Law firms must look at both revenue and profitability to stay alive and competitive in their region.
Reuters data shows that many firms experienced drops in productivity and profitability over 2022. The more you can focus on activities that improve your law firm's profitability, the better the chances of thriving in the future.
While revenue includes all money coming into the firm, profitability considers other issues like expenses and average time to get paid.
Getting more clients may help with revenue, but that may not address your underlying issues with profitability. Following the steps below can help you put practices in place across your law firm to protect and keep more of the money you make.
Find the Tasks You Shouldn’t Do and Delegate Them
One common mistake most lawyers make is trying to take on every task in the law firm.
It's too hard to serve as the vice president of every department in your firm. Doing so dilutes your focus from serving clients and can lead to burnout. Delegating tasks to staff members and outside professionals increase lawyers’ productivity and efficiency.
Your staff alignment and tasks are just as important as monitoring your own work.
Focus on delegating tasks to internal team members based on their strengths and expertise. But don't stop there. Continue to invest in your team by providing employee training to enhance skill sets.
Sometimes, it doesn't make sense to task an employee with solving a situation.
It may be better to outsource to other partners for important activities like law firm marketing. You may even choose to hire an outside accountant or bookkeeper to handle important filing deadlines and the details of your financial strategy.
Create and Refine Internal Processes
You’ll have a hard time delegating if you don't have processes in place to explain the firm's approach to handling common tasks.
You can reduce overhead and improve efficiency with the right internal processes. Creating these processes is also an excellent time to consider if you need software or automation to assist with repetitive tasks.
Some actions you can take before delegating a process to someone else at the firm include:
- Analyzing current workflows for performance issues or missing steps
- Implementing standard operating procedures
- Reviewing and updating policies and setting recurring times to do so
Once you know where your gaps are with processes and systems, you can leverage technology for even better profitability.
Increase Productivity and Efficiency with Legal Technology
Legal tech tools can unlock greater productivity for lawyers and their staff.
Technology can speed things up, eliminate processes, or remove tedious work that weighs you or your staff down. With the right technology in place, you're in a solid position to provide better client service while also improving your profitability.
Some of the best ways to do this include:
Through law firm technology, you can make data-driven decisions and ensure more consistency across clients and cases. Choosing the right law firm tech stack doesn't have to be overwhelming, either.
Accurately Track Time and Monitor Billable Hours
Accurate time tracking is key to understanding the best use of your staff's time. This will help you maximize your revenue and keep an eye on your billable hours.
There are a few simple steps to setting up a process to track your time, including:
When you know where time is spent, you can find where that time is lost. Once you know that, you can develop a plan to improve team utilization and efficiency.
Set Goals and Keep a Close Eye on Your Financials
Establishing financial goals and closely monitoring performance can keep you on track for sustained growth and stability.
To improve law firm profitability, you need big goals. But those also require looking at ongoing performance to see how you track against them.
One way to start is by setting specific, measurable, and achievable goals through financial planning and budgeting.
Rock-solid financial planning for lawyers should open new opportunities for you.
For example, a great financial plan can help you free up room for your marketing budget. In turn, the money you spend should help grow your law firm.
Creating key performance indicators will help you monitor your goals.
These include financial KPIs such as revenue, profit margin, and billing realization. In addition, look at operational KPIs to make sure you have the right staff working on the right things. These can include things like case turnaround time and employee productivity. Finally, look at client-related KPIs, such as client satisfaction scores and retention rates.
To get the most out of the data you collect, regular reporting and analysis help you identify trends and areas for improvement so you can adapt as needed.
The following factors can grant you deeper insight into your finances:
- Actual cash flow through financial management tools
- Cash flow projections and budgets to plan for the future
- Cost control measures to help reduce overhead costs
- Optimize your billing cycles to ensure timely revenue generation
These steps might take some initial setup time and ongoing review, but they'll help you adjust your plans, address problems, and grow your firm.
