For my money, unless you have actually been a real-life, honest-to-goodness website designer at some point in your career, and if you’re a lawyer, it’s never a good idea to design and maintain your own website.
Many lawyers view client communications as bothersome–an interruption from the important work of lawyering. Of course, that work is being done for clients; so, it’s important that they know what’s going on, right? But, this isn’t just a one way street. In fact, lawyers derive lots of benefits from staying in touch with their clients. So, let’s address three of those . . .
This is the year you turn your law firm into a high performance machine. You’re currently driving a Chevrolet Chevette; by the end of next year, I want you to be rolling up in a Ford Mustang.
Lawyers have always billed clients the same way: by the hour. (Yawn.) While that option is good for law firms (hello: uncapped billings), clients often chafe at the model, because $— x however many hours the lawyer decides to work is a little bit more of an investment than, say, a Netflix subscription. But, there’s a reason why subscription services like Netflix flourish: it’s because of the low level of investment, and the high value of return.
Law firms work vigorously to convert leads: to get those leads to pay retainers and sign engagement agreements. That all makes sense: winning business is essential for any organization. However, once law firms convert clients, there is often a dry spell before the new clients hear from their new law firms again; and, because many cases start with potentially significant periods before anything of note actually happens, new clients may go for months, or even a year, before they hear from their lawyer again.
With so much competition for clients, law firms are seeking any edge they can find. Even so, many attorneys remain camera shy. Despite the fact that video is a unique way to market a modern small business, small law firm websites that feature video remain few and far between.
For law firms, just like for any other business, change starts small; and, it’s the same thing when it comes to better managing your productivity. There are some immediate changes you can make to your law firm that will incur massive incremental value.
Everything you do in marketing your law firm is centered around getting return on calls to actions you’ve carefully crafted as part of your marketing plan. It doesn’t make sense to go through all of that effort and expense, and then drop the ball at the goal line.
Every business needs to back up its electronic data, but the imperative is even more important for law firms, which have ethical and fiduciary duties tied to their client relationships. Despite the warnings, many law firms subsist on remarkably thin data backup systems.
Most lawyers have a general understanding of what encryption does. Nevertheless, most attorneys don’t feel like they have a comprehensive plan for managing encryption in their law firms, when it comes to sending secure files to clients and colleagues. That leaves a lot of law firms feeling a little insecure. But, there’s a simple strategy for managing encryption in law firms, that’s entirely based on the volume of files you need to encrypt.
When lawyers ask you about going paperless, recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. It is, hands-down, the best scanner for law firms on the market; and, in over a decade of consulting work, I’ve never had a single complaint about it. It’s fast, it’s wireless, it works on both PCs and Macs, it’s portable and it comes with PDF conversion software.
Law firms have never been particularly great at onboarding of staff, including associate attorneys. I suspect that most lawyers agree that effective staffing is essential; but, most attorneys are so deep into the substantive work they do that they don’t prioritize training. At the same time, attorneys usually just let their technology wash over them, using what they’ve always used, while again focusing on their substantive work, and fearing the productivity dip inherent in adding new software. In law firm management, however, having the right technology and placing the right staff are inherently tied together.
Law firms operate between ad hoc decision making and fire-putting-out. It’s the natural state of the law firm manager. That being said, humans have been improving on the state of nature since there have been humans. So, it’s maybe not the worst thing in the world if this is the year you decide to put together revenue projections for your law firm.
Modern law firm consumers are an entirely new breed. They have more law firm options than ever before, and aren’t afraid to use them. They are committed to mobile search. They are more cost-sensitive than any consumer base in modern history. Absent a near-instantaneous response from a potential lawyer hire, they will immediately move on to the next attorney on their list.
Despite changes to advertising rules, lawyers have marketed themselves in much the same way for generations. You find an office space, you go out and network, you do good work, and more work comes in. But, as consumers have become more discerning, and as law firm choices continue to proliferate, lawyers continue to stick with the same marketing strategy they always have. There is, however, a cost.
Do you reuse the same passwords over and over again? Or, do you find yourself creating ever simpler passwords, so they’re easier to remember? Do you instead use really complicated passwords that you keep on sticky notes around the office? In the short run, these are easy solutions to password management; but, in the long term, it’s a security loophole that’s bound to come back to bite you.
Law firms depend on their websites to generate clients. For most law firms, if the website is not the primary driver of referrals, it’s confirmation to your potential clients that you’re an invested business owner, and is perhaps the first avenue through which you begin to build trust with consumers.