawyers in 2019 are two things. First, top-tier firms are currently having trouble retaining talented staff. There is a growing number of other players and influencers in the legal field.
They offer not necessarily better salaries but essential things like making their own names or having fewer working hours. Others go for legal firms with less stressful deadlines.
The solution, one firm pointed out, is to open our doors to new talents. Yes, there are benefits of hiring from top law schools, etc., but don’t overlook potential candidates at your doorsteps. Our firm aims to ensure our staff’s well-being and manage the challenges of this extremely demanding job. We give more flexible work hours, handsome overtime pay, and anything that will give our team fulfilling careers.
The other monstrous area is technological advancement and keeping pace with our client’s business models. Technology like big data and cybersecurity are becoming a new phenomenon in the legal industry. I see no other solution than to integrate experts from the IT field into our firms.
We don’t necessarily need to have them at our offices, but legal process outsourcing is a great answer. Research revealed that training creates an environment and culture where innovation is encouraged and rewarded.
So, these were some of the major concerns that these legal professionals faced. The solutions above can truly help when it comes to dealing with business growth, marketing strategies, etc. You might be encountering some of these law firm challenges at present and may encounter some in the future. Nevertheless, these expert opinions will help you tackle the above-mentioned challenges with ease.
Are you also facing any of these legal issues and looking for a team to handle your legal back-office workload? If yes, Cogneesol is a reliable legal process outsourcing company offering top-notch legal outsourcing services, ensuring efficient and reliable management of your legal workload. Contact us.
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