3 New Year’s Resolutions for a More Successful Law Practice in 2018

Lawyers tend to be creatures of habit. They continue doing things the same way the’ve always been done, despite the huge advancements in technology happening around them. Yes, change is hard, but it also provides incredible opportunity for those who are willing to take a risk. In business, the best way to separate yourself from the competition is to break free from your old ways and be an innovator. As 2017 comes to a close, it’s a good opportunity to look back on your successes and failures of the past year, and find ways to improve your practice. Here are our top 3 New Year’s Resolutions for law firms in 2018 which will help you be more innovative and successful in years to come.

1. Utilize More Alternative Fee Structures

The verdict is in, and it’s readily apparent that clients prefer alternative fee structures. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since everyone in the legal industry has been talking about it for the past decade. But, many law firms have yet to make a change and still insist on hourly billing.

The longer you cling to this outdated business model, the lower your chances of success and growth will be in the future. Let 2018 be the year you test out some alternative fee arrangements.

Benefits

  • Predictable budgets for clients
    • There is nothing worse than getting a “surprise bill” that is twice as much as you expected. But, hourly billing leads to this outcome frequently. By adopting flat rates, or putting a cap on the total fees, you can provide your clients with a more predictable budget for their legal needs.
  • Increased client satisfaction
    • The customer experience is becoming the single biggest differentiator in today’s competitive business landscape. Customer service is almost more important than the actual product or service itself. For a law firm, predictable billing is an important part of providing good service. It will lead to increased client satisfaction and help drive referrals and repeat business in the future.

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2. Invest in New Marketing Initiatives

The importance of marketing and sales has often been overlooked by law firms, but these are two core pillars of success for any type of business. Many lawyers rely solely on referrals to generate new clients, but this is not a very effective growth strategy because referrals are inconsistent and unpredictable.

With a proper marketing strategy, you can generate a steady, predictable stream of new business for your practice, and you can do it on a budget that will yield a high ROI. The key is to understand which marketing strategies will work for your practice, and why.

Benefits

  • Reliable Stream of New Leads
    • As alluded to above, referrals alone are an unreliable source of new business. You never know when the next referral will come your way. With a paid marketing strategy, you can ensure that you will see a steady influx of new potential clients each month so you can achieve sustainable growth.
  • Building a Brand
    • Another benefit of paid marketing is the ability to generate broader awareness for your firm and build a recognizable brand. Most law firms are indistinguishable from the next with the traditional “Name, Name, & Name, LLP” branding. Consider using a DBA to really create a memorable brand for your marketing messages.

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3. Implement New Technology

The most important change you should consider making to your law firm in 2018 is to implement new technology. Technology has already reshaped the legal landscape by opening up a wealth of free legal information to the public, providing alternative legal service offerings (e.g. LegalZoom), and streamlining the way lawyers prepare documents or handle billing.

The technological shift has only just begun, and we are going to see a continued expansion of the role of technology in all aspects of legal services for years to come. By striving to keep up with these changes, you will ensure that your firm remains competitive in the new-look legal industry of the future.

Benefits

  • Greater Efficiency
    • Using software is by far the most effective way to increase your efficiency. You can streamline so many processes which are otherwise done manually and consume hours of time for you and your staff every week. Things like client intake, email communications, and billing are all perfect examples of processes which can be automated and streamlined with software.
  • Reduced Liability
    • Software helps create structure and organization for your processes and your data. When everything is stored in a secure software database, such as a case management system or CRM, it’s much easier to keep track of important information and stay on task. This means you will be less likely to make an easily avoidable, but costly mistake which exposes you to liability.
  • Data & Reporting
    • Software provides the added benefit of structuring your data in such a way that you can glean useful insights about the health of your business. For example, you can measure KPIs such as your conversion rate, ROI from marketing, or average revenue per client just by using software to keep track of your data. These metrics are essential in order to make the right business decisions that will lead to continued growth in the future.
  • Happier Clients
    • Not only does software help a law firm’s internal operations, it can also make life easier for clients. Software solutions like online intake forms and e-signatures offered by Lexicata can help streamlines arduous processes for your clients. By making their lives easy, you will improve retention rates and build up a powerful referral network of happy customers.

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Summary

With another new year comes an excellent opportunity to reflect on the past and create positive change for the future. In the change-resistant legal industry, this might mean stepping outside your comfort zone a bit and doing things differently.

Although it may feel risky, rethinking the way you work is truly the best path toward sustained success and the continuing growth of your practice into the future. Our top 3 New Year’s Resolutions for a more successful law practice in 2018 are…

  1. Adopting Alternative Fee Structures
  2. Investing in New Marketing Initiatives
  3. Implementing New Technology

We hope you have been inspired to give at least one of these resolutions a shot next year. Here’s to a successful 2018!

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