Prioritize Client Service
Focusing on client satisfaction improves your reputation and can lead to referral business.
A client-centered law firm is one that thinks about the needs, fears, and desires of clients and creates processes and service expectations around those. Delivering a great client experience affects your potential for word of mouth, referrals, and growing a positive reputation.
There are many ways to prioritize client service, but here are a few options for getting started:
- Maintain open and clear communication channels
- Set expectations with clients upfront
- Listen to and act on past client feedback
- Monitor industry trends regarding client needs
When your clients feel you're invested in them and their legal problems, they're much more likely to recommend you to others directly or in reviews.
Offer Alternate Payment Options and Improve Collections
Providing flexible payment options to clients and staying on top of collections can expedite revenue generation.
One TSYS study found that 79% of clients choosing service providers expect to see the same payment options as those offered by major companies. Combine this with the fact that 14% of the hours worked by most lawyers never get paid out, and you have a dangerous combination for lawyers who refuse to adapt.
Meet your clients where they are at with payment plan options.
Only offering payment by check may harm your profitability. Consider credit cards, electronic transfers, and payment plans.
Making it easier to pay you helps clients make their initial decision about who to hire. It also factors into their decision about reviews and referrals. When you provide options, you also enhance profitability since you're more likely to get paid faster, too.
Some other ways to uplevel your payment offerings include:
- Implementing automated invoicing and payment reminders
- Establishing clear collection policies and procedures
- Monitoring accounts receivable to identify and resolve overdue payments
If a lot of your accounts are in arrears and you're constantly chasing down clients who owe you, adding more payment options could be a solution.
Invest in Marketing Your Law Firm
Creating and implementing a targeted marketing strategy to attract new clients and expand your firm's reach.
When you can make the most out of every marketing dollar you spend, you can direct those funds elsewhere while getting a steady stream of clients from your efforts.
Digital marketing tactics like law firm SEO and social media for lawyers, for example, can help you get the word out there about your firm.
Often, lawyers don't have the time to market properly or feel confused about which methods to use to reach potential clients. Partnering with an outside marketing partner can eliminate this confusion and focus your tactics. A law firm marketing partner can:
With the right marketing expert to guide you, you'll know your law firm is growing your client base with leading techniques to draw in ideal clients.
Embrace a Culture of Continuous Improvement
When you and your team continue to grow together, you can reap a number of rewards.
If you foster a culture of continuous improvement, you’re firm will be better at adapting to changing market conditions and client needs. There are three simple ways to start building out this kind of company culture.
First is by being open to feedback from employees and clients. This can help you find weak points in your firm and client experience. Using their feedback to implement changes can streamline operations and make life better for everyone.
Second is by staying on top of industry trends and keeping your staff current. You can become a better lawyer and leader by keeping yourself informed. You can also use your position of leadership to introduce industry changes to your firm.
Maintaining ongoing professional development options for your staff gives everyone a chance to improve. A simple way to do this may be by starting an in-office book club where you read some of the best management books for lawyers.
Finally, you can regularly assess and adjust tactics at your firm. Technology, marketing, and even the practice of law are subject to constant change. Understanding your tactics and adjusting them will help you stay competitive in your region and practice areas.
Adopting these practices won't just increase profitability. It can also promote long-term growth and success as you build a profitable law firm and a great workplace.
Grow Your Bottom Line and Profit
Improving your law firm’s profitability is about so much more than getting new clients.
It requires thinking about your long-term vision and the goals you need to get there. Another component is maximizing your staff's time and focus while helping them develop in their roles. Finally, setting KPIs and making time to analyze them help you stay on track.
Although there's a lot that goes into running a modern law firm, making an effort to improve profitability pays off for everyone involved.
Knowing where to spend your time and when to outsource to someone else is a key aspect of that strategy. For more assistance with proven marketing strategies for law firms, contact Rankings.io.