Will 2019 be the year your firm really takes off? That’s a question we can’t answer, as it will be largely be determined by the work you do and your commitment to growth. What we can do is help you get your new year off on the right track, with 19 tips on how to improve your practice. Below we’ll discuss ways to make your office more efficient, improve your marketing, connect with new peers, better serve clients, and be a more successful you. We’ll also offer advice on how to take action on each one of our tips.
1. Get help answering your phones
As we move deeper into the digital age, we’re relying on automated machines and software programs to take on more and more of our work responsibilities. Embracing new technology is of course a great thing, but when it comes to answering your law office’s phones, having a live human voice is still a necessity. People calling an attorney have urgent problems that need immediate professional attention. If you direct distressed consumers to an automated machine, you’ll quickly lose them to competing firms. So make the switch over to Answering Legal, a 24/7/365 service, with a team of live receptionists trained specifically in fielding legal phone calls. Remember, no matter how good your marketing is, you won’t get new clients if your firm is unable to capture new leads.
2. Improve your legal intake process
The legal intake process is the first impression you’ll make on potential new clients, so executing it right is a must. This year, make sure you have only trained professionals performing your firm’s legal intakes (preferably someone other than the lawyers at your firm, who could be using their time for other tasks). Also make sure your firm has pre-established client intake forms. These forms should be filled with carefully thought out questions, designed to help your staff extract the necessary personal and case information from first time callers, to help you move forward with their case.
3. Become more organized with a legal software
Law offices can be a chaotic place. Fortunately there are now numerous high quality softwares available for purchase, which are specifically designed to help lawyers do things like organize contacts, assign tasks, set reminders and deadlines, transfer documents, gather client intake information, and much more. Many of them will fit into the budget of even solo firms.
4. Better manage client payments
Speaking of top legal softwares, LawPay is a must-have online credit card processing solution for attorneys. It is the most widely trusted credit card processing software for law firms and works with 46 State BAR associations as well as specialty and local bar associations. LawPay allows you to do things like send clients an email requesting payment. That email will include a link to a secure payment page, helping guarantee that your clients are always able to pay on time.
5. Learn the power of delegation
Running a law office takes a village. Or at least a few qualified experts to help attorneys accomplish business related tasks they don’t really have time to get done themselves. When it comes to marketing, social media posting, creating visual content, administrative duties, and phone answering, attorneys should consider reaching out for professional help. As former prosecutor and delegation expert Dina Eisenberg told us last August, “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.”
6. Address your website
If your firm’s website looks old, is difficult to use, or isn’t responsive on mobile, you won’t be very successful marketing in the digital age. So make this the year you contact a web designer, and build a website that will actually help you capture new clients. Don’t rush into hiring just any web designer. Take the time to make sure you’re hiring a designer with an extensive portfolio, and a strong understanding of what it takes to build a mobile friendly website. Whatever money it costs you in the short term to hire quality help, will be well worth it in the long run.
7. Make blogging a priority
We know finding the time to blog is a pain, but the benefits are just too good to pass up on. For one thing, blogging is a great way to build up authority and credibility for your legal services. A well-written blog post providing guidance or valuable insight on a law related issue, will in many cases be enough to sway an online consumer into trying out your firm, or at least exploring your services further.
8. Create videos
Online users today expect to see video on just about every website and social page they visit. In fact, Cisco has projected that more than 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021. We know lawyers have plenty of expertise to share and plenty of topics they feel passionate enough to talk about for hours. So grab a camera, and start filming.
9. Get started with SEO
If your law office isn’t already engaging in search marketing and everything that comes with it, 2019 needs to be the year you get started. Developing an online presence is a must these days, as over one-third of potential clients begin their search for an attorney online. Statistics also show that websites on the first page of search engine results receive almost 95% of web traffic, leaving only 5% for results beyond the first page. Your firm’s goal needs to be getting on the first page for search results relevant to your practice.
10. Pay attention to your online reviews
Consumers trust their online peers just as much, if not more than they trust you. So if your online reviews are overwhelmingly negative, you’re going to have a difficult time attracting new people to your business. So make getting positive reviews a top goal for the new year, and perhaps reach out to those who had negative things to say, to see if anything can be done to resolve their issue with your firm.
Interacting With Peers
11. Join an online discussion group
Reading blog posts and watching videos can be helpful, but sometimes you’ll have specific questions related to your practice, that a fellow attorney will best be able to answer. So don’t be afraid to join in on lawyer forums, discussion boards, and social communities. Sure these groups can sometimes be a little overwhelming, and may even feature the occasional whacko, but they also can be one of the best places to find quick solutions to your problems.
12. Go to lawyer events and conferences
Good old fashioned in-person networking still works. Attorneys should go out of their way to join a few professional associations, and actually travel to the events and conferences the associations put together. Getting a few days away from the office can be highly beneficial, as can meeting new potential referral sources and picking the brains of other lawyers in your field. Attorneys that don’t operate in your zip code may be more willing to share their secrets to success with you.
13. Update your LinkedIn page
If you’re using LinkedIn to connect with new clients, you probably won’t have much success. What you should be using LinkedIn for is connecting with fellow attorneys. The platform is full of law professionals, many of which have valuable insight to share and will be excited to engage with your firm. Take a few minutes to update all the details of your personal and firm’s LinkedIn page, including up to date information, links to relevant websites, and professional photos.
14. Engage with Spanish speaking markets
It’s about time you get in touch with one of the fastest growing markets in the country— Spanish speakers. Most lawyers will find that there are a large number of Spanish speakers in their area in need of legal assistance, and engaging with this market can be as simple as investing in some bilingual phone answering assistance. Imagine the edge you’ll gain on competitors, by being able to advertise that your firm offers bilingual phone answering.
15. Get to know your community
Hosting charitable events, and volunteering can be a great way to introduce yourself to the people in your town. Why should you make this a priority? Because the people in your community are also known as your potential future clients. By helping locals have a little fun or get through a tough time, you’ll immediately embed your firm in their minds, and increase the likelihood they reach out to you the next time they have legal trouble. Always make sure you have a few business cards on hand, as new client opportunities can develop quickly when engaging with large groups in-person.
16. Offer new ways to get in touch
The communication preferences of legal consumers today significantly vary. Some clients will still prefer to call you to speak about their problems, while others will rather shoot you a quick text or email message when they have a question. So give new clients a few different options for staying in touch, and make sure your firm closely monitors all of its communications platforms, so that a client’s message never goes unanswered for too long.
17. Be open to change
When the law changes, you don’t just ignore it. You adapt, so that you can remain on top of your legal game. Well you need to take the same approach when it comes to serving clients. The newest generation of consumers is a lot different than the previous ones, and the expectations they have for their legal experience are different as well. If you’re already an established lawyer, your first instinct may be to ignore the preferences of millennials and members of Generation Z. But, these groups are quickly making up the majority of your legal customer base, and ignoring their needs could result in the quick demise of your firm. So read up the latest consumer trends, and even consider surveying your customers on how they would like to be served.
18. Be healthy
No we’re not asking you to lose 40 pounds by March or cut sugar completely out of your diet (there are plenty of other blogs that can advise you on those matters). We’re telling you to occasionally take a break. Find a way to avoid constantly working late nights and weekends, and plan on taking a few vacations this year. In order to grow your practice, you need to be at your mental and physical best, so make sure you put your health above all else. If your work is becoming too overwhelming, make sure you reach out for the proper help. If your plate is becoming too full, make changes, even if it means your firm not growing as fast as you want it to. Pushing yourself to do more is great, but if you’re frequently working on four hours of sleep, your firm will suffer in the long run.
19. Commit to learning
This year we’ll be publishing two new blog posts every week, and are determined to get you the best possible information for growing your firm.